For about €1.50, we discovered that you can climb the Peterskirche and get a good (and cheaper) view of the city of Munich than most other towers on offer. So, after eating our body weight in Bavarian food at the famous Hofbrauhaus, and sipping on cheeky little take away cans of Hugos (fizzy elderflower champagne, not very alcoholic but nevertheless…), we decided it would be a great idea to climb a tower with 306 stairs. The platform circling the top of the church’s tower is 56 metres up, which isn’t as high as other points in the city. However, the church sits on top of a bit of an incline within the centre of Munich.
I’ve climbed quite a few towers in my time. For some reason, despite my dislike of climbing stairs in general, I enjoy the height that looking out from the top of towers gives you. It’s a great way to get a feel of the land, to really realize you are there. In Paris you can get that height on the Eiffel Tower of course, but it’s also possible from places like Montematre and le Grand Arche at La Defense. In Split in Croatia my friend and I clambered the stairs of the tower at Diocletian’s Palace. I loved that feeling of wind in my hair and looking down on all those bright red roofs. The Adriatic was impossibly blue and the clear blue sky meant the islands looked close enough to touch. In my university town of Durham, we climbed the tower at Durham Cathedral in our last week before graduating. Admittedly that time was less fun as it was an exhausting, claustrophobic climb and we had to leave quickly for fear of getting struck by lightning, but I am glad I did it anyway.
So we steeled our limbs, took the obligatory photo in the stairwell at the bottom, and started to climb.
Unlike Durham Cathedral, there was enough room for people to come down as well as up at the same time, apart from the fewer more narrow landings. These were used as a welcome excuse to prop ourselves against the wall and get our breath back. Great tip: be those annoying people who take photos on every staircase. It gives you a great chance to get your breath back.
The stairs felt much more sturdy than in Split. Although I was wearing the exact same pairs of shoes (Birkenstocks that were once white), I didn’t feel in fear of losing them as I did in in the Split tower. In Durham the stairs seemed as old as the Cathedral itself and wound in a tight coil, meaning people were unable to get past without a bit of rubbing up against each other (not nice). This meant you couldn’t look down a gap in the stair case and see just how far you had come, like in the Peterskirche. But then again I did have extremely panicky thoughts about how they’d get an ambulance crew up here if I had a heart attack.
The great thing about the Peterskirche was the chance for views on the way up, each one, giving you a bit more of a push to get to the top and really see what it was all about.
Was it worth the breathlessness and palpitations? Yes, it was. Just as the one in Split was worth the aching thigh muscles that made getting on and off high European trains for the rest of our InterRail trip unbearable. Just as the one in Durham was worth seeing our university town from high above after 3 years of exploring its streets on the ground.
The views over Munich were superb, and it didn’t take us long to forget our heavy breathing and enjoy the view. It was a cloudier day, so the Alps weren’t visible and the wind meant we all looked like Yetis with our hair in our faces. You could see just how low set the buildings in Munich were, which I loved as there were no ugly glass office complexes that you are so used to seeing in London. The view was a sea of red roofs and dark brick buildings jumbled up against each other in that way that lets you know instantly you are in Europe. It gave a great chance to watch people in the Marienplatz below, and watch the red roofs change colour at the sun dodged in and out of the clouds.
The climb back down was hard on the old thighs and knees. By the end, we were a bit wobbly legged, but smug with having made it without a cardiac arrest or crying.