Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Throughout the world Bavaria and its capital city Munich is known for Oktoberfest, weißwurst sausages and folk music. Here too numerous medieval castles and Baroque churches are to be found in the picture perfect settings of forests and snow-capped mountains. This German state has seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, and estimates suggest there are over 1,200 museums to visit. From the city art and archaeology museums with their vast local and international collections, to smaller speciality museums such as the Medieval Crime Museum in Rothenburg. And, at the end of the year the Christmas markets in Nuremberg are among the finest in Germany.

Archaeology & History Sites in Bavaria

Mödlareuth Memorial & Museum

In the early 1950s the rural medieval village of Mödlareuth became known as ‘Little Berlin’.  Like the city, the village was physically divided in 1952, at first by a wooden fence, then later by the  same concrete barrier system that divided the two German states. Mödlareuth lies on the border between Thuringia (then in the Soviet Occupation Zone) and Bavaria (American Occupation Zone), hence the partition of the village into East and West Germany, where social and familial ties were forcibly broken. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, residents bulldozed most of the dividing wall, but a section was retained and is now a memorial and a museum recounts this period of the village’s history.

Nazi Party Rally Grounds

For both symbolic and logistic reasons Nuremburg was chosen by the Nazis as the venue for their part rallies. A total of six rallies were held between 1933 and 1938. The site covered an area of 11 square km and vast structures were specifically build to glorify the leadership and the party. Some of these, such as the Congress Hall, were never completed before the war, others were damaged. But a number of landmarks remain. Part of the Congress Hall houses the Documentation Centre. From where it possible to start a self guided tour of the party grounds.

Porta Praetoria, Regensburg

Casta Regina was the Roman name for a 2nd century AD military fort on the Danube River, a city we know today as Regensburg. Very little of this fort has survived. One feature being a gate from the northern walls of the fort; one of the few surviving Roman gates north of the Alps. The stone from much of the Roman fort, like elsewhere, was used in the construction of later buildings. The reason the north gate survived is because it was partly integrated into the Bishop’s court in the mid 17th century. The distinctive Roman masonry can still be seen from the street.

Wieskirche - Church of the Wies

The Pilgrimage Church of Wies is a UNESCO listed site built in the late 1740s in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. It superseded a small chapel that had been erected after a neglected statue of Christ was seen with tears in its eyes. The chapel soon became a popular pilgrimage site, hence the need for a larger church. The highly and colourful decorated interior of the church is considered to be a masterpiece of the Rococo style. A museum in the prelate’s house shows the history of the miracle and pilgrimage.

Museums & Art Galleries in Bavaria

Archäologische Staatssammlung, München

Founded in 1885, the State Archaeology Collection of Bavaria is one of the largest and most important archaeological collections in Germany. There are five collections: prehistory, Roman, medieval, the Mediterranean and numismatics. The museum, with extensive permanent exhibits is located in central Munich in walking distance of the Marianplatz, and is normally open to the public everyday except Mondays.

Celtic Roman Museum, Manching

The Bavarian town of Manching is situated on what was a large, late Iron Age city-like settlement – the Oppidum of Manching. Excavations have recovered spectacular Celtic artefacts, including a hoard of 483 Celtic gold coins. The Iron Age settlement was founded in the 3rd century BC and abandoned in the mid 1st century BC. The strategic position made the site attractive to the Romans. Today, the Kelten Römer Museum Manching showcases the best artefacts from the Iron Age and Roman periods of the area.

Glyptothek, Munich

Built for Ludwig I, the Glyptothek housed the Bavarian king’s collection of Greek and Roman sculpture, and is Munich’s oldest public museum (opened in 1830). Outstanding pieces of Greek and Roman marble statues are displayed in galleries modelled on a Roman bath house, with bare brick walls and high vaulted ceilings. The objects range in date from the from the archaic age at 650 BC to the end of the Roman era around 550 AD. Highlights include the Barberini Faun and the temple figures from Aegina.

National Museum of Bavaria

The Bayerisches Nationalmuseum is one of the largest museums in Germany, and one of the most important Decorative Arts museums in Europe. The museum was established in 1855 by King Maximilian II of Bavaria to showcase the collections of the Wittelsbah dynasty. Artefacts range in date from the 5th century AD to the early 20th century, with fine examples from the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Art Nouveau periods. The building is itself one of the most important examples of museum architecture in the historicism style.

Staatliche Antikensammlungen

Based on the collections of the Bavarian King Ludwig I, the State Collections of Antiquities displays art and everyday objects of ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman origins. The earliest objects are from the Aegean islands of the 3rd century BC, Cycladic culture, and the most recent from Late Antiquity in the 5th century AD. The collection, and display, is particularly well known for its fine collection of Athenian painted vases, but there are also jewellery and glass, portraits and gems on show.

State Museum of Egyptian Art

What the museum lacks in numbers of artefacts it more than makes up for in the quality and significance of objects on display. In displaying some 5,000 years of art in Egypt, the following periods are included: the early, middle and late kingdoms, as well as Hellenistic, Roman and Coptic era of Egypt. Rather than a chronological presentation, displays cover a range of themes in Egyptian art and culture. Since 2013 the museum has been at the centre of the Kunstareal, along with the other major museums in Munich.