The city's name comes from the German word munichen or 'monk settlement', for it was Benedictine friars who first settled in the valley of the Isar River in the 8th Century. Since that time, Munich has grown into the third-largest German city with a population of 1.2 million. Munich's history is full of twists and turns, reflecting the complicated past of the German territories. A ducal residence at first, Munich became a fully-fledged capital of Bavaria in 1503, only 14 years before Martin Luther's Reformation began in Germany. Munich, as well as the whole Duchy of Bavaria, remained one of the main strongholds against Reformation, sticking to its Catholic traditions.
At the turn of the 18th and 19th Centuries, Munich enjoyed a status of the capital city of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Its first king, Max Joseph, started the tradition of Oktoberfest in 1810, though one must admit that the festival has ventured far away from its royal origins.
The city flourished throughout the 19th Century, the well-preserved architecture from that period being one of its most recommended sightseeing points. The reign of Bavaria's last king, Ludwig II, proved a swan song for the kingdom, though not for the city itself. As Munich and Bavaria became part of the freshly unified German state in 1871, the city quickly embraced the new and lively cultural trends that pervaded across Europe at the time, and was home to great writers like Mann and Ibsen, and artists such as Kandinsky and Klee.
But Munich was also where Adolph Hitler rose to fame in the 1920s, and where Europe succumbed when Britain's Neville Chamberlain signed the infamous Munich Treaty, sealing the fate of Czechoslovakia and opening the gates to Hitler's further invasions.
After the war, Munich swiftly recovered from the heavy damage inflicted upon it by the Allied forces. It now stands up to par with the cultural traditions of Mann and Kandinsky, and is one of Germany's hubs for industry, culture, entertainment, and sports. Bayern Munich is the sporting symbol of not only the city but to many, of Germany as a whole. In 1972, a memorable year was had here for the Olympic Games, for a variety of reasons, including non-sporting ones.