Everything you need to know about visiting the Ruhmeshalle and climbing the beautiful Bavaria Statue in Munich
Did you know that there is a colossal sculpture in Munich that predates the Statue of Liberty? Right above the Oktoberfest festival ground, you’ll find a beautiful neo-classical memorial called Ruhmeshalle (“hall of fame”). In front of it, on a big pedestal stands a deified allegory of the state of Bavaria.
It’s quite a lovely spot to visit if you got some spare time in my hometown. Not all tourist guides mention her. But I personally think she is definitely among the best places to visit in Munich – especially as it’s usually a bit quieter. Here’s everything you need to know as a tourist:
Back at the beginning of the 19th century, Bavaria was ravaged by wars multiple times. After the Napoleonic wars, Bavaria finally was able to gain independence, but the fledgling kingdom still lacked a true state identity. This was why King Ludwig I. started a couple of projects to glorify the past. The Walhalla near Regensburg or the Hall of Liberty near Kehlheim are just two of them.
But the king also wanted a patriotic memorial directly in the capital Munich. After a competition, the winner was a design by architect Leo von Klenze. He envisioned something reminiscent of the great altar temples of the Greek antiquity. But the contemporaries were most enthusiastic about his idea to build a colossal statue in front of the “temple”.
In Europe, this was something that hasn’t been done since Roman times. Emperor Nero’s gigantic statue (now destroyed) in front of the Coliseum in Rome instantly comes to mind. King Ludwig was well aware that building such a gigantic statue would put him on the same level as the mighty Roman Emperor – quite appealing, eh?
Unlike the hall of fame itself, the Bavaria statue follows a romantic Germanic design. In her upraised arm, she holds an oak wreath (and not a laurel wreath). She is glad in a bear fur, holds a sword and a lion stands right next to her. The perfect symbol for the well-fortified state of Bavaria.
She was finished in 1850. With a height of 18.52 meters and a weight of 87.36 tons, she was a technical masterpiece of that area. The techniques to cast such colossal statues made of bronze were all but lost (with a few exceptions in renaissance Italy).
As such, she is a predecessor and prototype for all the colossal statues that would follow in the next 50 years. The Statue of Liberty (1886) in New York City is just one of them. In Germany, you can also visit the Hermannsdenkmal (1875) and the Niederwalddenkmal (1883).
Climbing the statue
It’s possible to climb the statue – another hint that it must have served as one of the inspirations for the Statue of Liberty. But do remember, the statue is not very big and there’s only a very narrow spiral staircase leading all the way to the top. There are two fantastic bronze benches in the head and a tiny little viewing hole. The view is quite lovely but due to the size of the hole, it’s actually quite hard to enjoy it.
Is it worth it? If you are traveling to Munich with kids, then I’m sure they’ll enjoy it. Sometimes there are long queues in front of the statue and I’m not sure it’s worth waiting an hour or more to get to the top.
In summer, it can be incredibly hot inside. There’s barely any ventilation and you can expect to break into quite a sweat. The views from the top are not that much different from the base. The whole Ruhmeshalle already stands atop a hill.
- Entrance fee Bavaria Statue: 5 Euros (the rest of the grounds is free to enter)
- Opening hours Bavaria Statue: April – October (9 am – 6 pm; during Oktoberfest till 8 pm)
Note: Tickets are sold at the base of the statue. Bring cash.
You can also tour the hall of fame itself. Inside, you’ll find portrait busts of important Bavarian politicians, artists, generals, theologists, and scientists. It’s very beautiful to look at, but I’m not sure how interesting it will be for non-locals.
There are altogether 92 busts, though some were destroyed during World War II. Ironically, they are all men. The first two women were added in 2000. Though another two were added in 2009.
During Oktoberfest, this is a very popular spot. The actual hall of fame is closed, but the platform offers a beautiful view of the festival grounds – even if you don’t climb all the way up.
How to get to the Bavaria Statue / Ruhmeshalle
The easiest way to get there is to take the subway U4 or U5 and exit at Schwanthalerhöhe. From here, it’s a short walk of maybe 500 meters to the Ruhmeshalle. Bus 134 also stops there.
As an alternative, you could also walk from the subway station Goetheplatz. You’ll have to cross the festival grounds and it will take about 10 minutes.