That we don’t often visit the usual tourist attractions whilst travelling isn’t something new, in fact we don’t miss any occasion to repeat to ourselves and to anybody else that we are more keen to see off-the-beaten path areas for their beauty of being still unspoiled and undiscovered by mass tourism. There are always exceptions though and that’s for us too!
Whilst housesitting in the Bavarian capital and lovely city of Munich we couldn’t resist to taking ourselves to what is defined as THE number one attraction of the city, and considering that everyone kept repeating to us that no visit to Munich is complete without popping by the well known Hofbräuhaus beer hall we didn’t think twice about going.
Involuntarily Playing a Big Party In History
With no intentions of getting drunk and feasting on German sausages (because as you know, we’re vegetarian) the main reason for us to go to the Hofbräuhaus was simply curiosity. In fact the Hofbräuhaus is the oldest beer hall in Munich and it was originally founded as a brewery for the royal residence but it’s stayed public and owned by the Bavarian Government ever since. Not being huge beer drinkers (myself especially), we were more interested and fascinated by the history of Hofbräuhaus. There was something else very intriguing that I wasn’t aware of, but that Dale read beforehand. The Hofbräuhaus, together with other beer halls in Munich, used to be where the Nazi Party held their functions and meeting to discuss their policies and occasionally did their talks to who ever was present at the hall drinking beer. It’s not a secret that almost 100 years ago Adolf Hitler himself announced the famous 25-point program of the party to a crowd of somewhere around 2000 people at the Hofbräuhaus that night.
Dale has always been a huge history fan especially of those dark years and I too get easily captivated by details like this one, which gave us another reason to visit the Hofbräuhaus. We had to! We couldn’t miss the opportunity to see a place where, between one beer and another, tactics had probably been decided and the course of history had been changed. So very fascinating!
Let the Tour Begin
One day, after having stuffed our faces with some great mexican food thanks to a tip that fellow blogger Eva from Passports and Pamplemousse gave us, we made our way to the Hofbräuhaus. As we stepped in I soon got overwhelmed by the loud noise of people chatting, laughing and clinking their large beer glasses. A huge hall appeared before our eyes and it was packed, b>literally. That was something to be expected from Munichs main attraction – I wasn’t surprised at all – but I just wasn’t imagining the Hofbräuhaus to be such a big place.
Every long wooden table was filled with plenty of beer, steaming food, giant salty pretzels and jolly people having a good time. Than I raised my eyes and noticed the amazing colorful decoration on the ceiling, the typical Bavarian architecture and the big and heavy looking iron lights. It felt very welcoming and even if it was full of people it felt in a way cozy too. We walked around a little bit and eventually decided to sit down to see what the fuss was all about. We managed to find a little corner sharing a table with someone else and made our order of two 1 liter sized glasses of dark beer (it’s the only way they serve beer) and two vegetarian Bavarian soups which we weren’t expecting to find at all between the meaty dishes.
Almost Feeling Like One of Them
I’m so glad we did take our time, we sat down and enjoyed our drinks and food. I finally understood why the Hofbräuhaus and beer halls in general are such a popular thing amongst tourists but also much more for locals. Soon we got immersed by the traditional and fun beer hall atmosphere, enjoying listening to the Bavarian Oompah band playing to keep the spirit high, enjoyed the home-brewed beer surrounded by a lovely environment and a great traditionally designed hall.
By feeling underneath our fingertips the engraving of names and messages left on the tables we imagined how many generations had been sitting there drinking beer and talking politics perhaps for so many years. I finally got why the Hofbräuhaus was so famous, it wasn’t only for its history but also for the sense of community that it represents and still does for the people living in Munich. In fact the Hofbräuhaus isn’t simply a place to get drunk (not only at least) but it is more of a meeting point and in a way the proud symbol of Bavarian traditions and their past too.
Saying that the Hofbräuhaus is a tourist trap isn’t totally correct and I now slightly disagree with it. The fact that there were plenty of tourists there is true, but we noticed that there were as many locals that proudly showed how much they value what is a Bavarian institution for them, by even dressing for the occasion with typical clothes, hats and badges. At the beginning I thought these people were maybe paid to dress that way to give a traditional look to the Hofbräuhaus and draw more visitors and business, but I was so wrong. These locals are regulars, they are called Stammgäste and have their tables reserved weekly or even daily for some of them. If they dress with old fashioned Bavarian clothes it’s because they don’t want to loose the traditions that are tied to such an essential part of the Bavarian history and culture.
The Cherry on The Cake
On our way out we also saw something else that reinforced the fact that Hofbräuhaus isn’t the usual tourist trap. There was a locker for beer steins (a typical glass for drinking German beer) – how cool is that? Loyal and returning customers have their own stein that can be stored on this locker rack which must be a very nice privilege and perhaps even an honour for them!
Despite my initial skepticism about the Hofbräuhaus for being such a popular tourist destination, I loved it, I enjoyed its atmosphere and felt a little drawn in by it. So if you are in Munich and someone says to you that you MUST visit this historic beer hall, you should definitely give it a try.