The Best of Munich: Marienplatz

The steeple and statue of St. Mary at Marienplatz town hall
The steeple and statue of St. Mary at Marienplatz town hall

New York has Times Square, and London has Piccadilly Circus (and some other spots). These two city centers exist to collect large crowds, mostly for the purpose of selling them something.

Marienplatz in Munich would instead rather show them something.

Marienplatz is the city center of Munich, and contains plenty of the city’s historical and beautiful buildings. You’ll get culture, religion, food, drink, and shopping all in one spot.  You can go to church, visit the Apple Store, get drunk, and eat dinner all within about the space of two football fields.

Most notable at Marienplatz is the Neues Rathaus (new town hall), which you might mistake for a church with its gothic style and tall steeple. Instead, this is a several-hundred-year-old multipurpose building. It houses several city offices, a few small businesses, the tourism office, and of course the bomb-shelter-turned-restaurant called Ratskeller.   This rather upscale restaurant takes up most of the basement of the building, and is easy to get lost in. Luckily, they have plenty of food, drink, and great company.

While you’re outside the town hall, you’ll see real the main attraction of the building: the Glockenspiel. Besides being one of the most entertaining words to say in German, it is also an entertaining show. Picture a cuckoo clock display that has gotten way out of hand, and lasts for about 15 minutes.

Out in front of town hall in the center of the square you’ll find the Mariensaule, a.k.a. the column of St. Mary. Atop the column is a golden statue of Mary. It’s a beautiful statue, but you will need a zoom lens to see it way up there.

The central square is filled with activity, especially on the weekends.   Concerts, markets, and the famous Christmas Market take place on the square.

shopping around Marienplatz
shopping around Marienplatz

Wandering a bit west and north from the central square of Marienplatz, you’ll find some great shopping (Zara, H&M, The Body Shop, Apple Store), and of course places to drink (Kilians Irish Pub, Augustiner). Eventually, you’ll find the second huge structure of the Marienplatz: Frauenkirsche. You can stumble to this place from the Augustiner.

Frauenkirsche looks like, and is, a huge gothic style church. Even the massive doors of this place are intimidating. Frauenkirsche, which is Catholic, holds up to 20,000 people. Surprisingly, it is actually smaller in size than two other churches in Ulm and Cologne.   Standing in this place, you would never guess they could build a bigger one.

Marienplatz is easily accessible from anywhere in Munich via cab, bus, or subway. All three of these modes will drop you right in front of the town hall.

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