Michael Portillo explores Bohemia and Bavaria, sampling the sulphurous waters of Marianske Lazne and riding a piece of German railway history made in Britain.
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'I'm embarking on a new railway adventure that will take me
'across the heart of Europe.'
I'll be using this - my Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide,
dated 1913, which opened up an exotic world of foreign
travel for the British tourist.
'It told travellers where to go, what to see and how to navigate
'the thousands of miles of tracks criss-crossing the Continent.
'Now, a century later,
'I'm using my copy to reveal an era of great optimism and energy,
'where technology, industry, science and the arts were flourishing.'
I want to rediscover that lost Europe that, in 1913, couldn't know
that its way of life would shortly be swept aside by the advent of war.
I'm in the Czech Republic,
but my 1913 Bradshaw's guide lists my first stop, Prague, under Austria
and then tells me that it's the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia.
This trip will take me through two former kingdoms, Bohemia
But even by 1913, each had been absorbed into a Reich -
the German word for Empire.
'On this journey,
'I marvel at Prague's stunning Art Nouveau architecture,...'
Well, this is really glorious on such a scale.
'..attempt a Latin dance with a Bohemian twist,...'
Don't look at her.
She's MY wife!
NOW you tell me!
'..take a peat bath fit for a British king,...'
-It looks filthy! I get in there?
'..hear of Britain's influence on German railway history...
Where did the original locomotive come from?
Stephenson Locomotive Works, Newcastle upon Tyne.
So, it was Mr George Stephenson?
It was George Stephenson, yes.
'..and take on the toughest opponent of my career.'
If you're having trouble with a dragon, call a dragon slayer.
This leg of my 1913 European adventure
begins in Bohemian Prague,
stops for a noble spa break at Marianske Lazne,
takes on imperial armaments in Pilsen before crossing
the German border into firebreathing Bavaria to visit
the birthplace of the German railway, Nuremberg,...
..alighting finally in the region's scientifically superior capital,
Bradshaw's tells me that "in Prague, German is generally understood,
"but the current language is Bohemian."
Bohemian - there's a word to conjure with!
The Oxford English Dictionary reminds me that it
came to mean "one who leads a vagabond or irregular life,
"not being particular about the company he keeps
"and despising conventionalities generally." Bohemia
sounds like the perfect place for a man in a luminous pink jacket.
'The year after my 1913 guidebook was written,
'the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne,
'Archduke Franz Ferdinand, set the world on the path to war.
'But on the Empire's western tip in Bohemia,
'the decades leading up to that conflict were filled with
'the affluent, carefree spirit
'which spilled out of Le Gay Paris's Belle Epoque,
'and Prague, capital of the Czech lands,
'became renowned for its culture, art and architecture.'
The British traveller, arriving here in 1913, would have been
treated to this glorious new roof, completed just in 1906.
The station was named Franz Joseph after the Austrian Emperor.
The traveller, in 1913, could have had little idea that both
the Emperor and, indeed, the Empire were about to become history.
Situated either side of the Vltava River, Prague's famous
10th century Old Town has long been a draw to European travellers.
In 1913, the city of 100 spires was a cultural melting pot,
home to three main ethnic groups - Czechs, Germans and Jews.
Bradshaw's tells me that from the Franz Joseph Station,
the broad Wenzelsplatz, or Wenceslas Square, leads north-west.
This beautiful elongated square, more of a boulevard, really,
is where my tour of Prague begins.
'The city is festooned with the natural lines,
'whiplash curves and vibrant details of Art Nouveau,
'the artistic movement that used nature as its inspiration.
'Heavily influenced by Britain's Arts and Crafts school,
'Art Nouveau swept through late 19th and early 20th century Europe.
'Its best-known Czech exponent was Alphonse Mucha,
'whose exceptional work adorns the Municipal House opened in 1912,
'where I'm meeting my guide, Iva Karlickova.'
What are the elements of Art Nouveau?
It was about shapes and forms and the natural motifs, especially colours.
Like here, around the walls, for example, you see this is
typical Art Nouveau - these little motifs with the stucco.
But it was not only about architecture.
It was about jewellery, pieces of furniture, cutlery, fabrics.
What started Art Nouveau in Prague?
Well, the beginning, actually, was the year 1891 when they organised
a Jubilee exposition for the Kingdom of Bohemia.
Thank you very much.
-Tell me about this beautiful building that we're in here.
So the Municipal House in Prague was finished 1912
and it was built for the Czech people because at that period,
we were living in Prague in three ethnical groups - Czechs,
Germans and Jews.
