The Viktualienmarkt is a daily market in downtown Munich with 140 stalls and stores that sell a diverse range of goods such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, herbs and spices, flowers, wine and spirits, crafts, and much more.
There is a beer garden with a spread of picnic tables where people can enjoy beer purchased from a stall in which the 7 different Munich breweries take turns selling their product. There are a few food vendors available for those who might want a hot sandwich or pretzel to accompany their beverages.
I can’t find a date for when the market first started. The earliest date I found was 1807, the year in which the market outgrew its current location in Marienplatz, the popular and central square in front of the two town halls, and was moved a few metres away to its present location. It was some time after this move when the “green market” or “food market” became known as the “Viktualienmarkt.” Victual is a Latin word for food.
A towering maypole is a central feature of the market. The maypole is decorated in the traditional colours of Bavaria, white and blue, and is also adorned with paintings that depict the trades and crafts of this part of Munich. The official Munich website states that maypoles “date from the ages of general illiteracy and served to represent a village or later, as in this case, a borough and its trades to traveling salesmen or traveling craftsmen looking to learn from a new master to learn from.”
Neil and I also overheard a tour guide saying that a tradition between rival towns is to steal each other’s maypoles. I’m not sure how this is possible – maypoles are tall and it seems like they would be a little… unwieldy.
You might have heard of the Bavarian Beer Purity Law. This law was enacted in 1516 so that only beers made with three ingredients – hops, barley malt, and water (yeast was unknown at the time) – could be labelled as being a” pure German beer.” Beer was a staple in the diet of people of the Middle Ages and so it was important that it be of high quality at an affordable price. This law continues today. There were earlier versions of this Purity law, and the sign on the Maypole below references a Munich Beer Purity Act of 1487.
The market square also features memorial wells for folk singers and comedians.
Overall, it’s a lovely place with a great atmosphere, and definitely a city highlight. I half-jokingly said to Neil that I would move to Munich just for the market, which is open six days a week (not on Sundays).
Here is a photographic tour of the different things you can find at the market. Let’s just say, in addition to my usual obsession with flowers, I’m going to be in so much trouble when the official Christmas markets start springing up.
It’s decorative gourd season, guys.
Decorative cabbages are definitely a thing here. I love it!
Decorative artichoke, anyone?
Neil caught me standing by my favourite market stall (the one with all the flowers and Christmas ornaments).
These made me think of my sister-in-law, Pauline, who makes beautiful Christmas wreaths. I like the cute little elves in the corner, too.
More decorative cabbages. (You could probably eat these ones too, but why would you?).
These are gorgeous.
They make wreaths out of everything!
Silly goose. (Geese).
So many beautiful and delicious things. Definitely worth a visit.