Munich is the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria. It is located on the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg. About 1.5 million people live within the city limits. Munich was first mentioned in 1158. From 1255 the city was seat of the Bavarian Dukes, it was an imperial residence from 1328 and in 1506 became the sole capital of Bavaria. Munich was the host city of the 1972 Summer Olympics. Munich is home to many national and international authorities and major universities, major museums and theaters. Its numerous architectural attractions, international sports events, exhibitions and conferences and the Munich Oktoberfest combine to attract considerable tourism. The city’s motto is „München mag dich“ (Munich loves you).
Munich is a green city with numerous parks. The Englischer Garten, close to the city centre and covering an area of 3.7 km2 (1.4 sq mi) (larger than Central Park in New York), is one of the world’s largest urban public parks, and contains a nudist area, jogging tracks and bridle-paths. It was designed and laid out by Benjamin Thompson, Count of Rumford, for both pleasure and as a work area for the city’s vagrants and homeless. Nowadays it is entirely a park with a Biergarten at the Chinese Pagoda.
Other large green spaces are the modern Olympiapark, Westpark, and the parks of Nymphenburg Palace (with the Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg to the north), and Schleissheim Palace. The city’s oldest park is the Hofgarten, near the Residenz, and dating back to the 16th century. Best known for the largest beergarden in the town is the former royal Hirschgarten, founded in 1780 for deer which still live there.
The city’s zoo is the Tierpark Hellabrunn near the Flaucher Island in the Isar in the south of the city. Another notable park is Ostpark, located in Perlach-Ramersdorf area which houses the swimming area, Michaelibad, one of the largest in Munich.