Visit the Marienplatz to see and hear the Glockenspiel!
Marienplatz has been Munich’s main square since the year 1158! This is where the most important Christmas market in Munich takes place as well.
The main reason people visit Marienplatz is to see the Glockenspiel. Built in 1908 about halfway up the central tower of the “New City Hall” (the main building in the background) they obviously had visitors in mind here! Every day at 11 AM, noon, and 5 PM thousands of tourists come to the Marienplatz just to see this reenactment of a medieval wedding and jousting tournament. The Glockenspiel has two levels. The upper level (the top half of the Glockenspiel) tells the story of the marriage of the Bavarian Duke Wilhelm V (the same guy that founded the Hofbräuhaus) to Renata of Lorraine in 1568. The upper level of the Glockenspiel shows the jousting tournament that was held to celebrate the wedding. The knights in white and blue represent Bavaria, while those in red and white are for Lorraine. Not surprisingly, the Bavarian knights win every time!
Once the jousting is over, you turn your attention to the lower level of the Glockenspiel. This part of the show features the Schäfflertanz (the coopers’ dance). Bavarian legend says that, during the plague year of 1517, the coopers’ guild danced through the streets to raise the morale of the people of Munich. This dance came to symbolize perseverance even during hard times, and it is still performed in Munich (every 7 years: next show is 2019!)
At the end of the show, that golden rooster up at the top crows three times, to let you know “that’s all, folks!”
How to get here: Take the S1 or the S8 from the airport, or ANY U-Bahn line. Get off at the Marienplatz station (it’s one of those large white rectangles.) The station is directly beneath Marienplatz, so as soon as you come out of the station, you’re there!