And another very important thing, our national independence,
the new Czechoslovak Republic
was proclaimed from this building on 28 October, 1918.
'The Municipal House boasts an enormous
'and pleasingly flamboyant Art Nouveau concert hall named
'after Czech composer and nationalist Bedrich Smetana,
'who died in 1884.'
Well, this is really glorious on such a scale.
-Such attention to detail. So elaborate.
-It is fantastic, yes.
And the Mayor's Hall, decorated by Alphonse Mucha,
is just as eye-catching.
'Mucha had lived in Paris, creating posters for actress
'Sarah Bernhardt and designing Georges Fouquet's celebrated
'Art Nouveau jewellery shop before returning to Prague,
'where his artistry lives on...'
'..in the work of his granddaughter, Jarmila.'
Now, your grandfather was a painter, a designer, a jewellery maker,
-all sorts of things. How many of those things do you do?
I have many, many products - jewellery, glass,
-metal pieces, scarf of silk.
-Very, very beautiful.
-And are you, by any chance, a member of the family?
It's my daughter, Kathryn.
Do you think Art Nouveau is of interest again?
-Is it back in fashion?
-Now, there is an explosion of interest.
You can find Mucha beer mats and key rings and all sorts of things.
How do you think he'd feel about that?
I think he would approve of his art reaching as many people as possible
and...because that's what he wanted all his life,
to make his work accessible to everyone.
I'm using a guidebook 100 years old,
so somebody using this guidebook a century ago could have come
and seen the work of Alphonse Mucha
and now, 100 years later, we can see the work of Jarmila Mucha.
In a city where the beauty of art is so appreciated,
I feel moved to commission a work for myself.
-I like your art. I see you do caricatures.
-Yes, I could do you like it.
-Could you do me?
-Yes, no problem, no problem.
-Big nose, big lips.
Yes, you're very beautiful. OK.
Yes, OK, finish, finish. For you.
-Thank you, thank you.
-Beautiful, for you.
-It's very good.
Prague for you.
In 1900, Prague's population consisted of
just over 400,000 Czechs,
10,000 Germans and 25,000 Jews.
Their 13th century ancestors
had been forced to live in a ghetto near the Old Town.
Here, some of the oldest relics of European Jewry
can still be seen today.
Bradshaw's has brought me to the Josefstadt, the Jews' quarter,
"where much that was squalid has been demolished for improvements".
And this building here is rightly referred to in Bradshaw's
as "the sombre-looking Alt Neu Shul, an old synagogue dating from 1338".
Clearly the Jewish population of Prague was long-established,
as well as being numerous and very important in the city's history.
Jews first settled in Prague in the 10th century and despite
repeated persecutions, a community survives today with a rich heritage.
Two names, separated by centuries, stand out.
The first, a late 16th century rabbi named Judah Loew,
who was a renowned religious scholar,
feted by Bohemian royalty for his knowledge of astronomy
and Jewish mysticism.
The second, born in 1883, was an author.
By the time of my Bradshaw's guide,
Prague's Jewish quarter produced one of the most influential
writers in Europe - Franz Kafka,
who gave his name to the word Kafkaesque,
a nightmarish situation in which a man struggles helplessly,
for example, against the idiocies of bureaucracy
and is commemorated here by a statue that look likes a bad dream.
For centuries, the influences on Prague,
capital of the Czech lands, yet ruled
by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were Bohemian, Jewish and Germanic.
But by 1913, the city's architecture and artists
were also following trends from the French capital Paris,
and nowhere more than at the Cafe Montmartre.
As the day draws to a close,
I'm going to wet my whistle at a place which,
since its opening in 1912, became the haunt of artists
and writers of the Bohemian crowd,
but sometimes above the sound
of the scratching of the authors' nib on paper,
could be heard a more insistent Latin beat.
'Cafe Montmartre had gained a Bohemian reputation.
'To understand why, I'm meeting British expat Richard Drury
'and locals Marek and Radka.'
If I'd come here in 1913, searching for celebrities,
who might I have come across?
You would have met possibly on your travels
a small, unassuming-looking man,
compact, thoughtful, dark-eyed
and he was called Franz Kafka.
-Kafka came here.
This place was a meeting point for all members
of this incredible polemical Prague society.
They would come to this cafe and enjoy their differences.
-By the way, what is this you've so kindly bought me?
Well, cheers. Will I write and paint better after one of these?
