Marienplatz, Munich, Germany
Photo by Nicolas Vollmer  –  Link


Germany > Munich

Having been the central square of Munich since the 12th century, Marienplatz has more than laid its claim to being the city's true heart. During the Middle Ages, the square would have been used to hold markets and tournaments and was the centre of civil life; today, it's filled with lively street performers, surrounded by cafes and restaurants, with tourists gathering to gaze at its incredible Gothic buildings. As Oktoberfest begins the crowds swell and a jolly atmosphere is created, and come December, the twinkling lights and cinnamon scents of its Christmas market give it a whole different kind of glow. One thing is for sure though, it's a lively and enchanting setting no matter what time of year you visit.

What's in Marienplatz?

Naues Rathaus - The New City Hall is one of the grandest buildings in the square, and while it may look hundreds of years old thanks to its magnificent neo-gothic facade, the majority of it actually dates to the early 20th century. Now home to the mayor's office, the city council and the city administration team, there is an observation desk at the top of its tower, reachable by lift, which offers sweeping views across the city.

Altes Rathaus - On the opposite side of the square sits the Old City Hall, a reconstruction of the 'real' Old Town Hall that once stood there but was destroyed during bombing in World War II. First mentioned in city records as far back as 1310, it was used as the seat of the Munich City Council until 1847. Today, it contains a toy museum and a large ballroom that is still used for ceremonial purposes.

The Glockenspiel- Attached to the tower of the New City Hall, this detailed clock chimes loudly above the main square, and three times a day - at 11am, noon and 5pm - the life-sized figures that sit on the balcony just below it come alive, acting out historic events of the Bavarian region in a 12-minute-long show.

Mary's Column - Actually the monument that the whole square is named after, the Mariensäule is a column that was built in 1638 to mark the end of Swedish occupation. Decorated with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary, it was the first of its type to be built north of the Alps and inspired many other similar Marian columns.

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