MUNICH — Look directly overhead on the U-Bahn subway system, and there’s no translation necessary. The eighth stop on the U3 train is labeled Olympiazentrum, adorned by five gray interlocking rings.
Many passengers — tourists, mostly — exit the U3 at Olympiazentrum. The heart of the 1972 Olympics — including venues for track and field and swimming and the Olympic village — is about a 10-minute walk away. But directly off the escalator is just as popular of an attraction, the BMW Museum.
They are two distinct sites of German engineering, one modern and the other a relic of one of the most memorable Olympic Games. The BMW Museum is a sight to behold (and free), but walking beyond it and toward sports history was spine-tingling.
Here’s a photographic look at the 1972 Munich Olympic Village today:
The unique architecture is the first thing that stands out on the walk from the subway.
Runners congregate at the Olympic Park to traverse a loop around a small lake that’s maybe a couple miles. For the more daring, there’s a switchback-lined climb up to the top of this hill.
A pass into the track and field stadium cost €3. For €71, you can zipline from one end of the roof to the top of the stands on the other side and go onto what’s left of the track.
Every door into the press box is locked, but you can press a camera against a window to get a glimpse. It was last regularly used for Bayern Munich matches before Allianz Arena was built for the 2006 World Cup.
As you can see, only about 100 meters of track remains. Graffiti outside the press box read: “PRE LIVES — USA” was a reference to Steve Prefontaine, the iconic American who finished fourth in the 5,000 meters and died in a car crash three years later.
The Olympia Schwimmhalle housed Mark Spitz‘s then-record seven gold-medal performance at the 1972 Olympics. Now, it’s filled with lap swimmers.
The Olympic athletes’ village is pretty much across the street from the Olympic Park. It’s now an apartment complex, but several reminders of its past remain. The residents are surely used to the murmur of tourists with cameras.
Plug 31 Connollystraße into Google Maps, and this is where it leads you. This is the building where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were taken hostage on Sept. 5, 1972. It is not possible to go upstairs and to the balcony of this haunting image without resident access.
A memorial sits near the entrance to building 31 with 11 used candles and flowers. Residents didn’t seem to enter this way, though. There’s a garage below with an entrance that sees more traffic.
This is not near Olympic Park but at the heart of Oktoberfest — the Theresienwiese fairgrounds. What looked like the tallest roller coaster at the carnival-type event was an homage to the Olympic Games.