Munich may be the place to go in Europe for those who want to get naked in the city to bask in the sun, but why does the local government allow it? Germany’s third largest city lies in the state of Bavaria near the Bavarian Alps and Isar River, and it was considered as one of the world’s “most livable city” by Monocle. The Bavarian culture, history, and mindset may have something to do with the acceptance and tolerance of public nudity.
According to BBC, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), which is a democratic and conservative political party in Germany, is well-known for their ability to work well together despite having opposing viewpoints from either side of the party. Roman Herzog, a former member of the Bavarian CSU, once called Bavaria as the home of “Laptops and Lederhosen (leather trousers),” which refers to “high technology” and tradition (leather trousers are the Bavarian’s traditional fashion).
Munich residents have a philosophy of “leben und leben lassen,” which means “live and let live” This refers to being tolerant and achieving self-fulfillment in order to cohabit peacefully with different mindsets and populations. To avoid conflicts between those who like to do “their own thing,” which can be two different things that can cause problems between both parties, Munich residents and other Bavarians developed a mindset that tolerates the “self-fulfillment of others” in order to have their own self-fulfillment tolerated in return. One of these tolerances is public nudity, which is most likely why the government in Munich allowed people to get naked legally in designated areas.
There are currently six “urban naked zones” that allow folks in Munich — locals and tourists alike — to walk and sit around in full nude. One of these zones is the Englische Garten (English Garden), a large urban park that offers many recreational and leisure activities. Runners and cyclists can go through a 48.5-mile (78 km) long network of paths that meanders throughout the park. People can play amateur soccer matches or simply toss a frisbee in the wide, open fields. Of course, there are a few spots along the Isar River and elsewhere in the park that nudists can go and do their thing. Despite the apparent seclusion from the bustle of urban Munich, the Englische Garten is almost a one-minute bike ride away from chic shopping areas in Germany, where public nudity is not only tolerated, but “legally sanctioned,” according to BBC. There are no fences or walls that surround the public nudity area. Joggers, families, and tourists can freely run or walk by the nudist “gatherings.” It is unknown whether people — especially non-European tourists — may snap their cameras away at the free “nudies.” However, taking pictures of nudists may be a social taboo because few may appreciate to see themselves nude online.
However, there are areas in he Englische Garten where nudity is not allowed. The oval bridleway is one designated area in the park where being bare-naked is perfectly fine. If a nudists steps out of the oval bridleway and take walk elsewhere in the park, a police officer would most likely spot the nudist and make an arrest. The direction in which the nudist wanders can affect how he or she is arrested and treated. If the nudist walks to from the Englischer Garten to the southern border toward the Bayerische Staatskanzlei (Bavarian State Chancellery), he or she would be arrested by a Bavarian official. However, walking naked westward would lead to the American embassy, where the nudist would be arrested by an American official and may be subjected to American and Bavarian law.
According to Bayerische Nacktbadeverordnung 361 (Bavarian nude bathing order number 361), nudity is allowed in the followed designated areas besides the oval bridleway:
1. Two spots at the southern part along the Isar River (Marienklause and Brudermü hl bridge)
2. South-western part of Feldmoching Lake
3. A northern section of the Englischer Garten (Schwabinger Bucht)
4. Isar Island Oberfö Hring in the northern part of Isar River
Most Munich residents do not find public nudity in the park to be anything special. For most nudists, getting naked is a way for people to allow themselves to be who they are and to get away from the stress of urban Munich, which is why designated naked zones are put up legally.
By Nick Ng