The square was named after the Marian column, erected in 1638 with the golden statue of Our Lady commemorating the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years War. Today Marienplatz is dominated by the New City Hall, built in Gothic Revival style between 1867 & 1908 plus the annual invasion of tourists from all over the world.
Center point of Munich & all measured distances to anywhere in Bavaria.
Often when I travel into the city centre at the weekend I land inevitably at Marienplatz, it’s like a magnet. The city’s underground trains all pass through here on the main line making it no wonder that there where the main shopping area is, is also where you will find the largest crowds of people, many come to see the Glockenspiel at 11:00am & 17:00pm. Marienplatz is the Times Square of Munich you could say but without the neon advertising. On the contrary Marienplatz has still a lot of old world charm, unspoilt by modern progress.
Especially at Christmas when the market is in full swing from the first week of Advent you can appreciate this traditional atmosphere. The smell of Glühwein (Mulled Wine) with Cinnamon & Cloves plus the aroma of Burnt Almonds fills the air. In front of the townhall stands a massive Christmas tree with hundreds of glittering lights.
In Summer the New Townhall is often center stage for celebrating Bayern Munich for yet again becoming German Premier League Champions. The team & trainer wave & sing along with the fans from the townhall balcony whilst drinking the one or other Weissbier of course.
On the corner of Kauffingerstrasse/Rosenstrasse stands a German department store Kaufhof where from a small cafe on the third floor this splendid view of Marienplatz can be enjoyed if you are lucky enough to get one of those window tables.
COAT OF ARMS
Above the main portal of the Glockenspiel Tower of the New Town Hall is this plaque depicting the coat of arms of Munich depicting a young monk dressed in black holding a book originating from the 13th century.
After air raids in 1944 the town hall was lightly damaged & had to be partially reconstructed. In this image you can see the difference in architectural styles whereby the right side of the building adjacent to Landschaftsstrasse was simplified. At the end of the 90’s the complete building was refurbished, especially the Neo-Gothic ornamental forging crowning the roof.
THROUGH THE ARCHWAY
The archway under the Old Town Hall on the east end of Marienplatz was tunneled in 1877 due to increased traffic & pedestrian usage.
The Ratskeller (Town Hall Cellar) is to be found in the main courtyard of the New Town Hall on the right hand side & offers the visitor a chance to enjoy a cool bier & try some typical Bavarian specialties in a Gothic styled vault painted with frescoes by Heinrich Schlitt describing the battle of beer against wine.
WHERE AM I?
Well if you don’t know by now you never will. Weinstrasse is a shopping street on the west side of Marienplatz that leads to the Marienhof, a small park like square where one can rest those aching feet, enjoy the sun & admire the Rathaus from the rear side.
TWIN TOWERED CATHEDRAL
The twin Gothic towers of the Frauenkirche, Munich’s catholic cathedral topped with Renaissance domes is a pretty awesome spectacle especially when viewed from the viewing platform above the Glockenspiel in the New Town Hall.
Here you can get an impression of how big & how crowded the Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz is in the Advent weeks leading up to Christmas.
ALL IN PINK
If you like spiral-staircases, especially those in pink that lead to a cafe with a view & works of art on the way up then a visit to the Glockenspiel Cafe opposite the Neus Rathaus on Marienplatz is just what the doctor ordered.
The best known Christmas market is of course the main one on Marienplatz. It isn’t really a favourite of mine due to the crowds & passers by fighting to get from one shop to the next. Unfortunately the atmosphere lacks a little in comparison to other markets. Optically though, well worth a look.
Directly opposite the Neue Rathaus is the Glockenspiel Cafe, a rather touristy place that does get overcrowded but is worth a visit if you are lucky enough to get a table at the window for that classic view of the Glockenspiel Tower. In the entrance below is this interesting work of art.
The main courtyard is a nice place to enjoy a coffee away from the crowded pedestrian shopping zone around Marienplatz & gives one the chance to admire the spiral-staircase tower which is decorated with stone figures representing the four stages of life from infancy to old age.
The Neues Rathaus was a design from Georg von Hauberrisser & construction began in 1867 in Gothic Revival style. The building has a total of 400 rooms. An equestrian statue of Prince Regent Luitpold adorns the central facade & statues of the first four bavarian kings decorate the bay of the main tower. Additional statues of the Wittelsbacher family were also added after construction was completed in 1904.
TOWN HALL COURTYARD
Proceeding through the entrance arch of the glockenspiel tower one enters the main courtyard where a pretty spiral stairway is located on the left. The courtyard is used in summer as a cafe.
ACROSS THE STREET
The golden statue of the Virgin Mary & Child are actually the Bavarian patrons sculpted in bronze & then gold plated giving the Marienplatz a stunning centre point, especially in the evening illuminated against a dark sky.
CITY HALL SPIRE
The main spire of the New Town Hall has a height of 85 m & can be reached using an elevator. The Glockenspiel is located directly below & performs daily at 11am, 12 noon & again at 5pm.
The Mariensäule dominates the centre of Marienplatz & was originally created to adorn the grave of Wilhelm V & was thus located in the Frauenkirche that you see here in the background. The column is considered the absolute centre point of bavaria & all distances are measured from this point.
The Gothic facade of the New City Hall is adorned with many scarey, odd looking characters such as the two sculptures in this image.
MADONNA & CHILD
The golden figures of the Virgin Mary & Child were originally located in the Frauenkirche just a few metres away, created in 1590. The column was the first of its kind north of the Alps & inspired other cities to adopt the same idea in this part of Europe.
READING THE STARS
Visitors to Marienplatz often think that the impressive Gothic town hall that lines the Northern side of the square is the ‘Old’ town hall but this isn’t true. The Altes Rathaus is actually the building on the eastern edge of the square in neo-gothic style with the rather pretty horoscopic clock.
On the first day of Advent Christmas markets open all over Germany & Munich’s Marienplatz is no exception. Of course being directly at the heart of town in the shopping zone the Christkindlmarkt is well attended before & after the shops have closed.
The Mariensäule was erected to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation after the Thirty Year’s War. The column, topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary stands on a crescent moon as the Queen of Heaven & was created in 1590.
The Mariensäule is a column that marks the absolute centre of Munich since 1638 & Marienplatz was actually named after the column.
Marienplatz is a square slap bang in the middle of town where tourist & local alike come to drink a Weissbier, do their shopping or in this case enjoy a gig.