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Olympiapark (tel. 089/30-67-0; www.olympiapark-muenchen.de; U-Bahn: Olympiazentrum), site of the 1972 Olympic Games, occupies 300 hectares (741 acres) at the city's northern edge. More than 15,000 workers from 18 countries transformed the site into a park of nearly 5,000 trees, 43km (27 miles) of roads, 32 bridges, and a lake. Olympiapark is a city in itself: It has its own railway station, U-Bahn line, mayor, post office, churches, and elementary school. The planners even broke the city skyline by adding a 293m (961-ft.) television tower in the center of the park.

The area's showpiece is a huge Olympic Stadium, capable of seating 69,300 spectators, and topped by the largest roof in the world -- nearly 67,000 sq. m. (721,182 sq. ft.) of tinted acrylic glass. The roof serves the additional purpose of collecting rainwater and draining it into the nearby Olympic lake.

Olympia Tower, Olympiapark (tel. 089/30-67-27-50), is open daily 9am to midnight. A ride up the tower (on the speediest elevator on the Continent, no less) costs 4.50€ for adults and 2.80€ for children 15 and under. An exclusive dining spot in the tower is the Restaurant 181 (tel. 089/350948181; www.restaurant181.com), with a selection of international and German dishes; it's open daily 11am to 4:30pm and 6 to 10:30pm. A complete dinner costs 40€ to 125€. The food is good and fresh, but of secondary consideration -- most come here for the extraordinary view, which reaches to the Alps. Four observation platforms look out over Olympiapark. The Tower Restaurant revolves around its axis in 60 minutes, giving guests who linger a changing vista of Munich. Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted.

At the base of the tower is the Restaurant Olympiasee, Spiridon-Louis-Ring 7 (tel. 089/30-67-28-22), serving genuine Bavarian specialties, with meals costing 12€ and up. Favored items include half a roast chicken and various hearty soups. Food is served daily 10am to 7pm (8:30pm in summer). The restaurant is popular in summer because of its terrace. No credit cards are accepted.

The BMW Museum, Olympiapark 2 (tel. 0180/21-18-822; www.bmw-museum.de), is open Tuesday to Friday 9am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 8pm. Admission is 12€ for adults and 6€ for children. The museum presents more than 90 years of BMW heritage, including a large range of BMW Roadsters plus the BMW Art Car Collection -- called "rolling masterpieces." You can also see exhibitions of how the company is researching alternative forms of engine and energy resources, with a focus on hydrogen as a fuel. The circular building of the BMW Museum is called the "Bowl," and is the venue for temporary exhibitions.

Black September for the Olympics

The 1972 Munich Olympics was meant to celebrate peace among nations, and for the first 10 days, they did. However, on September 5, eight Palestinian terrorists, later claiming to be part of the "Black September" terrorist group, entered Olympic Village. Within a few minutes of entering the quarters of the sleeping Israeli athletes, they had already killed two Israelis and taken nine others hostage.

As the ensuing siege played out on TV sets around the world, the terrorists demanded the release of 200 Arab guerrillas jailed in Israel, and safe passage for themselves and their hostages. Few novelists could have conceived the plot (and mistakes by German law enforcement) that ensued, as negotiations helplessly and hopelessly dragged on between the terrorists and the West German security officials. In Israel, Golda Meir firmly stood by her government's policy of "not dealing with terrorists." That job fell clearly upon the shoulders of the West Germans.

On the evening of the day of the attack, helicopters transported the terrorists and their hostages from Olympic Village to the military air base at Fürstenfeldbruck, 24km (15 miles) away, landing at 10:30pm. The negotiations suddenly collapsed when a West German sharpshooter hidden in the darkness fired unexpectedly at the terrorists. The Palestinians quickly responded by unleashing automatic fire at the tied and bound Israelis; one tossed a hand grenade into a helicopter, killing the remaining hostages. In response, the West Germans unleashed their firepower, killing five of the terrorists before capturing the others.

Mark Spitz, an American Jew and winner of seven gold medals, was flown out of Germany for his own safety as the Olympic Games were suspended for the first time ever. The world mourned, and in a controversial decision, the Games resumed 34 hours later. The presiding officer of the games, Avery Brundage, issued a famous pronouncement, "The Games must go on!" and so they did.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.