Munich: The Residenz, Asam Church

The weather forecast called for rain all today, my last day in Munich, which is also the last day of this trip. Because of the rain, I planned primarily indoor activities. This included the palatial Residenz and the Asam Church.

At first, the forecast was accurate. Later, while remaining gloomy, the precipitation stopped for a little while. I know that primarily from looking out the few uncovered windows in the Residenz Museum. It didn’t seem to be raining whenever I checked. I also know this from the five or so minutes, if that, it didn’t rain when I was outside.

Otherwise, the forecast remained accurate for the rest of the day. Precipitation varied among slight drizzle, moderate rain, downpour, and where-the-heck-did-I-leave-those-damned-plans-for-the-ark intensities.

The Residenz

The Residenz facade

Constructed in 1385, the Residenz began as a simple, moated castle. Construction of the main buildings occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries. The final addition was a facade modelled after the Pitti Palace in Florence.

The ruling Wittelsbach family called the enormous Residenz home for hundreds of years.

In March, 1944, the Residenz suffered considerable damage from air raids. Consequently, much of it is now a reconstruction.

The Residenz comprises the Treasury, the Museum, and the Cuvilliés Theatre. I visited all three. I’m exhausted. Really exhausted.

Residenz Treasury

The Treasury houses treasures amassed by the prior occupants of the palatial abode.

It contains ten rooms, organized by period and type of pieces they contain. Contents include crowns, religious items, decorative items, jewelry, swords, porcelain, and more. Most of the rooms displayed dozens of pieces.

The audioguide included with admission provided an overarching commentary for each room. Those commentaries discussed the era the pieces in the room came from, their history, their artistic style, and the materials used. I didn’t time them, but I think the room commentaries ranged from two to four minutes each.

The audioguide also offered individual commentaries on at least half of the pieces displayed. The individual commentaries generally lasted less than a minute each, but sometimes more. Or, at least, it seemed like more.

In the first room, I listened to the room commentary and all of the individual ones.

In the second room, I listened to the room commentary and maybe half of the individual ones. By the third room, that dropped to the overarching commentary and maybe a quarter of the others. By room ten I said to myself, “OK, listen to what the room is about and get the heck out of here.” I followed my advice on that.

In the end, I probably listened to only about ten to twenty percent of the available commentaries. Nevertheless, I still spent about an hour and a half in the Treasury.

Of the limited number of individual commentaries I listened to, more than a few said the piece came from Regensburg. Jeez. I was just in Regensburg. They could have left the treasure there and saved me the trip.

The pictures below represent just an exceptionally small selection of the pieces on display at the Residenz Treasury.

The Residenz Museum

The Museum is huge. Although, “museum” is a little misleading. It’s several rooms decorated somewhat (and sometimes exactly) as they once were. I visited by following a designated path, with the flow guided by arrow signs mounted on stanchions.

How many rooms were there, you ask? I didn’t count, but I estimate there were approximately mega-lots, plus or minus a great many. That’s how many.

The rooms varied from huge, ornate halls to modestly adorned antechambers. Some of the furniture and art escaped the bombings of 1994. Thus, the rooms displayed some original pieces. But pieces brought from other palaces, along with some copied paintings, filled in for what was destroyed.

The audioguide provided at least one commentary in every room. In some rooms, it also offered separate commentaries on individual pieces of furniture or art.

At first, I listened to every commentary. Then, I listened to the room commentaries, but skipped the individual narrations. Then I started skipping the room commentaries.

At one point in the path through the Residenz Museum, I encountered a sign with two arrows. The caption on one said “Short Route.” The other, as you might have guessed, said “Long Route.” I came upon this at a still early stage, so I chose the long route.

Farther along—much farther along—I came to another fork in the road. The choices were “Royal Palace” and “Exit.” I reached this point after spending about two hours in the Residenz Museum.

I arrived at the Residenz at about 9:30, spent about an hour and a half in the treasury, and then two hours in the museum. Do the math. It was after 1:00 p.m. By then, I was feeling a bit peckish. And by “a bit peckish” I mean famished. I chose “Exit” and went for lunch before going to the Cuvilliés Theatre.

Again, the pictures below are only the tiniest of selections of rooms, furniture and art displayed in the Residenz Museum.

Cuvilliés Theatre

My life forces restored by lunch to their usual wearied level rather than the debility engendered by the Residenz Treasury and Museum, I visited the Cuvilliés Theatre.

Cuvilliés Theatre is a small, beautiful theatre decorated in lush reds and golds. Tiered boxes form a horseshoe around the sides and back. What more can I say? It was a small theatre and they didn’t allow visitors to go anywhere other than the main seating area.

Asam Church

I visited the Asam Church, officially known as St. Johann Nepomuk Church, for two reasons. First, both Rick Steves in his Germany tour book and the walking tour app I have recommended it highly. Second, it was close to my hotel. The steady rain made the latter a much higher priority consideration than it would have been on, say, a bright, sunny day.

The primary reason both sources gave for recommending the church was primarily its over-the-top decoration.

Asam Church is very small, just 30 feet wide according to Rick Steves, with only 12 rows of pews. The Asam brothers constructed the church between 1733 and 1746. The brothers intended it to be a private chapel, but Munich’s citizens forced them to open it for all to worship in.

Although I paraphrased when I said my written sources called it over-the-top decoration, that’s accurate. Sculptures, frescoes, paintings and other decorations adorned almost every inch of the walls and ceiling.

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