We can't guarantee that, but you'll be all the merrier for it.
Oh, that is lovely.
So I come to this place in 1913, I order myself a Becherovka,
I'm sitting next to Franz Kafka, I look around, what else do I see?
By October 1913, word had got round in Prague
that a very, very sinful activity was going on here
and other cafes and restaurants banned it.
They said, "We are not going to do that."
TANGO MUSIC PLAYS
The very sinful activity was, of course, the tango -
a raunchy, Argentine dance which took Paris by storm in 1912
and Prague the year after.
The tango originated in booming 19th century Buenos Aires,
but theories vary as to how and why.
Some say the city's busy prostitutes danced it
with their clients, others that men awaiting boudoir bookings,
made use of the live music entertainment
and danced it with each other.
Rather than banning it, Cafe Montmartre embraced the first
improvised dance for couples that Europe had ever known.
Er, I don't know how to tango and, in fact, I can't dance,
so can you show me a few basic steps, please?
Basic step is just you walk and then what you do
-is to move your body forward and then you walk.
-Yes, you can do less, not that much.
-Rule number one, never step on her feet, never.
-Are you the woman for these purposes?
-You want me as a woman?
-We have Radka here, take Radka.
-OK, Radka, please.
Don't look at her.
-She's my wife.
-Now you tell me!
Don't be afraid, go through, move through. Relax, relax, yeah.
-Don't think you're dancing, just walk. You can do it, no?
but would you mind showing me how it's done properly,
the two of you, please?
TANGO MUSIC PLAYS
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
I'm leaving Prague and heading west through Bohemia.
As in Britain,
the first Czech railways, built in the 19th century,
were owned by private companies, but by the time of my 1913 guidebook,
most lines in the Austro-Hungarian Empire
were owned by state companies.
My next stop is Marianske Lazne, better known to us
perhaps by its German name, Marienbad.
Bradshaw's tells me it's a pleasant watering place.
"The waters are successfully used in cases of heart disease, gout,
"arteriosclerosis, disordered stomach, liver and digestive organs
"and are often recommended as part of special treatment for ladies."
Marienbad became the king of spas and indeed the spa of kings.
At the end of the 18th century, a doctor from the local monastery
had researched the curative properties of Marianske Lazne H2O
and founded the spa.
By 1823, the valley had been transformed into a beautiful
In the 1870s, the railways arrived, bringing swathes of new
middle-class visitors to join the many luminaries already
seeking cures and recreation at the magnificently appointed resort.
Oh! Smells completely of sulphur, rotten eggs.
I literally do this.
It may have smelt bad but it tastes simply disgusting!
I'm sure that does amazing things from inside.
I think I'll pour the rest away.
To continue my health treatment, I'm visiting Nove Lazne,
one of the most luxurious spa hotels available to travellers
in the era of my guidebook.
I'm intrigued that during the sabre-rattling
years of the early 20th century,
the city was frequented by European royalty,
including Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef I,
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and British King Edward VII.
'Perhaps international diplomacy was conducted here
'by monarchs in bathrobes.'
Thank you very much.
'Historian Dr Peter Sobel knows more.'
Peter, my goodness. This is the most beautiful thing.
It's called the Roman Bath and it comes from the heyday of the town.
-When was the heyday? For example, in 1913, was that the heyday?
it was just finishing, I would say.
We used to have lots of Russian nobility, German nobility,
-And what is this extraordinary thing here?
It's the CO2 bath.
-Please, be careful when you move in it, not to stir the gas.
'Not a gas to be trifled with, carbon dioxide can cause headaches,
'dizziness, confusion and loss of consciousness
'if it is inhaled in high concentration.
'But this bath is said to improve lower limb circulation.
'I wonder how the spa clients knew in 1913 which treatment was
'right for them?'
We'll sit down nice and gently.
So what was the procedure? How did you get prescribed?
-Did you begin by going to see a doctor?
-You would first go to the doctor
and he would prescribe what should you do for the next three weeks.
Also, at that time,
it was very popular to treat yourself for obesity
and Edward VII came nine times in 12 years to get rid of his obesity.
The spa was used for treatment but also for political discussions.
For instance, he discussed the Russian-Japanese War of 1905 with
the American ambassador,
so this is just an example of what was happening here at that time.
The British king often stopped off on his way Marianske Lazne,
then known as Marienbad,
to visit his nephew, German Kaiser Wilhelm II.
He would stay at the resort for three weeks at a time.
