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Marienplatz - where it all begins
Mariensäule and the Glockenspiel (Mary's Column and the Carillon) are two of the standout sights of Marienplatz. The Glockenspiel is part of the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), which gives three or four unexciting and uninspiring performances per day each lasting about 20 minutes. One goes there to be able to say, "I saw the Glockenspiel when I was in Munich." The truth is that some people come to Munich to see the Glockenspiel, but they return because of the wonderful and exciting city that Munich is. The anti-climactic Glockenspiel is where one can go to watch tourists from all over the world craning their necks for 20 minutes, waiting for something exciting to happen. It never does. One is reminded of the song, "Is That All There Is." It's a good thing that the area is filled with places to, "break out the booze, and have a ball." Just change the word "booze" to "beer" and "have a ball!"
There is a tower in the Neues Rathaus that can climbed (or take the elevator) for a view of Marienplatz and the surroundings of the old city. (The views from Alte Peter are better, but it is 300+ steps.) The other landmark in Marienplatz is the Alte Rathaus (Old City Hall) which now contains a toy museum. Guides point out that the words "new" and "old" are relative because the "altstadt" (old city) has been totally rebuilt since the bombing ravages of WWII. Most of the buildings are very faithful recreations of the original buildings from the 14th to 19th centuries.
Go to Marienplatz first, and everything (I do mean everything) gets better. That does NOT mean that Marienplatz and the Glockenspiel are not good. It means that the rest of Munich is sensational. It is truly one of the most "fun" cities in the world.
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Munich's central square is dominated by the impressively ornate New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) and is a great congregating spot in the Alstadt (Old Town). The crowds get the heaviest at 11am, 12pm and 5pm when the Glockenspiel in the center of the Neues Rathaus puts on a bit of a show for the gawking throngs below. The day I was there to check out the clock's moving pieces, it was raining and yet, there were still a ton of people out waiting to see it.
The center of the square is marked by Mary's Column, which was erected to celebrate getting rid of Swedish troops who occupied Munich in the early 1600s.
Right in the center of the city is Marienplatz, a grand open space filled with some of Munich's greatest treasures. It's a good place to start any tour of the city, and is also a good place to orientate yourself from. Dominating the square from the north is the outstanding Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), while skulking off to the east side is the Altes Rathaus. Like many German cities the old one seems to look a lot fresher and newer than the new one. Right in the center of Marienplatz is the Mariensäule, a great column topped by a golden Virgin Mary, and surrounded on four corners by beast slaying little cherubs. The square is also overlooked by the twin spires of the Frauenkirche, and the towering spire of the Peterskirche (Old Peter).
- Historical Travel
The " Rathaus-Glockenspiel "
For most tourists THIS is, what they want to see, and plenty of them wait there every hour...
BUT ONLY at 11.00 a.m. + 12.oo noon
and from May till October also at 05.00 p.m. you may see the sculptures moving according to the chimes.
Something else happens at 09.00 p.m. on the 7th floor :
there will be the night-watchman and the " Münchner Kindl " will be taken to bed.
(I have to admit I never watched that scene at 09.00 p.m., but found it in my guide-books, and maybe YOU may have a look at least, when you know about it.)
In order to watch the Glockenspiel on the Rathaus, it is best to walk up St.Peter-church or get one of the tables at the windows of "Cafe Glockenspiel" in the 5th floor of a house opposite of the Rathaus!
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Column of Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary has been regarded as the patroness of Bavaria for over 400 years. During the 1630's Munich faced not only advancing Swedish armies bent on destruction but also the plague in which a third of the populace died. The Swedish were bribed to save the city and the plague resolved. In thanks, Elector Maximilian took the gilded oversized figure from the Frauenkirche and had constructied a column on the main square. It has remained the central site of devotion for Bavarian Catholics. Do note at the base four angels battling the four great enemies -- war, hunger, disease, and most important to the Wittelsbach the ultimate devil Martin Luther.
The square was named Marienplatz in 1854. It is also the central site for measuring highway distances, point zero, in Bavaria.
