DRIVEN’s globe-trotting correspondent Jonathon Ramsey recently visited BMW Welt—literally “BMW World”—in Munich, the center of the universe for enthusiasts of the famed Bavarian marque.

Here’s his report from the field:

Jonathon Ramsey visits BMW Welt—literally ‘BMW World’—in Munich

It was still early when we left the Aston Martin Rapide at the dealership in Munich, having only recently returned from a weekend in St. Moritz (that’s a story we’ll tell later).

Between a forecourt bristling with Astons and Bentleys and our apartment on Ruffinistrasse lay Olympiapark, the massive puzzle shape of man-made lakes and arboreal green that was built to host the Games in 1972.

A Perfect World

Inside of that park, across a bridge from the Olympiastade and a truly motley collection of edibles dispensed from carts and food trucks, lay BMW Welt, the medulla oblongata and cardiac complex of buildings pumping BMW products to the earth’s extremities.

The medulla oblongata and cardiac complex of buildings pumping BMW products

You’ve seen it.

It’s best known for what Münchners call the “BMW-Vierzylinder,” those four striated trunks of steel and glass capped by a blue-and-white logo large enough to advertise to myopic Neptunians.

A Perfect World

Or for the design-inclined, you might know it for the Double Cone and hovering Cloud Roof at the entrance to the BMW Museum (and if you do, we recommend perusing the Coop Himmelb(l)au design firm’s press sheet—you’ll never think of clouds the same way again.)

A Cirque du Soleil of architecture designed by the fabulously named Professor Wolf D. Prix

It is those two buildings, along with the manufacturing plant, that comprise BMW Welt.

Our destination was the museum, a Cirque du Soleil of architecture designed by the fabulously named Professor Wolf D. Prix, that sheltered a collection of automobiles, restaurants, bicycles, interactive displays, motorcycles, couches, books, kids’ exhibits, auditoriums, engines, simulators, leather and a couple of decidedly romantic fireplace settings and bearskin-looking rugs.

A Perfect World

It would be easy, here, to artfully relate some of its florid statistics, but you can find those anywhere and, more importantly, it would be beside the point:

Even if you don’t like cars you should experience it

Perhaps the grandest aspect of BMW Welt is that even if you don’t like cars, we are firmly of the mind that you should experience it.

If you do like cars, that is certainly a benefit.

A Perfect World

The central premise of BMW Welt is buyers taking delivery of their brand-new, freshly washed alphanumerically named members of the family.

The center of the museum complex devoted to the denouement of European Delivery

Three floors in the center of the museum complex are devoted to the denouement of European Delivery, in a process that begins at the private Premiere Lounge and becomes so pageantic—spotlights, turntables, suspended driving paths and glass elevators are involved—customers might think they won their cars.

A Perfect World

Yet even for those who say, “I don’t care about cars, I just like being in nice ones,” or if you can simply enjoy an atmosphere of sybaritic things—like interior design (the displays of leather and carpet samples from BMW Individual could have come from Architectural Digest), evenings by one of those fireplaces on one of those bearskin-like rugs with jazz man Agusti Fernandez on piano, or the library of books and fabulous coffee at M1 Cafe—then BMW Welt is a destination worthy of any visit to Munich.

BMW Welt is a destination worthy of any visit to Munich

And did we mention the carpaccio from cured salmon and cucumber, and ibérico pork loin at Restaurant International?

A Perfect World

BMW Welt’s three eateries and café are overseen by Vienna, Austria’s Do & Co, the culinary artists behind Vienna’s Do & Co Hotel, Demel pastries, and catering Formula 1 events.

Convention will cease to mean anything very quickly

Restaurant International is open until midnight and we admit the location is unconventional, but take a table in the back by the show kitchen and enjoy your meal and its preparation alongside a four-story wall of glass.

Convention will cease to mean anything very quickly.

For dessert, skip the Calvados panna cotta and go for BMW On Demand.

A Perfect World

You can rent anything in the BMW lineup, as well as classics (3.0 CSL, anyone) and motorcycles for a day or an evening (or more).

You can rent anything in the BMW lineup including classics

Should you wish—and you will—the On Demand team will lay out a driving route for you through the same Alpine Bavarian hinterlands that helped define what BMW is, and why.

And how else are you going to get to Ludwig II’s Linderhof palace in Eschenlohe?

A Perfect World

Our generous, private guide told us that BMW Welt was built “as a home for the promises of the brand.”

Folks aren’t splurging on a European vacation to retrieve a mere car

It was sometime around the introduction of Ferrari laptops and Armani Casa lamps we ceased paying attention to the sprawling, opportunity-and-PR-fueled blob of “brand,” but in this case there’s merit: folks aren’t splurging on a European vacation to retrieve a mere car.

And so BMW Welt isn’t merely about cars—it’s about the world of divinely detailed objects that go into cars, and the divine detailed dreams we imagine our cars might help us create. Better yet, it’s this: a promise fulfilled.

­ – J.R.R.