The Uncle of Europe, as he was known,
underwent X-ray treatment for a facial ulcer, which was unsuccessful,
and also grappled with the problem which weighed most heavily upon him.
By sitting in this chair, the weight-conscious
British King Edward VII learnt the worst expressed in pounds or kilos.
And here, he took his bath.
But I'm afraid that his royal grandeur
and body politic might have caused the waters to overflow.
Marianske Lazne has been a gas so far,
but I'm told what is to come is muddy marvellous.
-Er, what is this?
-You will take bath.
-You're going to put that in there?
I might as well wallow in a Scottish bog. It looks filthy!
-I get in there?
# Mud, mud Glorious mud
# Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. #
I'm not usually one to wallow,
but it's time for another encounter with the brown stuff.
Nice and warm actually.
I feel as though I am being creosoted like an old garden fence.
-Ooh, that sinking feeling.
If heads of state were conducting political business in Bohemian spas,
on this new day, I want to discover what drove the economy here in 1913.
And to find out, I'm heading 50 miles south-east.
My next stop is Pilsen, which Bradshaw's tells me,
"is on the River Radbusa, near the Bohemian frontier."
It's a town I have always associated with Pilsner beer,
but I believe it is also connected to industries much less frothy.
Founded in 1295 on the crossroads of important north-south
and east-west trade routes, Pilsen grew quickly.
After being damaged by a fire in the 16th century,
the city's heart was rebuilt by Italian architects.
But modern Pilsen was shaped by the Industrial Revolution
and a tempestuous 20th century.
It's interesting coming to Pilsen
because in Prague you feel now as if you are in western Europe
and in Marienbad it is kind of the smell of fresh paint everywhere,
but Pilsen is a little bit earthier, a little bit shabbier, a little bit
reminiscent of that eastern Europe before the fall of the Iron Curtain.
I am in Pilsen to visit one of the best-known Czech companies.
In 1866, an ambitious 27-year-old named Emil Skoda
became the chief engineer of the Valdstejn ironworks.
Three years later, Skoda bought the company and set about building
one of Europe's greatest industrial complexes.
In 1886, Emil ensured that the Skoda works had access to
trains by building his own railway connection to the mainline.
In Britain, we know Skoda as a car-maker.
I want to know what the company did as the continent
teetered on the brink of the First World War.
Milan Tramik recently co-wrote the company's history.
At the beginning of the 20th century,
how important was this business?
It was one of the most important industrial companies inside the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
What were his original products?
Original products has been cast iron items, machinery, components.
I think I came on the railway along there into Pilsen.
How important was the railway to establishing the business here?
It was one of the most important factors.
In the 19th century, you had no highways so the only
possible way to get coal here
and other items like iron ore has been railways.
Skoda also delivered goods by train
and by the turn of the 20th century, that included freighting
high volumes of armaments to the Austro-Hungarian military.
After the defeat of the Empire in the Great War, the company
needed a peace time product and turned to building locomotives.
In 1925, the company acquired a car manufacturer, which produces
the cars that we know.
After the Second World War, the firm was divided
and this company now produces state-of-the-art vehicles
which run not on roads but on tracks.
Beautiful, new locomotive. The most modern electronics.
200 kilometres is the maximum speed.
How fast can I go on this test track?
Right here, we will go, at best, 40 kilometres per hour.
So, how do I start?
You have to release the brakes. Now please activate the whistle.
Whoa! Locomotive goes off so quickly.
It really has fantastic acceleration, doesn't it?
This track seems awfully short
and I appear to be approaching a tram at rather high speed.
I'm glad you're here, Milan.
Time to put the brake on my day.
I could spend my spare hour contemplating the enormous
achievements of Emil Skoda but, like most travellers,
I sometimes need to recharge.
I'm very interested in the history of trains, but let's face it,
a locomotive is not an item
that most of us buy even once in our lives.
By contrast with the other famous product from Pilsen.
This train will deliver me
to the next destination of my 1913 adventure.
A clue to its location is that this diesel locomotive is not
manufactured by Skoda but by Siemens.
I'll soon be crossing the border into Germany.
Historically, the frontier between Bavaria and Bohemia
has been one of the thick lines on the map.
Before World War I,
it divided the German Empire from that of Austria-Hungary.
After World War I, Germany was on one side
and Czechoslovakia on the other.
After World War II, it formed part of the Iron Curtain
with capitalism on one side and communism on the other.
My journey has taken me across the Czech border into Bavaria,
a land of legend and romanticism.
