Munich gives go-ahead to ‘urban naked zones’

Germany's third largest city is to bring in tolerance for nude sunbathing. Picture: Callum Bennetts
Germany's third largest city is to bring in tolerance for nude sunbathing. Picture: Callum Bennetts
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AFTER the famous beer festival, here comes the bare festival.

Munich has legalised public nudity in six designated zones – including one just ten minutes from its busy main square.

Germany’s third largest city is to bring in the tolerance areas after state-wide laws regulating nude sunbathing expired last autumn.

The six designated areas are not fenced off or hidden, though their location in parkland grants a degree of privacy and they are to be signposted.

The zone in the midst of the city’s Englischer Garten – one of the largest city parks in the world – is expected to be popular, with a second to be sited on the edge of the same park, and the remaining four located along the Isar river.

The laws are being introduced after control over sunbathing passed from the national government in Berlin to local authorities in 2013.

Conservative politician Uwe Brandl, from the Christian Social Union party, told the Mittel­bayerische Zeitung newspaper he expected an increase in conflict between nudists and non-nudists in public bathing places.

However, public nudity has been a common sight in Munich, particularly in the Englischer Garten, since the 1960s.

Travel site names the park as one of Germany’s must-visit places for nudist tourists, saying: “From the origins of the modern-day naturist movement to naked airlines and naked hotels, a lot has been written about the Germans’ fondness for taking their clothes off.

“For much of the population of Munich, it’s almost part of their DNA. Whenever the sun is out, you’ll find Münchner of all ages, shapes and sizes catching some rays as nature intended.

“This being Germany, there’s no embarrassment about the fact that everybody is naked – the park is named the English Garden because of the original style of the horticulture, not as an ironic way of poking fun at traditional British prudery.”

The Atlantic’s Cities site, which reported the story yesterday, said that public nudity for Germans is about the pursuit of a natural state of living rather than anything unseemly.

Journalist Feargus O’Sullivan wrote: “What Germany does have is a strong cultural tradition that seeks to escape artifice and the pressures of city life to return to something supposedly more natural.

“Seen in this light, stripping off in public is the voluntary ­removal of a heavy mask, a ­return to unvarnished honesty rather than some titter-worthy peek-a-boo.

“Thus even a place with a fairly buttoned-up reputation like Munich sees allowing naked sunbathing as a public good.

“It’s a reminder that, even in the midst of a big city, nature and peace are still there to be enjoyed in what many like to consider, accurately or not, a natural state.”