If you’re embracing the freedom of returning to normal life again, why not fit in a self-guided bicycle tour of Munich’s arty mansions to ease the process?
Believe it or not, Munich has an enviable number of elaborate Art Nouveau mansions just a short walk from the cafes of Marienplatz!
What is Art Nouveau?
Art Nouveau is a style of architecture/design, also known in Germany as Jugendstil. Think Pre-Raphaelite long-haired beauties, Paris Metro signs and Gaudi’s famed houses in Barcelona! All of these styles are Art Nouveau at its best! Anyone hoping to achieve this style needs to focus on a few key elements…. natural, organic lines, plants incorporated every which way you can and subtle colours. Art Nouveau can also proudly say it invented the elegant whiplash curve, seen today in popular advertising!
The scandalous style of Art Nouveau was born in a glamorous sounding era known as the Belle Epoque just before World War One. It defied the strict rules of architecture and paved a way for more whimsical and natural buildings! Munich was one of the most important cities within the Art Nouveau movement and luckily the evidence remains today! Munich’s illustrated magazine ‘Die Jugend’, is the origin of the name ‘Jugendstil’. There Munich goes again, trendsetting!
Where can I find Art Nouveau in Munich?
The best areas in Munich for hunting down some of these elaborate mansions are the residential neighbourhoods of Schwabing and Bogenhausen. But this beautiful style is not just reserved for elaborate houses; it can also be discovered at the Volksbad public swimming pool! Who said changing rooms had to be sterile and boring!? So here are the 10 best examples of Art Nouveau on show in Munich!
10 Best Examples of Art Nouveau in Munich
1. Adam and Eve’s House
Ainmillerstrasse cannot and must not be missed on an Art Nouveau Tour of Munich, especially number 22! This house, more fondly known as ‘The Garden of Eden’, is one of the finest examples in the city!
Some of its greatest elaborate details are close to eye height, making it one of the most memorable! Just above the doorway, you will see a naked couple facing one another, under a tree, the woman holding out an apple to her partner. It’s Eve!
Creating scenes of Adam and Eve became very popular in the movement and variations of the pair can even be seen in Gustav Klimt’s evocative painting, The Kiss! When the fresco of the ‘original sinners’ was first added to the house, it caused a local uproar!
– Ainmillerstrasse 22, Schwabing
2. The Double Archway
You needn’t wander far for the next one! At number 20 Ainmillerstrasse is a very Instagrammable double archway to the Bookworm Nursery School. The mustard coloured door and pink wall are sheltered by a thick but decorative stone arch, the top of which is decorated with the giant face of the smiling Green Man.
The Green Man is a symbol of rebirth and nature which perfectly ties in with Art Nouveau themes! Though, I’m not sure if his face scares the nursery children or not!
– Ainmillerstrasse 20, Schwabing
3. The Egyptian House
Another fearsome face to keep an eye out for, is the one above the entrance to ‘The Egyptian House’! The observant among you might notice the similarities between this house and the first one. Both houses were designed by the same architects!
Number 11 on Römerstrasse is definitely eye-catching, decorated in red striped pillars and peacock feather style flowers! The owner who hired the Art Nouveau architects was obsessed with ancient Egypt and wanted his house to reflect his passion!
So you may be thinking, why is there a Greek God fresco and not an Egyptian one? Next to the entrance is a fresco of the Greek God Narcissus, vainly staring into his mirror for eternity! However, it is not the face of beautiful Narcissus that will scare you, but the one above the doorway which I can only describe as a chocolate Malteaser wearing the gold edition of Magneto’s metal helmet (X-men reference)! This face is also repeated on the upper storeys of the house!
– Römerstrasse 11, Schwabing
4. The Park House
This house is a little more secreted away than the others! To find it you have to venture into Leopoldpark (check our map here for the exact location point).
Just down the path, on the left, you will come across a large gateway in the bushes, overlooked by an elegant house and garden! The facade is decorated with colourful fruits and flowers, not to mention two peacocks above the top window! I can only imagine how nice it must be to sit on the balcony overlooking the park and the roses in the garden below!
– Leopold Park, Schwabing
5. The Secret Doorway
With a keen eye, you should come across more of these miniature doors in Bogenhausen and Schwabing! However, this one immediately caught my attention!
This little doorway is now the entrance to the bike shed for the apartment building above. I’d love to think it was once the entrance to a home! There are other Art Nouveau doorways in the Schwabing area that stand out like this one, many framed with flower archways! Keep an eye out!
– Isabellastraße 22, Schwabing
6. The Liquorice Swirl House
Just around the corner from Leopoldpark, at 23 Franz-Josephstraße there is a house which always reminds me of liquorice swirls or salt rock candy! The pillars of the balcony are twisted into black and white chequers and the windows above lined with bright red and blue accents! Also, keep an eye out for the little smiling man sitting under the window.
As much as I love this gem of a house, hidden behind the trees, its best features are not at street level, making it harder to enjoy. However, the other side of the house has a bold green framed entrance and the neighbouring houses have pretty decorative features. House number 19 (the back of the Park House) is particularly attractive and now houses an apothecary, meaning you can finally wander inside one of these beautiful buildings!
– 23 Franz-Josephstraße
7. The Mansion of Freiheit
One of the most sizeable examples of Art Nouveau in Munich can be found opposite the Münchner Freiheit bus stop! This enormous blue facade even has fruit tree frescoes and a turret!
– Leopoldstrasse 77, Schwabing
8. Portrait Palace
Hidden away on the corner of number10 Georgenstraße, behind a blossom tree, is the beautiful facade of Bissing Palace!
If you peer through the railings you will also spot the decorative entrance to the Palace. The palaces on Georgenstraße are just a handful of the 37 historical buildings on this street! Interestingly, the paintings on Bising Palace were actually added after Art Nouveau had gone out of fashion, to celebrate the neighbourhood’s artistic past. See if you can recognise the portraits!
– 10 Georgenstrasse, Schwabing
9. The Riverside Castle
On the other side of the Isar from Schwabing, near Villa Stuck, is a street lined with castle sized homes with turrets. The most beautiful is Villa Bechtolscheim at number 27 Maria-Theresia Straße, the first Jugendstil house in Germany.
This blue castle of a house is flowing with the tendrils of white vines wrapping around the turret and in between the circular windows. I can only imagine how magical the room inside looks!
– 27 Maria-Theresia Strasse, Bogenhausen
10. Müllersches Volksbad
The Volksbad deserves to be number 10 for its uniqueness. It is considered the jewel of Munich’s Art Nouveau gallery!
This public indoor pool was the first in Munich and was inspired by Oriental bathhouses and the thermal spas of ancient Rome. Even the changing rooms are an architectural experience! Despite the Volksbad’s luxurious appearance, it was commissioned upon the promise that it remains open to the public and not become a hideout for the elite. So you’re welcome to enjoy it, for less than €7! Still maybe a bit steep, but then again, it’s Munich.
– Müllersches Volksbad, Rosenheimerstraße 1
Art Nouveau in Munich Map
For your convenience, you can check out the map below for all the location points mentioned above! Feel free to open it on mobile and use it as your guide!
We hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of Art Nouveau in Munich!
Of course, there are many other examples of Art Nouveau to be found around the city. However, these are the ones I personally find most memorable! So, enjoy tracking down your Art Nouveau treasures whilst enjoying the city by bike!