One of Germany's true treasures, Munich's royal Residenz (Residence) began in 1385 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 Residenzstrasse, while most of the Neuveste 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 subsequent reconstruction took decades. For tourists today, however, it really is a treasure chamber of delight. A wander around the Residenz can last anywhere from three hours to all day. The 16th-century, 72-yard-long arched Antiquarium, built for Duke Albrecht V's collection of antiques, 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-creations of many private royal chambers and apartments. The accumulated Wittelsbach treasures are on view in several museums that comprise the Residenz.