I'll then discover railway history in Nuremberg
and finally explore how Munich developed
from high culture to hi tech.
GUARD SPEAKS CZECH/GERMAN
I've alighted at Furth im Wald, a village of about 10,000 people
with a small station, but line after line of sidings,
which, I suppose, tells us something about, historically,
the geographical, strategic and political importance of that border.
Furth im Wald in Eastern Bavaria
sits just a couple of miles from the Czech border.
Because of its perilous geography, I hear
that its people are worried about invasion from the East,
a fear that assumes a monstrous form in their nightmares.
I never saw a place more festooned with images of dragons.
There must be something that lies behind this village's obsession
with scaly, fire-breathing creatures.
-I notice everywhere in the village there are dragons.
Why are so many dragons?
This is the only town in the world, we have a dragon.
-Drachenstich. Don't you know it?
-While so many dragons in Furth im Wald?
-It's our history.
-The dragon is in the hall.
-The dragon's in the hall?
In the hall.
Every year in August, there is a big festival here in the town
with a knight and a dragon and a princess.
Does your dog like dragons?
No, no, no, no.
Who plays the dragon? Who is the dragon?
-No, we really have a dragon.
-You really have a dragon?
I'm on a quest to meet this mythical creature
and local teacher Josef Kraus has agreed to tell me
what Drachenstich, Furth im Wald's annual festival, is all about.
There has always been a big rivalry between the East and the West.
The East is represented by the Bohemians and the west,
in this case, by Bavaria.
So it's the fight between the good and the evil
and the evil is represented by the dragon that comes from the East.
What do you use for a dragon?
I mean, you don't have a real dragon, do you?
Well, we've built an enormous monster.
-I'd love to see that!
From Europe to China to India,
dragons have a place in folklore around the world.
Furth im Wald's story is founded on the legend of St George
and every year since the 16th century,
thousands of people have visited to see its dragon.
Its latest incarnation
is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records
as the largest four-legged walking machine on the planet.
That is absolutely superb! I have never seen such an enormous dragon!
Look at those enormous jaws and teeth!
I thought it was looking at me there.
Absolutely brilliant monster.
Smoke, fire, swivelling eyes, massive jaws and teeth.
Everything you could possibly want in a dragon.
Sandro Bauer is one of the dragon's creators.
He handles one of its remote controls.
And he is the town's mayor.
I'm just so impressed by your dragon. It is huge!
What are its statistics?
It has dimensions of 60 metres in the length,
four metres by more than five metres in the height
and it has a wingspan wide of more than 12 metres
and a weight of 11 tonnes.
-What does it cost to get a dragon like that?
-Well, that's a secret.
-Who fights the dragon?
-We have a knight.
Every year we have a new knight, a new young man
and it's a big carnival for the young man to be the knight.
May I cast you?
I thought you wanted a young man!
If you're having trouble with a dragon, call a dragon slayer.
En garde, dragon!
'I've taken on a number of big beasts over the years,
'but none as fiery as this.'
-I think I've killed him, by george!
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Thanks, Michael, you made him dead. For next year, we will let you know.
Yesterday I battled a fibreglass dragon.
Today I'm riding another iron horse.
My next stop will be Nuremberg, Nurnberg in German.
My guidebook tells me that it's on the River Pegnitz.
"The most striking and interesting of medieval towns,
"it's now the most important
"manufacturing and commercial town of South Germany."
I'm thinking that the railways must have played an important part
in that industrialisation.
Remembered now for Adolf Hitler's rallies
and the war crimes trials after the Second World War,
the once independent imperial city of Nuremberg was at the peak
of its economic power in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
Travellers came here in 1913
to admire the impressive medieval old town.
Bradshaw's comments that "within the walls of Nuremberg there is
"hardly a street that isn't an object of beauty and interest
"so that the town may be justly regarded
"as a great museum of medieval art."
Unfortunately, most of it was destroyed
during the Second World War,
but an alleyway like this gives us a hint of the charm that was lost.
Nuremberg became part of Bavaria in 1806.
Three decades later, this impressive medieval town made German history.
The country's first steam locomotive service
ran on the four-mile Ludwigs Bahn Line
between Nuremberg and the city of Furth.
In 1935, to celebrate the railway's centenary,
this replica of its original locomotive,
the Adler or Eagle, was built.
Still running, it's reminiscent of George Stephenson's Rocket
and I'm hoping that
the curator of the city's transport museum knows why.
Where did the original locomotive come from?
