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Marienplatz: The lively story in the heart of Munich!

Marienplatz St. Mary’s Square
Marienplatz, the pulsating jewel of Munich, spreads its historic and vibrant charm into the heart of the city, providing a mesmerizing scene where Gothic architecture and Bavarian charm intertwine in a spectacular dance of past and present.

Tourist Information

Getting thereMarienplatz is easily accessible by subway, tram, and bus.
Subway U 3 and U6, subway stop: Marienplatz
LocationMarienplatz (St. Mary’s Square), 80331 Munich, Germany, Europe


What is the meaning of the name Munich?

The name of the city of Munich comes from the old German term “Munichen”, which means “of the monks”. The name comes from the Benedictine monks who had a monastery in what later became Munich’s Old Town.

Why is Marienplatz important?

Marienplatz (Mary’s Square) is a central square in Munich. It has been the main square of the city since 1158.

Marienplatz has witnessed many historical events and royal ceremonies. Notable events include the destruction of a bazaar in a fire in 1327 and the proclamation of the Bavarian Republic in 1918.

What is the history and meaning of the name “Marienplatz”?

Marienplatz was named after the Virgin Mary and has been the central square of Munich since the Middle Ages. The name “Marienplatz” translates into Romanian as “Virgin Mary Square”.

What do the statues and monuments in Marienplatz represent?

The statue of the Virgin Mary in the middle of the square symbolizes protection and blessing over the city. The tall Mariensaule column was erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of the Swedish occupation and represents the Virgin Mary.

At each corner of the column pedestal is a statue of a putto. These were made by Ferdinand Murmann. The four putti are each depicted fighting a different animal, symbolizing the city’s overcoming of obstacles: war represented by a lion, plague by a basilisk, famine by a dragon, and heresy by a serpent.

The bell tower of the Town Hall is home to the famous Glockenspiel bells, which depict scenes from the city’s history. This clock in the town hall tower attracts millions of tourists every year.

Why is Glockenspiel famous?

The clock (Glockenspiel) depicts 32 characters who, at 11 am, 12 pm, and 5 pm (the 5 o’clock show does not take place from November to February) set in motion, playing a small skit. At these hours, the sound of the 43 bells of the town hall accompanies the animation of the characters.

The upper carousel was made for the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V with Renata of Lothringen. The lower part represents a local folk dance, the “shepherd’s dance”, and dates back to the time of the plague when it was performed to mark the end of the epidemic.

The clock strikes for the last time at 9 p.m. The song lasts two minutes and begins when the light comes on in the night watchman’s room. He appears accompanied by his dog and carries a halberd, the silampa horn, a model inspired by Richard Wagner’s work “The Master Singers of Nuremberg”. After a short pause, the lullaby, Wiegenlied, composed by Johannes Brahms, is sung. Das Münchner Kindl, the monk, moves followed by the Angel of Peace. When the tour is complete, the light goes out in the tower. It is a sign that the night watchman has made his rounds and the guardian angels have led the monk Kindl to the bedroom, peace and quiet fall over Munich.

What is the characteristic architecture of the buildings around the square?

The buildings around Marienplatz have an eclectic architectural character, ranging from Gothic and Renaissance styles to Baroque and Neoclassical.

Marienplatz is dominated by the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) on the north side. The central tower of the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) in Munich bears the emblem of the city at every level.

Marienplatz St. Mary’s Square
New Town Hall Marienplatz

On the eastern side is the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) of Munich. It is a Gothic-style building with a council chamber, a ballroom, and a tower, which have been rebuilt.

The old town hall was completely destroyed by fire in 1460. Between 1470 and 1480, the old town hall was rebuilt in Gothic style by Jorg von Halsbach.

Old Town Hall Marienplatz
Old Town Hall Marienplatz

The building was destroyed once again during World War II but was later rebuilt to the original 15th-century plans.

What does that symbol with a monk that can be seen everywhere represent?

The coat of arms with the monk is a popular representation of the city of Munich (Munich) and its history. This emblem depicts a bearded monk wrapped in a cloak holding a caliper, which was an ancient form of measuring liquids and weights used in the past to set market prices.

This symbol is related to the history of Munich’s merchants and markets. The monk in the coat of arms is said to symbolize the work of the monks who in the past had an important role in managing the markets and trade in the city. The monk also mentions the importance of correct and fair measurements in commercial activities.

This first coat of arms, designed by the painter Kaspar Braun in 1847, is found on everything that wants to indicate that it belongs to Munich: on flags, badges, postcards, tram cars, canal covers, beer glasses, and of course in the center of Munich, on the grill of the gate at the entrance to the town hall.

In the Middle Ages, agricultural products were sold in the town square and performances were held.

Is there a Christmas market in Marienplatz?

At Christmas, Munich’s oldest traditional Christmas market (“Christkindlmarkt”) takes place here.

What interesting legends or stories are associated with Marienplatz?

Legend of the Witches’ Curse

Legend has it that witches were executed in six different places on Marienplatz in the Middle Ages. These executions would have generated a curse on the square and its buildings, especially on the Town Hall. This could be an explanation for the incidents and misfortunes that happened in the area.

Belfry with Riders

The Town Hall bell tower in Marienplatz is home to the famous Glockenspiel bells, which feature two stories. One of them is the “Golden Apple”, which marks the wedding between Wilhelm V and Renata de Lorraine. The second story is “Dance of the Horsemen”, which presents a jousting tournament. It is said that this dance was performed to remind the city of the ravages of the Black Death, thus asking for divine protection.

Knight on horseback from the Tower

On the third floor of the Town Hall in Marienplatz, one can see a figure of a knight on horseback who appears to be fighting a dragon. This figure is said to represent the Knight Saint George, who in legends is often associated with fighting evil and protecting the city.

Curse of the Stairs

During the construction of the Town Hall in Marienplatz, a worker who worked on it fell and died. Following this tragedy, it is said that he cursed the stairs in the City Hall tower. After the construction was finished, people noticed that the stairs were built wrong, the bricks seemed to go in different directions. This is known as the “Curse of the Stairs”.

The Virgin Mary is a protective symbol

The statue of the Virgin Mary in the middle of Marienplatz symbolizes protection and blessing over the city. Munich residents bring flowers to the statue and pray for protection and luck.

About the author


I am Catalina, and my passion for travel, mysteries, legends and archaeology drives me to explore the world and uncover its hidden wonders.