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The Old Court (Alter Hof): Sight in the city center

Alter Hof in München, Foto: Katy Spichal
Foto: Katy Spichal

Munich's city history up close: Info and tips on the Old Court

The Old Court (Alter Hof) is located in the middle of Munich's old town. As the first imperial residence of the Wittelsbacher royal family, it is an important sight in the center.

The most important information about the Old Court

  • As the first imperial residence of the Wittelsbacher dynasty from the 13th century onwards, it is an important highlight of the medieval history of the city
  • Despite some rebuilding and reconstruction after the Second World War, the medieval architecture has been preserved to this day
  • One of the most exciting legends about Munich revolves around the Monkey Tower
  • On site or directly next door some stores and gastronomy are waiting for visitors
  • In the basement of the Old Court there is a permanent multimedia exhibition about the historical building to discover

Architecture: Medieval ground plans despite war destruction

Alter Hof in der Innenstadt München, Foto: Katy Spichal
Foto: Katy Spichal

Much has happened since the beginnings of the courtyard in the Middle Ages until today - but the Old Court has never lost its original charm. Of the original five components of the building complex, only two have been preserved in a renovated form.

The others were demolished and rebuilt after the destruction of the Second World War. However, the faithfulness of these reconstructions to the original has even won awards.

The Monkey Tower - the most important sight in the Old Court

Alter Hof in der Innenstadt München, Foto: Katy Spichal
Foto: Katy Spichal

According to legend, Duke Ludwig II had a tame monkey that was allowed to run around freely in the residence. This monkey is said to have kidnapped the little heir to the throne, Ludwig the Bavarian, from his cradle one day.

A chase by the entire court staff finally drove the monkey with the child in its arms over a wooden bay window onto the roof. Below, the court staff trembled; above, the monkey sat with the baby. After a while, however, the animal calmed down and carefully climbed down to put the baby back in the cradle. Since then, the gothic wooden bay window on the castle floor has also borne the name Monkey Tower.

History: From imperial residence to information center

Alter Hof

Excavation finds prove that there was already a castle complex on the site of the Altes Hof in the 12th century. In 1255, Duke Ludwig II made the Old Court his residence. His son Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian even declared it a permanent imperial residence. Until the 15th century, the building remained the ruling residence of the Wittelsbacher dynasty. When the new Munich Residence was built in 1385, the Old Court lost its importance and became the seat of financial authorities.

The imposing premises of the Old Court invite you to stroll around with exquisite stores: Furniture and home accessories at Manufactum or stone-baked bread at brot&butter. Offices and the information center for visitors to the museums and castles in Bavaria are also housed here. At the Infopoint, you can find out everything about the history and get important tips for visitors to over 1,300 castles and museums in the Free State.

Permanent exhibition on the Munich Imperial Castle

In the vaulted cellar of the Old Court, the permanent exhibition on Munich's Imperial Castle provides a wealth of background information on the former residence of the Wittelsbacher dynasty.

In the form of a multimedia presentation, visitors explore the history of the venerable vault and its walls. Admission is free and there are many information opportunities on the schedule. For example, an uncovered piece of the old castle wall can be examined closely.

A 3-D animation immerses visitors in the earlier construction phases of the Old Court. Films portray the life of Ludwig IV and the history of Munich. A search game, a large puzzle and wooden building blocks are waiting for children to get to know it better.

 How to get to the Old Court: The former imperial residence can by reached through a short walk from Marienplatz down Burgstraße

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