A tour of Munich’s street art Artworks thriving in obscurity

Isar Fun I, Reichenbachbrücke pedestrian underpass
Isar Fun I, Reichenbachbrücke pedestrian underpass | Photo: Angela Gruber

Munich has a lively street art scene. But it doesn’t reveal itself to everyone, it wants you to go out and find it. A walking tour of the spots with the most beautiful and imaginative graffiti in town.

Gemütliche beer gardens and chic shopping streets: many visitors come to Munich with this image of the city in mind. The Bavarian state capital has a reputation for being a fancy-schmancy town. At first sight, street art just wouldn’t fit in here. Munich, unlike, say, Berlin, looks spruced up and somehow tidy.

And yet graffiti, which accounts for a great deal of street art, has a long-standing tradition in the city on the Isar River, as artist/author Martin Arz found whilst researching for his anthology of Street Art in Munich: “It’s bizarre that everyone talks only about Berlin and Hamburg nowadays seeing as the origins of the German graffiti movement lie in Munich. The city’s squeaky-clean image is a distorted picture of the place.”

It’s worth taking a close look around in Munich: keep your eyes peeled whilst walking through the city and you’ll discover some fantastic street art. The following is a walking tour of Munich’s street art showcasing ten of the best graffiti spots in town.

Alter Schlachthof

Corner of Tumblinger Straße and Ruppertstraße,
80337 Munich
48°7'23"N, 11°33'17"E
 
  • Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße
  • Stará jatka Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Stará jatka Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße
  • Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße
  • Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße
  • Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Alter Schlachthof, Tumblinger Straße/Ecke Ruppertstraße
The brick walls of the Old Slaughterhouse are several metres high – and one of the most well-known hotspots for Munich sprayers. The City allows them to use these walls for their artwork, so it’s all perfectly legal. At the weekend you’ll often find young artists hard at work here. Not a single inch of space goes unused, it’s spraypainted all over. Since the old wall is now in danger of collapsing, a wooden fence has been built around it. You can’t even guess at the original colour of the fence anymore because the artists have embellished it, too. And thanks to their large-scale approach, even the parking ticket machine in front of the fence hardly stands out at all from its colourful surroundings, it seems to blend into the background like a chameleon.

NB: This first stop of the tour is easy to reach on public transport. Get off at the underground station Poccistraße (Lines U3/U6).

Brudermühlbrücke

Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher, 81543 Munich
48°6'46"N, 11°33'39"E
 
  • Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher Foto: Angela Gruber
    Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher
  • Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher Foto: Angela Gruber
    Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher
  • Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher Fotografie: Angela Gruber
    Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher
  • Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher Foto: Angela Gruber
    Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher
  • Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher Fotografie: Angela Gruber
    Brudermühlbrücke, Flaucher
Northeast of Tumblinger Straße lies another mainstay of the Munich sprayer scene: Brudermühlbrücke. Once a year, the bridge is repainted by street artists with support from the city government. This is a golden opportunity for Munich’s leading sprayers, who have done some artistically sophisticated and highly aesthetic work here in the past. The artwork on the massive concrete pillars in the Isar riverbed is impressive even from a distance. But to explore the rich details, it’s worth your while to go down and get a closer look at this graffiti underneath the rumbling traffic on the bridge.

Trafohaus, Schyrenbad

Claude-Lorrain-Straße 24, 81543 Munich
48°7'11"N, 11°34'11"E
 
  • Trafohaus, Schyrenbad Foto: Angela Gruber
    Trafohaus, Schyrenbad
  • Trafohaus, Schyrenbad Foto: Angela Gruber
    Trafohaus, Schyrenbad
  • Trafohaus, Schyrenbad Foto: Angela Gruber
    Trafohaus, Schyrenbad
  • Trafohaus, Schyrenbad Foto: Angela Gruber
    Trafohaus, Schyrenbad
The City of Munich has commissioned street artists to decorate some public utility buildings. The transformer box in front of the entrance to the Schyrenbad pool is a particularly felicitous example of their work. The four artists involved clearly drew inspiration from the location in painting this Caribbean beach scene on the walls of the Trafohaus. “Just do it”, it says in pink lettering hovering above the shallow bay, but beware: danger lurks below. Splashing about in the turquoise blue water are all sorts of monsters, which could put a serious dent in your bathing bliss! Fortunately, right next door is the Schyrenbad – where the pool’s perfectly safe.

Cats

Schyrenstraße, 81543 Munich
48°7'16"N, 11°34'12"E
 
  • Katzen, Schyrenstraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Katzen, Schyrenstraße
  • Katzen, Schyrenstraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Katzen, Schyrenstraße
  • Katzen, Schyrenstraße Fotografie: Angela Gruber
    Katzen, Schyrenstraße
  • Katzen, Schyrenstraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Katzen, Schyrenstraße
Simple and ingenious: An outstanding example of stencil graffiti is to be found just a few yards away from the Trafohaus. Using a prepared stencil, an anonymous street artist painted black cats along the concrete wall – and then flung a white paint bomb at the space above the feline figures. So it looks as though the cats were stretching out to lap the white “milk” up off the ground. Since stencils can easily be reused a number of times, keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot the cat motif – along with plenty of other widespread stencils – at all sorts of different places in Munich.