The original locomotive came from the Stephenson Locomotive Works
-in Newcastle upon Tyne.
-That was Mr George Stephenson?
It was George Stephenson.
And how on earth did you get a locomotive
from Britain to Nuremberg in those days?
Packed in 17 boxes and transported on a ship
and then on a river barge to Cologne
where the River Rhine was so low that they had to load it out
and bring on a wagon on the street to Nuremberg.
And who knew how to put it all together?
Mr George Stephenson sent a mechanic, Mr William Wilson,
and he set together all the parts of the locomotive.
OK, would you want to fill the firebox now?
It would be my privilege.
-It's tough being a fireman, you know.
-You do it very good.
It really is extraordinarily hot in there, glowing coals.
What happened to Wilson after that?
He became the locomotive driver, a very famous citizen
and people only used the train
when Mr Wilson was standing on this place on the locomotive.
He made the success of the Ludwig's Railway in the first 20 years.
It's fascinating that George Stephenson,
one of the heroes of Britain's early railway history,
played such an important role in Bavaria's too.
Stepping now onto one of Germany's modern ICE trains,
I'm struck by how dramatically rail travel
and passenger expectations have changed since the 1830s.
German doctors feared that when the trains were first introduced,
the high speed would drive people mad.
Well, this is the Inter City Express
and the newest variant travels at up to 200 miles per hour
and I'm still feeling relatively sane.
My next stop is Munich,
transformed in the 19th century by Bavarian King Ludwig I
into a neoclassical gem and a cultural heartland.
Much has changed since then,
but I'm determined to find out what remains
of King Ludwig's appreciation of the finer things in life.
Munich station is big and bold and new and full of food outlets.
You don't get any sense of history here,
except perhaps the size, because this was, after all,
a station fit for the capital of Bavaria.
If Munich's older buildings
are a clue to the city's innate grandeur...
..the Town Hall confirms its early 20th century confidence.
Bradshaw's tells me that this is the Neues Rathaus, the New Town Hall.
Indeed, it's neo-Gothic.
It had been opened shortly before my Bradshaw's guide was written.
It talks of a city that is wealthy and wants to show off,
but with all the little figures on the outside,
this architecture is also fun.
And just around the corner from the Marienplatz
is the fun part of town.
Viktualienmarkt has been Munich's central food market since 1807
and is also home to its 800-seat beer garden,
a very popular destination for both tourists and locals.
-So, are these your beers?
-This is all mine.
Do you come here every day and fill the fountain with beer?
-Every day, that's correct, yes.
-He says this is the Munich life.
How did you bring them here?
-Let me see that.
-With this trolley, with this trolley.
-That's your beer suitcase, yes?
-That is my beer suitcase.
-You enjoy it.
-You may be here a while, I think.
Steered by an advertisement in my guidebook, I've chosen to
stay at the Bayerischer Hof, one of Munich's oldest hotels.
Rebuilt in painstaking detail after the Second World War,
the hotel first opened in 1841
and I hear that it has a connection to King Ludwig I.
-Good evening, Ingrid.
-How lovely to see you.
'The current owner is Ingrid Volkhardt.' Thank you very much.
Tell me, why was the hotel built in the first place?
The story is that King Ludwig actually asked the hotel to be built
in order for his guests to have a home
and once in the week they say he had his personal bath in the hotel
because the hotel was the first place in Munich to have bathtubs.
Apart from King Ludwig,
you must have had many distinguished guests over the years?
One of the really great people staying in the hotel was Franz Kafka,
who really is my personal favourite author
and also people of politics, church, show business.
A place full of celebrities. I'll see if I can fit in.
On my last day in Bavaria, I'm hoping to discover
what made this royal city tick, both culturally and scientifically,
on the eve of the Great War.
What was life like here in 1913?
At the time of my guidebook, no visit to Munich was complete
without sampling the Weisswurst, or white sausage.
Sepp Kraetz has invited me to his restaurant
to sample the boiled Bavarian banger.
-Hello, Michael. Nice to see you.
-Very nice to see you, sir.
So, I've come to try your... Thank you. ..your famous white sausage.
That's a good idea. A very good idea. Waitress.
-Please, bring us very hot white sausages.
-That doesn't look like a sausage to me!
-Oh. Looks good, huh?
-It looks very good indeed.
Now, excuse me, we're sitting here in the morning
with sausage and beer, is this normal?!
Yeah, we say in Germany or in Bavaria, it's a second breakfast.
-To my second breakfast!