It has served as a focal point for important events since its construction. There have been many papal visits since Pope Pius VI in 1782 including John Paul II in 1980. Current Pope Benedict XVI made his last official act as cardinal of Munich 1982 a prayer at this site before leaving to serve in Rome as well as his first act upon returning as Pope in 2006. The armies which left to fight the Ottoman Empire in the late 17th Century left from this symbol of Bavarian Catholicism.
The Nazis intrusion into the life of German citizens included a ban on public Catholic prayer. Silent prayer passing the Mariensaule was a token protest. During the war, the column was removed to safety and replaced amidst the ruins in 1945 by Cardinal Michael Faulhaber. It's currrent site reflects placement after removal for construction of the subway in 1970. The Column of Mary is and remains the focal point for the Bavarian veneration of the Virgin today.
After our visit to Nymphemburg Castle,our bus took us to the center of the city.The bus driver leaved the bus parked in a parking lot in the center and then my whole group and me,with our tour guide started a very nice and long walked tour guide in the city.
We started seeing the MARIENTPLATZ or (Mary' Square),really this huge and wonderful square is Munich's heart.It is located in the center of the Old Town,and on the square and just around you'll see some of best buildings and architecture that Munich has to offer.
Marientplatz is always full with tourist and normally it is crowded specially the bars and souvernirs shops around.Is a ver nice place to start a walked tour in the city as we did!.
The Heart of Munich & The Glockenspiel
Marienplatz is one of Munich's central squares - a pedestrian zone with shops, restaurants, churches, a market, street performers, etc. You can easily spend a couple of hours here wandering around, shopping, stopping in at the churches, having a beer at an outdoor cafe.
One of the big attractions of Marienplatz is the Glockenspiel. There are performances at 11, 12, and 5. Hordes of people will form in front of the Rathaus. Carved wood figures a story high will joust and dance - revolving to the music. It's very touristy and even a little boring, but it's world famous and you will go and watch anyway!
- Arts and Culture
A lovely sunny day when we arrived in Munich on our way to Weilheim. This ever-popular central square of Munich with the impressive huge Neo-Gothic Rathaus (Town Hall) and its famous Glockenspiel is visited and photographed by every tourist to this city.
This is the place for many celebrations and activities throughout the year.
Just off it you will find a fantastic open air market on Saturdays selling the freshest of fruits and other delights.
Most famous street in Munich
Shown in the picture is Marienplatz. I love Bayern, lived a year there, and visited munich three times. Once, in dreary winter weather, but i was so excited i still went, second, to see the Neuschwanstein castle nearby, third to see the Deutsche Technische Museum. Every time it was mandatory to make a visit to marienplatz. Walk down this amazing street and see the weatlh of bavaria, nice people, until you reach the Town hall (Das Rathaus) Es ist wunderbar!
Get yourself a german glass boot like i did, see whats going on in the square next to the edifying town hall, as long as there are not dominatrix and gays/lesbians gathering for a parade like when i went ARGGGH!, and see the Frauenkirche as well, which you can take an elevator to the top (Yes, there is an elevator!!)
Do some shopping, talk to the locals (germans are amazing people i think youll find), and why not go into a bierhall for your first Mass of beer!!
First port of call
To get your bearings in Munich, head first of all to the Marienplatz - the town hall square.
Firstly, Marienplatz is very pretty. Most imposing of all is the Neues Rathaus building (New Town Hall) as shown in the picture, featuring the famous 'Glockenspiel' on its tower high up above the square. This is not a musical instrument but a mechanical clock with 43 bells and 32 life-sized automaton figures. The Glockenspiel chimes at 11 a.m. every day (as well as 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. in summer) and plays one of four tunes whilst the figures re-enact two Bavarian stories from the 16th century - usually iwitnessed by a mass gathering of tourists. The Town Hall also has a vast and highly recommended resturant in it's cellar (the 'Ratskellar') serving some delicious Bavarian dishes (see my 'Resturants' tips).
But more importantly, the square is the hub of the city. Most of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines converge on the Marienplatz so it is the perfect starting point for exploring the city.
