Munich's Old Town Hall - with a Toy Museum and Festival Hall

Altes Rathaus von oben

Old City Hall: Why it's worth a visit

There are two town halls on Marienplatz in the center of Munich. Today, the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) houses the Toy Museum, among other things. But that is not the only attraction.

The most important information about the Old Town Hall

  • Because of its plain facade, many consider the Old Town Hall to be more modern than the richly decorated, neo-Gothic style New Town Hall. In fact, the building history of the Old Town Hall dates back to the 14th century.
  • In 1874, the city administration moved out of the building. However, ceremonial events such as the conferring of honorary citizenship still take place in the banqueting hall.
  • Since 1983, the Toy Museum with its view into historical and current children's rooms has been spread over no less than four floors in the Old Town Hall.

The facade: reconstruction after the Second World War

Altes Rathaus München, Foto: Katy Spichal
Foto: Katy Spichal

The west façade of the Old Town Hall in particular has undergone repeated redesigns over the centuries. After the Second World War, the town hall was badly damaged. The town hall tower was even in danger of collapsing.

During the reconstruction, the preservationists oriented themselves on the Gothic original from the 15th century. Therefore, high windows were inserted and neo-Gothic gable elements were used.

The statues of King Ludwig the Bavarian on the west facade and Henry the Lion on the east facade have been preserved.

The Ballroom: Late Gothic Dance House

Altes Rathaus großer Saal, Foto: Stadt München
Foto: Stadt München

The ballroom on the second floor of the Old Town Hall, also known as the "Tanzhaus", is impressive for its ornate wooden ceiling alone.
The late Gothic room with its barrel vaulting by master carpenter Hans Wengler is one of the architectural masterpieces of Munich's Gothic style.

The ceiling was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, but was subsequently restored in great detail. Various wood carvings and coats of arms of Bavarian noble families such as the House of Wittelsbach are embedded in it.

Today, the hall serves as a place of representation for the city council and the mayor, but also ceremonies, commemorations or award ceremonies are held here.

Building history: The Old Town Hall in former times

The Old Town Hall partly developed out of the old Leonine city fortifications of Munich. It followed the town hall construction of 1310, when the Talburg Gate was transformed into the 56-meter-high town hall tower.

From 1392 to 1394, a large hall completed the construction, and in 1460 the building ensemble was struck by lightning and burned down. Thus it came about that the Munich master builder Jörg von Halspach, also known as Ganghofer, implemented the design of a late Gothic town hall from 1470.

In the following centuries, the town hall was redesigned in many different ways in the Baroque, Renaissance and Historicist styles. Only the dance hall was always spared.

After the city administration moved to the New City Hall in 1874, the Old City Hall now served representative purposes. At that time, the first floor was also replaced by a passageway and pedestrian passage from Marienplatz to the valley.

The Toy Museum: Memories of the toys of yesteryears

Model trains, stuffed animals, dolls and tin toys - the tower of the Old Town Hall is full of historical toys. It has been home to the Toy Museum since 1983.
This is perfect for a family afternoon, because not only children have fun here. Adults also get shining eyes when they rediscover their former dollhouse in the showcase.

The toy museum is open daily from 10 am to 5:30 pm.

Admission prices:
Adults: 6 euros
Children up to 17 years: 2 Euro
Families (2 adults with up to 3 children): 12 euros

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