Weisswurst, first created from veal and pork
by a Bavarian butcher in 1857,
is encased in a skin.
And I'm told that there's a skill to extracting the succulent filling.
Now, sir, how do I eat my sausage?
The first one is you cut like a piece of... Mouthful, and then you do this.
-So, I pin down the skin...
-Like the doctor.
-Oh, look, and rotate...
-..the flesh of the sausage out of the skin.
Oh, that's a very good method.
-Always you have to drink between the sausage and the pretzel
-the weiss beer.
-I could get used to this, I think.
OK, in the old time,
the people ate the white sausage from the hand in the mouth.
I'll show you. A little bit...
-It's called "zuzeln".
So, I dip in the mustard...
I put it in the mouth...
I squeeze my lips together...
..and the sausage pops into my mouth leaving the skin behind.
-Works good, huh?
-It works really well.
For the first time you do very well.
-You've taught me lots of interesting things today.
Bradshaw's tells me that modern Munich is especially identified
with progress in German art
and then lists a very large number of galleries,
so the time has come for me to have a brush
with the artistic scene of the early 20th century.
Whilst much of Europe was awash with Art Nouveau,
in 1912, Bavarian-based artists Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky
edited an almanac of art and essays which became one of the most
influential art books of the 20th century,
Der Blaue Reiter, or Blue Rider.
The book introduced a sceptical world
to a group of German-Jewish and Russian artists
who, rather than simply portray their subjects,
used colour to express their feelings.
They were amongst the first Expressionists.
Annegret Hoberg curates the Blue Rider collection
at Munich's Lenbachhaus gallery.
Here now we are in the large room of August Macke and Franz Marc.
One of the main pieces of this artist, of Marc, is, of course, his Blue Horse.
The Blue Horse one.
Now, yes, indeed, I recognise this painting.
Why has this become the icon of the movement?
Because it's a kind of symbol. The horse is blue.
This was the colour of the spirit for Kandinsky and for Franz Marc.
The blue was the symbol of spirit.
But it's also the posture of the horse.
It's standing there like an human being.
It symbolises a kind of spiritualisation of art
via the motif of the animal.
Moscow-born Wassily Kandinsky, trained in music,
is renowned for approaching his use of colour
with a musician's sensibility.
In 1909, the artist who lived in the Bavarian village of Murnau
painted what Annegret thinks might turn out to be
my favourite Blue Rider piece.
I'm delighted to see that Kandinsky painted a train.
-Why did he do that?
-Because it ran beneath his house in Murnau
and it was, of course, important for him in a way
because he went between Munich and Murnau by train,
so the train was an element of their daily life.
And what happened to the artists of the Blue Rider movement?
That's an important question
because when the World War first broke out,
August Macke, who was only 26 years old,
he was one of the first who were killed in September 1914
and Franz Marc was killed in Verdun in March 1916.
So this very, very brilliant movement that arose in Munich
at the beginning of the 20th century was very short-lived?
In the years leading up to the First World War,
Munich's entrepreneurs were less concerned with avant-garde artistic movements
than with placing their city at the forefront of cutting-edge industry.
A century later, it's a trend that continues,
with some of Germany's best-known companies headquartered here,
alongside leading seats of learning
like the city's technical university.
I could hardly come to one of the world's most advanced countries
without taking a peep at today's Germany.
'I'm at this impressive campus to meet researchers who are developing
'flight stabiliser software designed to help inexperienced private pilots
'to land light aircraft safely.'
-Can I get in the driver's seat?
This obviously is a flight simulator,
but what is special about it?
What are you doing with it at this university?
We use it for controller development
and we want the pilot to fly the aircraft smooth
and we wanted to reduce the workload of the pilot.
-So, this is not about training pilots, it's about developing software?
How can you best demonstrate to me what it is you're doing here?
So I think the best way to demonstrate it is that we make a flight.
So, today as I've never flown an aircraft before,
I can see the runway there, I think it's Munich Airport.
-I can also see that it's raining.
-Is the weather quite bad, actually?
-Yeah, it's really bad. You have much turbulences.
-Right. Thank you very much(!)
So, now you can control the aircraft.
-It's very sensitive controls.
I don't think I'd like to be a passenger!
Now it's easier because I've put the controller on.
-I'm flying now towards the runway.
-Keeping the nose...
-Not too much.
-Not too much. A little bit up again.
The stabilisers are helping me because it's not as bumpy as it was.
-I'm swaying towards the runway.
-Yeah, nose down. A little bit up.