On foot you can head west along Kaufinger/Neuhauser Strasse towards the fountains of Karlsplatz - a 10 minute walk. Both streets are lined with posh department stores and al fresco drinking/dining opportunities.
Alternatively, venturing north takes you along Theatiner and Ludwig Strasse with their classical architecture - notably the Theatinerkirche and Residenz. This part of the city is a 5 or 10 minute walk and it is where you may start to feel geographically a lot further south than you really are. Further on is the start of the Englischer Garden park, which straddles the River Isar.
Eastwards takes you towards the legendary Hofbrauhaus (another 'must-do' for Munich visitors) and the Deutsches Museum.
To the south-west of the square (2 minutes walk) is the Peterskirche, which overlooks the wonderful Viktualienmarkt (Food & Drink Market). The church tower is a great place to get a view of the city.
So as you can see, Marienplatz is the definitive place to begin exploring the city - and that's why it's my number one tip!
- Historical Travel
Munich’s central square, Marienplatz, is just about halfway between the two opera houses. This photo is one that I took from the top of one of the towers of the Frauenkirche.
The old-looking building on the left is actually the New City Hall (Neues Rathaus), which is called that because they didn't even start building it until 1867.
If you see a lot of people loitering around Marienplatz shortly before 11.00 a.m. or 12 noon (or shortly before 5.00 p.m. during the summer months), they are probably waiting for the Carillon (Glockenspiel) to start playing in the tower of the New City Hall.
Second photo: Another attraction of Marienplatz is the top floor of Ludwig Beck's department store, which offers Germany's largest and finest selection of opera and classical music CDs. (See my shopping tip.)
Wandering Around Marianplatz Square
Like many European cities, Munich is a wanderer's paradise. It is flat and very easy to walk (remember that to walk on cobblestone streets, you will need thick-soled walking shoes). Also, it is a wonderful city to tour with a bicycle. If that is not your thing, make sure you stay out of bicycle lanes and watch behind you on your left and right.
The area around Marianplatz is filled with places to see. There are shops to stick your head into, gasthauses with every kind of Bavarian beer, wonderful restaurants for all palates, churches and cathedrals, department stores, and even a museum or two, all within a block of Marianplatz. One can climb to the towers of the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), the Frauenkirche, and Peterskirch for birds eye views of Munich or just wander around for a ground level view.
Watch the Glockenspiel
The day we arrived was overcast and a little rainy, and this was to be our main sightseeing day. Luckily, the Glockenspiel does its thing rain or shine, so we donned our rain jackets and took the subway to Marienplatz. Our handy guide book informed us that the jousts occur at 11:00 and 12:00, and we were there just before 12:00, so didn't have to wait long for a show.
The Neues Rauthaus, which houses the glockenspiel, is a beautiful buliding that was built from 1867 until 1906, and survived the bombing in WWII. The Glockenspiel tells the story of a royal wedding from the 16th centry. When watching, you must be patient. The figures on the top give the first part of the show, then the figures on the bottom recreate their dance in the street from when the plague was lifted.
The Marienplatz, like any other "platz", is the center of activity of the town. Located right in front of the Rathaus, you can see the many street performers and also get a good view of the clock tower when the hour hand strikes.
My favorite part is when people start taking pictures of the clock figurines moving every hour. One would think it would make more sense to take videos instead.... hmmmm.
1-Day Munich: City Center / Marienplatz
Munich is the 3rd most populous city in Germany and the capital of the federal state of Bavaria. The city itself is made up of historic buildings and impressive architecture, as much of Munich was reconstructed after World World II. National Geographic Traveler ranked Munich at number 30 out of top 100 historical destinations around the world.
One can spend many days discovering Munich… think BMW, beergarden, lederhosen, traditional Bavarian dishes… Mmmm. So far I’ve spent over a month in Munich, over 3 or 4 trips and it’s one of my favorite cities to visit and work in. This will be first of many 1-day itineraries for this fabulous city and I’ll start with the city center or better known as Marienplatz.
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Munich Travel Guide
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