King Maximilian II, like his father King Ludwig I, contributed to the expansion of Munich. Maximilian chose a different direction for the street named after him, which runs eastward from the center of town and continues across the Isar – Perhaps in keeping with the 19th century trend of a return to nature. At the end of Maximilianstrasse stands the imposing Maximilianeum. Built as a home for the best students of Bavaria, the Maximilianeum was donated by Maximilian. The home still exists, and is supported today by the rent collected from the Bavarian Parliament and Senate, which have had their chambers there since 1949. According to royal decree, only boys were admitted to the Maximilianeum until 1980, at which time the Wittelsbach family created an additional foundation for girls. This was the Wittelsbachs’ gift to Bavaria in commemoration of the family’s 800th anniversary (1180-1980),as a positive contribution to the year of the Woman (1980). A statue depicts the creative King Maximilian, who said, Had I not been born in the royal cradle, I would have become a scientist. He attracted many learned people to Munich, and was the head of an intellectual circle which included philosophers, potes and scientists. Among the other buildings lining Maximilian-strasse is the Museum of Ethnology, which displays collections from Far Eastern and Latin American cultures.
Across the street is the Upper Bavarian Government building, which looks like a section from a Gothic cathedral, with arcades, triforium and clerestory. The exterior design conceals a contrasting interior; the tall windows bring light to two shallow stories, a style that was criticized at the time it was built but is now appreciated as an historical remnant. The entire street has now been put under protection, and it is therefore prohibited to change the frame of any building along its length.
The business section of Maximilianstrasse is one of the most elegant shopping areas in town. At shops featuring international designers you may buy tomorrow’s fashion, but not at yesterday’s prices. Theaters, art galleries, hotels and restaurants with au international flair all help make the Maximilianmstrasse a most attractive part of Munich.