Copy Paste

Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße, 80469 Munich
48°7'30"N, 11°34'16"E
 
  • Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße
  • Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße
  • Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße
  • Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße
  • Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße Foto: Angela Gruber
    Copy Paste, Wittelsbacherstraße, Höhe Klenzestraße
Is it a denunciation of academic plagiarism? Or an ironic take on the artist’s own work? On the west bank of the Isar River, between the Reichenbach and Wittelsbacher bridges, you’ll find another intriguing stencil. The tag here reads “Copy Paste”, and what makes it really effective is its perfect placement right over the lower section of the wall and the series of identically stencilled “Copy Paste” tags that follow. This stencil seems to have attracted other sprayers to the wall, who run riot above it – with some pretty uninspired tags and scribble-scrabble. Not every sprayed word is street art.

Isar Fun I

Reichenbachbrücke pedestrian underpass,
west side of bridge, 80469 Munich
48°7'40"N, 11°34'36"E
 
  • Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke
  • Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke
  • Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke
  • Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke
  • Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß I, Fußgängerunterführung Reichenbachbrücke
The subject of the street art on the walls of this subway is the Isar River, a popular place for the denizens of Munich to hang out in their free time. You see a very laid-back-looking dude, dressed in casual rags, surfing the waves of the river on a beer crate with a beer bottle in his hand. Of course a sausage grill is a must, too (barbecues are allowed on the banks of the Isar, unlike many a park in Munich). Faced with that all-too-casual scene, there’s nothing for the elderly gentleman on the opposite wall to do but adjust his Tyrolean hat with its Gamsbart (a decorative tuft of chamois hair), pluck his Dachshund up off the ground into the security of his arm and be gone.

Bavarian Lion

Ludwigsbrücke pedestrian underpass, east side,
81667 Munich
48°7'54"N, 11°35'15"E
 
  • Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke
  • Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke
  • Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke
  • Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke
  • Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Bayerischer Löwe, Fußgängerunterführung Ludwigsbrücke
One graffito under the Ludwigsbrücke has a close tie to the city of Munich. It shows the Bavarian Lion ridden by a “Münchner Kindl“ – i.e. the “Munich child” that appears on the city’s coat of arms. The child is holding a tankard of beer in its hand as though it were coming straight from the Oktoberfest. The mural is by the Munich artist Loomit, who has been a leading light in the scene for decades and has garnered international renown. All the same, many people just walk right by the painting without taking a closer look. That may have something to do with the location: it runs right across the vaulted ceiling in the midsection – the least visible part – of the underpass. Works by the Brazilian twins Os Gemeos can also be viewed in the underpass.

Isar Fun II

Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle, 81667 Munich
48°7'60"N, 11°35'23"E
 
  • Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle
  • Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle
  • Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle
  • Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle
  • Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle Foto: Angela Gruber
    Isarspaß II, Zellstraße, Isarinsel/Muffathalle
There are some colourful potato-shaped fantasy characters romping about on the walls of the Muffathalle. Water again looms large in the choice of motif here: two figures relaxing on a drifting raft, clinking beer mugs as others take a dip. Another figure is masterfully placed so as to incorporate the site into the graffito itself: the creature is sleeping on its back, lying as it were on the upper edge of a recess in the wall. In addition to the jovial potato people, there’s some elaborate sprayed graffiti writing on the wall as well.

Angel of Peace

Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke pedestrian underpass,
80538 Munich
48°8'29"N, 11°35'49"E
 
  • Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke
  • Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke
  • Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke
  • Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke
  • Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke Foto: Angela Gruber
    Friedensengel, Unterführung Prinzregentenstraße/Luitpoldbrücke
The Friedensengel, or Angel of Peace, is a much-photographed sight in Munich. But after gazing up at the monument, which overlooks the city from a height of 38 metres, check out the pedestrian underpass underneath, which is adorned with fanciful graffiti by various artists, including Loomit, Flin und Flying Förtress. Vertical fluorescent tubes divide the walls up into four square sections, each of which is differently painted. It almost feels like walking through a gallery as you stroll past the pictures framed by the fluorescent lights. Naturally, given the location, some sprayers have felt the urge to come up with their own street art versions of the Peace Angel – some more faithful to the original and some more off the wall.

NB: You can take the bus (Line 100) to Station 10. Get on at Reitmorstraße on the west side of the Friedensengel and get off at Ostbahnhof.

Kultfabrik grounds

Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof, 81671 Munich
48°7'26"N, 11°36'27"E
 
  • Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof Foto: Angela Gruber
    Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof
  • Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof Foto: Angela Gruber
    Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof
  • Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof Foto: Angela Gruber
    Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof
  • Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof Foto: Angela Gruber
    Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof
  • Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof Foto: Angela Gruber
    Kultfabrik-Gelände, Grafinger Straße, Ostbahnhof
If all the partiers revelling at the Kultfabrik by night had any idea what they’re missing in the dark! The grounds here, right next to the Ostbahnhof, are home to a number of clubs – and ubiquitous graffiti. There are even some spray cans lying around on the ground in front of some of the artworks. One of the most impressive is a figure several metres high by Os Gemeos, twin brothers from São Paulo, Brazil, which takes up the entire rear wall of one of the buildings. The motif blends in with the colour of the backdrop and fits right in with the surroundings. Its location and sheer dimensions (as well as perhaps its masterful execution) have kept it thus far from being painted over.

NB: This is the last stop on our Munich graffiti tour. Street art is ephemeral and always risks being painted over or removed. So when you take this tour you might no longer be able to see everything shown in the photos – then again, you might see much more! After all, there’s street art to be discovered all over Munich, including graffiti writing, murals, stencils and stickers. So if you walk about town with your eyes peeled, you’re bound to spot plenty of street art in Munich.