One of Germany's true treasures, Munich's royal Residenz (Residence) began in 1363 as the modest Neuveste (New Fortress) on the northeastern city boundary. By the time the Bavarian monarchy fell, in 1918, the palace could compare favorably with the best in Europe. The Wittelsbach dukes moved here when the tenements of an expanding Munich encroached on their Alter Hof. In succeeding centuries the royal residence developed according to the importance, requirements, and whims of its occupants. It came to include, for example, the Königsbau (on Max-Joseph-Platz); the Festsaal (Banquet Hall); the newly renovated Cuvilliés-Theater (Altes Residenztheater); the Allerheiligen-Hofkirche (All Saints' Church); and the adjoining Nationaltheater (Bavarian State Opera).
Fire was one of the biggest fears for all citizens for centuries: in 1674, fire destroyed large parts of the palace on Residenzstr., while most of the Neuevest complex burned to the ground in 1750, including the theater.
This meant a new court theater was needed, and the result was the incomparable rococo Cuvilliés-Theater.
With the Residenz's central location, it was pretty much inevitable that the Allied bombing of 1944–45 would cause immense damage, and susbequent reconstruction took decades. For tourists today, however, it really is a treasure chamber of delight. To wander around the Residenz can last anywhere from 3 hours to all day. The 16th-century, 70-meter-long arched Antiquarium, built for Duke Albrecht V's collection of antiques and library, is recognized as one of the most impressive Renaissance creations outside Italy (today it's used chiefly for state receptions). There are a number of halls and courtyards that show concerts, from the postwar Neuer Herkulessaal to the outdoor Brunnenhof. And particular favorites for visitors are the re-creation of many private royal chambers and apartments. The accumulated Wittelsbach treasures are on view in several museums that comprise the Residenz. All the different rooms, halls, galleries, chapels, and museums within the Residenzmuseum, as well as the Cuvilliés-Theater and Treasury, can be visited with a combination ticket that costs €13.
Schatzkammer. The Schatzkammer comprises many hundreds of masterworks, including a host of treasures from the Wittelsbach royal crown jewels. A highlight is the crown belonging to Bavaria's first king, Maximilian I, created in Paris in 1806–07. The Schatzkammer collection has a staggering centerpiece—a renowned 50-cm-high Renaissance statue of St. George studded with diamonds, pearls, and rubies. 1a Residenzs. €7, combined ticket with Residenzmuseum €11. Mid-Apr.–mid-Oct., daily 9–6; mid-Oct.–mid-Mar., daily 10–5.
Residenzmuseum. The Residenzmuseum comprises everything in the Residenz apart from the Schatzkammer (Treasury) and the Cuvilliés-Theater. Paintings, tapestries, furniture, and porcelain are housed in various rooms and halls. Look out for the Grüne Galerie (Green Gallery), named after its green silk decoration, and the great and the good of the Wittelsbach royal family in the Ahnengalerie (Ancestral Gallery). Entrance on Max-Jospeh-Platz. Max-Koseph-Platz, Altstadt-Lehel, 80333. €7. Mid-Apr.–mid-Oct., daily 9–6; mid-Oct.–mid-Mar., daily 10–5.
Staatliche Münzsammlung. More than 300,000 coins, bank notes, medals and stones, some 5,000 years old, star in the Staatliche Münzsammlung. 1 Residenzs. Entrance via Residenzstr. 089/227221. €2.50, €1 Sun. Tues.–Sun. 10–5.
Staatliche Sammlung Ägyptischer Kunst. Various Bavarian rulers were fascinated with the ancient world and in the 19th century accumulated huge quantities of significant Egyptian treasures, part of which make up the Staatliche Sammlung Ägyptischer Kunst. In 2013 the collection moved from the Residenz to an impressive new building in Munich's superb Kunstareal (Art Quarter). Arcisstraße 16, Maxvorstadt, 80333. 089/2892–7630. www.aegyptisches-museum-muenchen.de/. €7, Sun. €1. Wed.–Sun 10–6, Tues. 10–8. Königsplatz (U-bahn).
Cuvilliés-Theater. This stunning example of a rococo theater was originally built by court architet François Cuvilliés between 1751 and 1753 and it soon became the most famous in Germany. In 1781 it premiered Mozart's Idomeneo, commissioned by the Elector of Bavaria, Karl Theodor. The lavish rococo style went out of fashion with the emergence of the less ostentatious, more elegant period of 18th classicism. But in 1884 it became the first theater in Germany to be fitted out with electric lighting and in 1896 the first to have a revolving stage. As with so much of the Altstadt, it was destroyed during Allied bombing raids, although some of the original rococo decoration had been removed. In its place the New Residenztheater (now the Bavarian State Drama Theatre Company) was built (1948–51). In 1956–58, using some of the original rococo furnishings, Cuvilliés's lavish theater was rebuilt in its present location, at a corner of the Residenz's Apothekenhof (courtyard). After extensive restoration work, it reopened in 2008 with a performance of Idomeneo. It's home to the hugely respected Bavarian State Opera, led by American conductor Kent Nagano. Max-Joseph-Platz 2, 80539. Enter via Residenzstr. 1. For opera tickets: www.bayerische.staatsoper.de. €3 to view the theater. Closed during rehearsals.