A little bit up, please.
OK, it's going to be a hard landing.
I think the best...
I don't think your stabilisers helped me quite enough.
-But it did actually feel...
It did feel better even though I still managed not quite to
get onto the runway. Thank you very much and what a brilliant project.
You won't find many pilots as bad as me.
Yeah, no problem. You're welcome.
Some say that the final destination of my 1913 adventure,
situated on an island on Munich's River Isar
paved the way for the city's early 20th century development
from a city of art and culture to a hub of hi-tech excellence.
Bradshaw's tells me that in the Deutsches Museum
are collections relating to natural science and engineering.
Kings and countries had exhibited their treasures of art
since time immemorial but the idea of displaying
the artefacts of science was new at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1903, German electricity pioneer Oskar von Miller
unveiled plans to build the Deutsches Museum,
an impressive and visionary institution
that now holds more than 100,000 exhibits.
Dr Willie Fussell is in charge of the archives.
-Hello, Michael. How are you?
Tell me, what was the origin of the idea of having a science museum,
a Deutsches Museum, in Munich?
The original idea was, in 1891,
when the founder of the Deutsches Museum, Oskar von Miller,
made an exhibition in Frankfurt.
Oskar von Miller was, in this time, a very famous engineer in Germany.
He was a co-founder of the AEG, for example,
and he'd built up several power stations in Germany.
Now visited by over a million people every year,
the museum opened its first temporary exhibition
in 1906 in the former National Museum building.
The very next day, the foundation stone was laid for this,
the project's permanent home on Coal Island.
The ambitious venture was funded by benefactors
who were impressed by the support that Oskar von Miller
had garnered for his big idea.
Here is an original diploma from the German Emperor, William II.
-Have a look inside.
Yeah, the writing, the signature of Wilhelm II,
dated 1906, November 13th.
-So it had absolute royal support.
-Yes, he had.
In 1934, Oskar von Miller suffered a heart attack
and died hours after visiting his beloved museum.
As I pass through it, I'm impressed by his legacy.
A collection which illustrates the pivotal moments
from the history of science and technology.
Moments that have shaped our lives.
In the aircraft hall,
a replica of aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal's recreational glider
is exhibited next to the Fokker triplane,
flown during the Great War by the Red Baron.
Has conflict played a big part in scientific progress, I wonder.
Technical development is forced by wars, by military, of course.
Especially many aircraft are developed from World War I
to World War II.
On the other hand, they transfer back to peaceful uses,
as we can see in the Deutsches Museum, too.
In the last 100 years, there's been a transformation in Munich
from a city of art to a city of science as well.
Do you think Oskar von Miller played an important part in that?
Yes, I do, because nowadays,
Munich has several universities, well-known worldwide.
-And we should thank Oskar von Miller for that?
-Yes. We should do.
This guidebook was published in an age of innocence.
In the centuries since, the Germans have been crushed twice
and their cities razed to the ground.
The Bohemians who, in 1913, dreamt of liberty,
were enslaved for 50 years,
first by Nazis, then by Communists.
The Bohemians and the Bavarians retain a distinctive culture today,
rooted in their history as independent kingdoms.
And where the Iron Curtain once descended,
nothing now blocks the tracks.
Citizens and their ideas move freely.
'Next time, I visit France and Spain,
'where I'll eat fashionable cake in Bordeaux...'
It's named after the shape of the mould and it's a groovy shape!
It IS a groovy shape!
'..I'll leave my stomach behind in San Sebastian...'
-Oh, dear, we're going up again!
'..and prepare to dip my toes in Edwardian-style.'
-What do you think of my, erm...?
-I thought you were from prison at first.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
With his 1913 guidebook in hand, Michael Portillo explores the stunning Art Nouveau architecture of the Czech capital. In a café popular with artists of the time he discovers the dance craze of the day - the tango - and gamely gives it a go. In the spa of kings, Marienbad, now known as Marianske Lazne, Michael samples the sulphurous waters and wallows in peat and mud. At the Skoda factory in Pilsen he investigates how the machine products of peacetime gave way to the manufacture of armaments for war and test drives a state-of-the- art passenger train locomotive made there today.
Crossing the border from Bohemia to Bavaria, Michael encounters a fire-breathing dragon in Furth-im-Wald and in Nuremberg he rides German railway history - made in Britain. Arriving in Munich, he finds a blue horse created at the time of his guidebook and discovers an early 20th-century pioneer who laid the foundations for the city's pre-eminence in science and technology today.