In southern Munich, Germany on the edge of the Theresienwiese — perhaps best known for playing home every year to Oktoberfest — stands a woman. Nearly 61 feet tall, she is clothed classically in a draped Grecian gown. At her feet, a lion sits loyally at her side while her left arm is outstretched with a wreath of oak leaves. She represents Bavaria. It would be easy to draw comparisons to another famous female: the Statue of Liberty. But the Bavaria statue, as she is called, is older. And Lady Bavaria has got a bit of a secret!
The History of the Bavaria Statue
The Bavaria statue is a masterpiece and a technical achievement because of the statue’s sheer size and the fact that it is entirely cast out of bronze. It was designed by Ludwig Schwanthaler and cast by J. B. Stiglmair and his nephew Ferdinand von Miller. The statue was assembled, unveiled and dedicated in 1850. The year would have celebrated the 25th year of Ludwig I’s reign. Ludwig I was the ruler who commissioned the statue, along with others, to demonstrate Bavaria’s greatness. He abdicated, however, two years prior in favor of his son, Maximilian.
Statue of Bavaria and Ruhmeshalle
Today, Bavaria sits in the same location with the Ruhmeshalle, or Hall of Fame, just behind her. The Hall of Fame is a massive open air, columned hallway designed by Leo von Klenze in order to show off busts of famous and notable Bavarians. Although the Hall of Fame was temporarily closed for renovations during my visit in 2015, you are still able to admire the architecture as well as the busts from afar.
As of 2017, the Ruhmeshalle’s renovations have been completed and is reopened to the public.
Bavaria Monument’s Secret
But while Bavaria is beautiful to look at and marvel over — that’s both the place as well as the statue — she has a secret. Inside the towering statue is a spiral staircase that leads up into the top of the statue!
It is a very narrow climb that makes any lighthouse that I’ve been to seem spacious. Once at the top, there are more surprises. Couches have been cast in the bronze as a seat for visitors. Take a rest and then peek out one of several small windows for wonderful views over the Theresienwiese and the city of Munich. It’s a surprise you won’t expect and it has a good sense of humor. Who knew Bavaria was so cheeky?
It is a tight squeeze but well worth the trip. Just take my advice: watch your head when you are inside Bavaria’s!
Statue of Bavaria Tips
The Bavaria statue and the Ruhmeshalle are both operated and maintained by the Bavarian Palace Department. Visitors to the state of Bavaria that plan to visit several of the palaces and gardens operated by the department can save money by purchasing a palace pass.
For even more Bavaria, visit the Deutsches Museum to see a recasting of Bavaria’s hand up close.
The easiest way to get to the Bavaria statue and the Hall of Fame is via public transportation. The U4 and U5 lines of the U-Bahn have a Theresienwiese stop.
Also, it’s important to note that while you can always admire the Statue of Bavaria and Hall of Fame from the outside, both sites are only open from April through October.
Visitors to Oktoberfest may also enjoy visiting the statue as there are extended visitor hours during the festival.
All photos, as well as all opinions, are my own.