When people think of Munich, they think of Oktoberfest. So, when we told friends that we were going to Munich during our October break, they naturally assumed we were going for Oktoberfest. However, did you know that Oktoberfest actually starts in September, and is usually over by the beginning of October? It was over by the time we got there in mid October. Nevertheless, we went to the Hofbräuhaus: the most famous beer hall in the world! There was still plenty of beer, and plenty of people to enjoy it:)
The first Oktoberfest was held in October 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese. The festivities were closed with a horse race, a tradition which was continued and later developed into what is now known as Oktoberfest.
I had thought that the Hofbräuhaus would be a touristy place, with the waiters wearing the traditional lederhosen and waitresses decked out in the traditional Bavarian dresses (dirndl). Although there were plenty of tourists there, I was surprised to discover the place packed with locals, many of whom were dressed in the traditional Bavarian costume. The Hofbräuhaus has the most wonderful, jolly atmosphere, with spontaneous singing breaking out from the people at the tables.
The Hofbräuhaus has some pretty interesting history that goes back to 1589, when Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria and the city council decided to start their own brewery because they weren’t happy with the local beer brewed in Munich. Apparently their beer became so popular that they couldn’t keep up with the demand of 38,000 gallons, and so they decided to build the new Hofbräuhaus at “Platzl” in 1607, the site of the current Hofbräuhaus.
Around 1614 a stronger beer called “Maibock” was brewed, and it later saved the city of Munich during the Thirty Years War. When the Swedes occupied Munich in 1632, they agreed to not pillage and plunder the city in exchange for 1,000 buckets of beer!
Tourism was on the rise in Munich in the late 1800’s. The old brewery was torn down, and the new Hofbräuhaus was built on the same site. It opened for business in September 1897.
Sadly, the Hofbräuhaus was almost completely demolished by Allied bombs in April 1944. By May 1945, only a small section of the main beer hall was still usable.
In 1958 the Hofbräuhaus new Festival Hall reopened, just in time for Munich’s 800th anniversary. It has been going strong ever since! Be sure to stop by if you are in Munich!