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With 1.3 million inhabitants Munich is the biggest city of Bavaria and the third biggest city of Germany. Located to the north of the Bavarian Alps, on the river Isar, Munich is one of the most important economy, culture and transportation centres of the country which is reflected in a certain prosperity. Many media, high-tech companies as well as the car industry have there headquarters over here. Sophistication is not only represented by the city itself but also by the inhabitants of whom a big part belongs to the wealthy upper class. Big expensive cars, exclusive designer shops and haute cuisine shape the city’s high society image but nevertheless Munich has to face a certain prejudice which includes lederhosen wearing people, beer and the Bavarian veal sausage. This is of cause a part of the city’s folk traditions which contradicts with the aim of being a sophisticated cosmopolitan city.
Besides, Munich is rich in all kinds of cultural activities. It is packed with museums, a vibrant art scene and famous for the Oktoberfest which is known all over the world.
Munich’s history goes back to the Romans but only under the rule of Henry the Lion Munich was strengthened as a settlement in 1158. The following centuries were controlled by the Wittelsbacher who ruled until the 20th century and led the city into a period of stability which is still today represented by the many palaces and castles.
Munich lies in between the humid Atlantic and the dry continental climate zones which makes the weather quite inconsistent. Important weather determining factors are the Alps and the river Donau. The climate is quite warm and dry but due to its geographical location Munich sometimes has to face severe storms. And thanks to the Alps the city gets a lot of snow in winter. The best time to visit Munich is between early summer and autumn.
The official language spoken in Munich is German. Nevertheless, Bavaria has many dialects which are quite strong. Munich’s inhabitants, however, barely speak any dialect.
Bavaria is strongly shaped by a catholic history. Therefore, about 40% are Catholics, 14% are Protestants and about 46% belong to different religious groups or are undenominational. Munich also has a Jewish community of which most members come from East Europe.
From January 2007 the VAT increases from 16% to 19%. In some shops which are signed with the „Tax Free“ shopping sign, the VAT can be reclaimed by visitors from outside the EU. In order to do that you have to fill a tax-cheque by the time of purchase. At the airport your purchased items need to be taken to the customs clearance where the customs official will provide a tax stamp which can be cashed at any of the airport banks in a variety of currencies.
To call Germany you first have to dial +49 and then for Munich (0)89. On most of the inner city places are public telephones which can be used with telephone cards or coins. Telephone cards are available with a value of € 5 or € 10 Euro in post offices, telephone and train station shops as well as kiosks.
Munich has internet cafes of any kind; from small locations with 2 seats to internet giants with more than 450 terminals. Some of the places are free of charge. The name café doesn not always mean that you also get something to drink, sometimes food and drinks are even prohibited. Some internet cafes are: Cyberice-Cafe Internet & Eiscafé: Feilitzschstr. 15, Café Netzwerk: Luisenstraße 11 (+49 89 54832700), easyInternetcafé: Bahnhofplatz 1, Internet House t@ke-In: Rosenheimer Landstr. 30, Coffee Fellows
Leopoldstr. 70. Besides, the public library, the Bayerische Börse Aktiengesellschaft and an Internet Point at the airport provide an internet access, some even free of charge.
Department stores, supermarkets and some bigger shops are generally open on weekdays from 9 am to 8 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 4 am. Smaller shops are only open weekdays until 6.30 pm. The post office is weekdays open between 8 am and 6.30 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 12.30 am.
1. January (New Year’s Day)
6. January (Epiphany)
1. May (Labour Day)
Feast of Corpus Christi
3. October (German Unification Day)
1. November (All Saints’ Day)
25. Dec Christmas Day
26. Dec Boxing Day
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