Munich derives its name from the old German word "Moenche" which means monks, who were settled on the banks of the Isar from around 700AD. Munich was first given town status in 1158 when Henry the Lion built a bridge across the river near to the monks settlement. The first recorded fortification was constructed in 1175 and in 1214 Munich was given city status.
In 1180 Otto Wittelsbach was made Duke of Bavaria and it became the home of the Wittelsbach dynasty until 1918. The Frauenkirche, which dominates the skyline of Munich and is the city cathedral, was started in 1494 and in 1506 the Dukedom of Bavaria was reunited with Munich and the city became its capital.
1589 saw the opening of the Hofbraeuhaus and 200 years later the Englischer Garten was completed.
In 1806 Munich became the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria and Maximilian I the King, with the approval of Napoleon with whom they had an alliance during the war. This era became the golden age of the Wittelsbach dynasty.
1825 - 1848 Ludwig I developed Munich into a city for art that was renowned throughout the world.
1848 - 1864 Maximilian II the creator of the "Maximilian" style of architecture.
1864 - 1886 Ludwig II also known as "The Dream King" made Munich a city for music and his friendship with Richard Wagner ensured the premier of many of his works at the Royal Court. Ludwig II was also known for building many castles around Munich including Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau and Linderhof.
Many industrial milestones occurred in the 1800's with the railways arriving in the city in 1839, the trams in 1876 and electric light in 1882.
The city had 500,000 residents in 1901 and the zoo was built in royal hunting grounds in 1911.
After Germany's defeat in World War I the rule of the Wittelsbach's came to an end and Freistaat Bayern (Free State of Bavaria) was formed. In the 1920's and 30's the country was governed by the Bavarian Peoples Party who opposed the politics of "red" Berlin, but this opposition was not to last long. In 1933 Hitler overthrew the Bavarian government and took power and he regularly visited the city and Bavaria until his death. At the end of the Second World War the Americans marched into Munich and took control.
The city celebrated 800 years in 1958 and to this day the birthday celebrations are a major event in the city every year with live music and dancing in the Marienplatz.
The city hosted the Summer Olympics in 1972 and hope to be the first city to host Summer and Winter Games if they are successful with their bid for the 2018 Winter Games.
Munich has a nearly unbroken history of SPD governments since World War II, which is unusual because the rest of Bavaria is a conservative stronghold, with the Christian Social Union winning absolute majorities among the Bavarian electorate in many elections at local, state, and federal levels. Munich's current mayor is Christian Ude of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
Munich is currently governed by a coalition of the SPD, the Greens and the Rosa Liste (Pink List, a gay rights party).
As the capital of the Free State of Bavaria, Munich is an important political centre in Germany and the seat of the Bavarian State Parliament, the Staatskanzlei (the State Chancellery) and of all state departments.
Today Munich is the high tech capital of Germany. Many companies have their European headquarters here and companies such as BMW, MAN trucks and Siemens have a heavy presence in the city. It is the centre for the Bavarian film industry and films such as Never Ending Story were filmed here as well as scenes from the Great Escape. Munich has the highest density of publishing houses outside New York.