Marienplatz Munich

Marienplatz Munich is the heart of Munich’s old town and it is also the city’s most important square. Annually, many events, such as the Munich Christmas market, take place here.

Marienplatz has been the most central of Munich’s squares ever since the founding of the city by Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria, in 1158.

Throughout centuries, the square has been a center for social life, and also, from the beginning, a marketplace. To ensure the square’s use as a marketplace, in fact, it was declared “forever” free from buildings by Ludwig IV in 1315.

Marienplatz square as seen from Peterskirche church tower

PHOTO: Marienplatz, as seen from Sankt-Peter-Kirche’s observation platform, from the height of 56 meters (183 ft) (there are 306 steps on the staircase leading up to the platform).

Mariensaule Munich Germany

PHOTO: Central to Marienplatz (which is a total of 100 m (328 ft) in length and 50 m (164 ft) in width) is the Mariensäule column. The column portrays Virgin Mary with child Jesus. Virgin Mary is also known as “Patrona Bavariae”, the guardian saint of Bavaria.

Virgin Mary and baby Jesus statue Marienplatz Munich Germany

PHOTO: Closeup of Virgin Mary with a Jesus child sculpture, on top of the Mariensäule column.

Mariensaule column cherub and dragon Munich Germany

PHOTO: At the base of the column, there are four cherubs, allegorical to guarding Munich. These cherubs fight against…lion (allegorical to “war“), basilisk (“plague“), dragon (pictured, “hunger“), and snake (“faithlessness“).

Fischbrunnen Munich Germany

PHOTO: Fischbrunnen (Fish fountain) is a reference to when Marienplatz was the central marketplace of Munich…before the nearby Viktualienmarkt was opened (in 1807).

Historically, the square was divided into sections, depending on what was sold at that section. For example, fish market was done around theFischbrunnen.

The square also had significant political meaning over time.

For example, Mariensäule column, commissioned by Duke Maximilian I in 1638, is a memorial to the city being saved from destruction through the thirty-year war, despite being under Swedish control.

Latin text on the base of the column tells of the gratitude towards Virgin Mary, the guardian saint of Bavaria:

The most good great God, God’s Virgin mother, an all-powerful protector, saved Bavarian homes, villages, army, families, and hopes, for which his servant, gratefully, among them Maximilian, Duke of Lower and Upper Bavaria and Holy Roman Empire and an elected ruler, humbly let build various monuments, in 1638.

The square has several of the most famous buildings in Munich, including:

  • Georg von Hauberrisser’s Munich’s Neue Rathaus (from 1909),
  • Jorg von Halsbach’s Alte Rathaus (from 15th century), and
  • the stylish Kaufhof ( department store.

The square houses public celebrations through the year, especially after major sports victories for the city’s teams or other achievements.

Square highlights include an mechanical carillon at the Neue Rathaus tower, which portrays events from Munich history.

The carillon show happens daily at 11am, 12 (midday), and 5pm (5pm show is cancelled through November-February).

Marienplatz also has the no.1 Christmas market in Munich, the “Christkindlmarkt”.

Marienplatz Munich Christmas market opens on the first advent and stays open until Christmas eve.

Also, every 7 years, the square is the location for Schäfflertanz, an event started during 1517 plague epidemic, to bring joy into the dark daily existence at the time.

Marienplatz Munich

Address: Marienplatz, 80331 Munich, Germany

One highlight of the Schäfflertanz is its “court jester“, with one of the local Munich celebrities always chosen for the part.

Schäfflertanz is also one of the events portrayed at the Neue Rathaus’ carillon.