Bavaria’s Center of Royal History – Dachau

Denise Chen - Feb 28, 2011
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Dachau is known around the world as a learning and memorial site, the city aims to counteract its past falling into oblivion. At the same time, the more than 1200 years old town is famous for its amazingly diverse arts and cultural scene, even beyond the region.

On 15 August 805 the noble lady Erchana from the comital family of the Aribones donated her estate in (then so-called) “Dahauua” to the diocese Freising. With the deed of donation Dachau was mentioned for the first time. It emerged at the crossway between a wide swampland and wooded hill country and was named “market” already in 1270. The advantageous location at the connecting from Munich to Augsburg brought Dachau not only liberties and gains but also war and misery. One of the worst periods for the people of Dachau came during the Thirty Year’s War, when the market was sieged and plundered by the Swedes.

Towards the 19th century Dachau was discovered by painters. They found many attractive natural motives in the marsh and swamplands and by the beginning of the 20th century Dachau was among the most famous artists’ colonies besides Worpswede. The names of many famous artists are connected with the town to this day, among them Carl Spitzweg, Max Liebermann, and Lovis Corinth.

Particularly women increasingly discovered the art of painting and participated in private painting classes offered by the artist’s colonies, since they were not admitted at the State Academy in Munich before 1926. Their works are still on display today at Dachau’s Art Gallery and the town of Dachau is an actively participating member of the association of European artist colonies, EuroArt.

During World War I Dachau impoverished and with the institution of the concentration camp in 1933 the reputable artist’s town became the epitome of the inhuman NS terror. Today it is the town’s highest maxim to keep the memory of the events alive. The concentration camp memorial site with museum and archive contribute to this considerably, as do the dialogues with contemporary witnesses, the international youth meetings, an annual symposium on contemporary history and much more.

After World War II expellees from the eastern provinces of Germany found a new home in Dachau. Nowadays the greater district town of Dachau counts more than 42 000 inhabitants. It is not only a central European place of learning and commemorating but also an important art – and cultural center in the metropolitan Munich area.

Today Dachau, the former city of the Bavarian Kings, beckons visitors to get to know the town with all its diversity: the summer residence of the House of Wittelsbach as well as the important European artists’ colony at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Worth seeing are the picturesque Old Town with Art Gallery, St. Jakob parish church and District Museum, among others. During the summertime, the typical Bavarian atmosphere can be experienced at the so called “Dachauer Volksfest”, a traditional folk festival in August, renowned not only for its low beer price.

In recent years Dachau has been focusing increasingly on top range open-air events during the annual “Dachauer Musiksommer“ (June/July)."Jazz in allen Gassen"(jazz in all alleys) or the famous “Baroque picnic” held in the courtyard of Dachau castle are fix highlights in Dachau's annual events calendar. Famous far beyond the city limits are also the series of classical Dachau palace concerts each year, with 6 concerts scheduled throughout the year featuring world renowned orchestras and solo artists.

Dachau is conveniently reached by train or by car from Munich within just 20 minutes. That makes it an attractive day excursion as well.

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