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Isartor: Learn all about Munich's eastern city gate

Das Isartor an einem Sommertag, Foto: muenchen.de/Mark Read
Foto: muenchen.de/Mark Read

The tower of Isartor is home to a unique museum

The Isartor is one of the old city gates in Munich. The towers are home of a very peculiar museum.

The Isartor at a glance: History and museum

Hilarious traces of Munich's famous comedian Karl Valentin, a mirror-inverted clock and a gigantic Feuerzangenbowle in winter: There's more to this Munich landmark than meets the eye.

  • The almost completely preserved eastern city gate of Munich's old town was built between 1285 and 1347 by Ludwig the Bavarian in the course of the great expansion of the city
  • Restored in 1833 by Friedrich von Gärtner, the gate features a fresco depicting Emperor Ludwig's triumphal procession after the Battle of Ampfing
  • After the gate was severely damaged in the Second World War, it was restored to its original condition in the early 1970s.
  • The Isartor separates the Isartorplatz from the valley, a shopping street that leads directly to Marienplatz
  • The towers have been home to the Valentin Karlstadt Museum since 1959
  • Funny detail: the clocks in the main tower turn counterclockwise
  • The inner courtyard is used for exhibitions and concerts
  • During Advent, the "Münchner Feuerzangenbowle" - a traditional German hot alcoholic drink - serves its guests from a 9,000-liter copper kettle

Valentin Karlstadt Musäum

The two Falkentürme (towers) of the Isartor in Munich today host the Valentin Karlstadt Musäum. The rooms inside are dedicated to the legendary Munich comedian Karl Valentin and his partner Liesl Karlstadt.

The pair were famous for their quirky humour, so it's hardly surprising that the museum offers an entertaining glimpse into their cosmos. Expect plenty of absurd features to marvel at, such as the nail that Valentin used to hang his carpentry work on (in German "to hang something on a nail" means "to quit"), or the fur-trimmed winter toothpick.

Anti-clockwise

Die spiegelverkehrte Uhr am Isartor, Foto: Katy Spichal
Foto: Katy Spichal

The Isartor tower construction is decorated with two glass clock faces. But if you look closely, you will see that something isn't quite right.

While the hands of the tower clock overlooking Isartorplatz function perfectly normally, moving in a clockwise direction, the hands on the western side, in the direction of Tal, move anti-clockwise. And the clock face itself has also been reversed.

This was done deliberately, as the clock evokes the humour of Karl Valentin and the people of Bavaria in general. Even the former German Chancellor Willy Brandt once famously stated that "in Bavaria, the clocks run differently".

Feuerzangenbowle: Red wine punch to keep the cold at bay

Light flames and a huge cauldron of red wine punch in the centre of Munich's inner city: even at the coldest times of the year, the Isartor is still a popular meeting point.

Tourists and Munich inhabitants come together at the Munich Feuerzangenbowle event to enjoy a hot glass of red wine punch in the setting of the former city gate. And, of course, there is also plenty to eat.

The organisers are culturally engaged too, and display installations and exhibitions focussing on socially relevant topics.

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