Marienplatz is the central square in Old Town, Munich’s urban heart and the central point of the pedestrian zone.
To the north is the magnificent neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (“New Town Hall”), to the east the Altes Rathaus (“Old Town Hall”), and the passageway to Tal and the Viktualienmarkt (farmers’ market). To the south, the square is bordered by stores, office buildings, and restaurants. To the west, the pedestrian zone opens to Kaufingerstraße, which ends at the Karlstor (gate) located at the square known by locals as Stachus.
The heart of Munich
Marienplatz has been the center of Munich since it was founded in 1158 and is the heart of the city. In the first few centuries, the approximately 100 x 50 meter large area was used as the central marketplace, which is attested to today by the fish fountain on the northeast corner of Marienplatz. In 1638 Elector Maximilian I had the Mariensäule (Mary’s Column) erected in gratitude for the city being spared during the Thirty Years’ War; Marienplatz takes its name from the Mariensäule. The column is used as a reference point in land surveying as the topological center of Bavaria. Today Marienplatz is a center for festivities and political, cultural, or sports events. During Advent, Munich’s oldest traditional Christmas market (“Christkindlmarkt”) takes place here.
The Munich Glockenspiel in the tower balcony of the Neues Rathaus is also world famous and worth seeing. Since 1908, figurines representing stories from Munich’s history twirl on two levels daily at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. (the 5:00 p.m. show is omitted from November through February).
As part of the pedestrian zone, Marienplatz is completely traffic-calmed. Under the square, however, on four levels is the central train station for the S-Bahn (street car) main line and the north-south line on Munich’s subway, the U-Bahn. Aboveground on the east side of Marienplatz are two bus lines.