Friday, 24 October 2014
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Distance from hotel: 2.6 km

Maximilianeum / Bavarian Parliament

In his 1839 list of projects to be undertaken after his accession to the throne (1848), Crown Prince Maximilian also included the enlargement of the city to the east through the construction of a new road. This project took on more concrete shape when the architect Friedrich Bürklein submitted plans to King Max II in 1851 "for the embellishment of Munich", in which the link between the old town and Haidhausen was defined as a road leading to a "forum", bridges and an "acropolis". In 1853, work began on building the new 1200 metre road, which from 1858 on was officially named "Maximilianstrasse". In 1858, the director of public works, Arnold Zenetti, built bridges across the River Isar and Prater Island. In order to give Munich's splendid new road a uniform appearance, Max II commissioned architects to design facades for its buildings. They were thereby required to conform to a new style specified by the king, the so-called "Maximilian style". Based on Anglo-Saxon neo-Gothic architecture, the aim was to combine the best from all historical epochs with modern construction techniques.

The Maximilianeum building was planned at the same time as the Maximilianstrasse. In 1850, the king decided to hold an international architectural competition "for an institution of higher learning and teaching". In 1854, the first prize was awarded to Wilhelm Stier, director of public works in Berlin, but the king rejected the design, and not only on account of the cost. Instead, without further ado, he entrusted the project to Friedrich Bürklein (1813-1872), who had already proved through his plan for the embellishment of the city how well he could respond to the king's own ideas.

Max II was able to lay the foundation stone for Bürklein's building on 5 October 1857. In February 1864, shortly before his sudden death, and in response to growing criticism, the king ordered a change in the plans, despite the fact that the central section of the west building was already above first-floor level. The Gothic arches as originally planned were to be replaced by ones in neo-Renaissance style, and the pilasters by an arrangement of columns. Thus, the planning and building history of the Maximilianeum marks both the beginning and the end of the Maximilian style. The building was finally completed in 1874.

Up to 1918, the Maximilianeum housed not only the Scholarship Foundation and a "historical gallery", but also the royal "pagerie" (school for the education of pages). Until just before the end of World War II, the Munich Art Exhibition was held in the halls of the gallery, while in the arcades "the highest café in Munich" offered guests a magnificent panoramic view. But then two-thirds of the building was destroyed by bombs. It was therefore a stroke of luck that, in 1949, the Bavarian Landtag chose the Maximilianeum as its seat. This made alterations necessary to what had so far been the rooms of the gallery. The building soon became too small, however, and in 1958/59 and 1964/65, wings were added to the eastern part to house office and conference rooms. An underground car park was built in 1993, and two more wings were added by October 1994.

Since 1998, an access building has connected the car park to the old building. In the course of construction work, the historical foundation stone of the Maximilianeum was rediscovered. Objects found together with the foundation stone, such as gold coins, portraits of the royal couple and a model locomotive, are now on display in the Stone Hall of the Maximilianeum.

The exterior and its artwork

Standing in a dominant position on the eastern bank of the Isar and approached by a sweeping roadway, the extensive building rises like a gloriette. Resting on a high base, the front with its flat roof consists of a slightly concave central section and two straight side wings. The two rows of round arches are bounded by a three-storey open tower at each end. The figures and artwork on the west facade can be seen from a considerable distance, and proclaim the purpose of the original building as an "institution of higher learning and teaching".


For example, the mosaics on the centre projection depict the endowment of Ettal Monastery by Emperor Ludwig IV, demonstrating the piety and charity of the ruling Bavarian dynasty. This scene is flanked by the inauguration of the University of Ingolstadt and the triumph of the poet Wolfram von Eschenbach at the contest of the Minnesingers at the Wartburg as a symbol for science and art, which had flourished in Bavaria since time immemorial. The mosaics on the northern projection depict the signing of the Treaty of Pavia as an example of the Wittelsbach king's statesmanship. The scientific instruments shown on both sides refer to the cycle of frescoes shown in the hall beneath. The counterpart on the southern projection represents the liberation of Vienna from the Turks as an outstanding demonstration of the art of war, while the war trophies on both sides again pick up the theme of the room inside. The 22 busts above the lower row of arcades are portraits of "benefactors, inventors, sages, men of letters, statesmen and military commanders" (at the north: from Homer to St. Francis of Assisi; at the south: from Gustavus II Adolphus to Pythagoras).

The interior and its furnishings

On entering the Maximilianeum through the main portal to the west, visitors first find themselves in a vestibule. Looking up the staircase, a monumental Late Gothic crucifix from Chieming can be seen in the gallery. Halfway up, the staircase divides into two flights, leading to the open arcades of the Stone Hall. Besides portraits of the young King Max II by Julius Zimmermann and the first Bavarian king, Max 1 Josef, by Moritz Kellerhoven, two huge paintings on canvas hang on the walls: to the south, "The Coronation of the Emperor Charlemagne" by Friedrich Kaulbach (1861), and to the north, "The Coronation of Ludwig the Bavarian" by August von Kreling (1859). They are the remnants of altogether 30 works commissioned by King Maximilian II, depicting landmark events in world history (from the Fall of Man, through to the Battle of Nations at Leipzig).

The south-eastern of the four portals leads to the Plenary Chamber of the Bavarian Landtag, with the benches for the deputies arranged in a semi-circle. On the front wall hangs a magnificent tapestry designed by Hermann Kaspar, showing the Great Bavarian State Coat of Arms and the coats of arms of the Bavarian cities which are seats of regional government. On the opposite wall, the naval battle of Salamis rages in an oil painting by Wilhelm von Kaulbach. The north-eastern portal provides access to the so-called "Senate Chamber". This room was used by the Bavarian Senate (the "second chamber" of the Bavarian parliament) until this was abolished by referendum on 1 January 2000. The north-western portal of the Stone Hall opens into the northern covered walk, or "Presidents' Corridor", which takes its name from the portraits of former presidents of the Landtag which hang there. The corridor ends at what is now the Conference Room, which is used for ceremonial receptions and meetings of the Council of Elders. The east wall of the central area is covered by a fresco by Engelbert Seibertz, which shows the Maximilianeum in its neo-Gothic form as originally planned, prior to the changes of 1864. It depicts the imaginary introduction of Alexander von Humboldt into a circle of illustrious Bavarian artists and scientists. The other walls of the Conference Room are decorated with full-figure portraits by Georg Hiltensperger of six "benefactors" and six "inventors".

These paintings were intended to supplement a cycle of busts, which once extended along the whole length of the northern and southern covered walks, as in a hall of fame. Today, a historical painting by Philipp Foltz, "The Humiliation of Frederick Barbarossa by Henry the Lion", now hangs here instead. The adjoining room, which serves as a reading room for the members of the Landtag, is the counterpart to the Conference Room. The frescoes on the eastern wall, which showed an assembly of leading statesmen at the time of the Congress of Vienna, have been lost. In their place hangs Karl Theodor von Piloty's oil sketch for his painting of the contest of Minnesingers at the Wartburg. The full-figure portraits by Friedrich Pecht on the other walls represent six military leaders and six statesmen of Europe.