MUNICH GLOCKENSPIEL: Every day Munich’s central Marienplatz square is crammed with onlookers with their chins aimed skywards.
They’re watching one of the city’s most loved oddities, the Glockenspiel, or carillon.
This chiming clock was added to the tower of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) the year the building was completed in 1907.
It's two levels play out
scenes from Munich's
history. Nagy / Presseamt
At 11am and midday (and 5pm between March and October) the Munich Glockenspiel recounts a royal wedding, jousting tournament and ritualistic dance - all events which have etched a mark on Munich’s popular folklore.
The show lasts about 15 minutes and concludes with the golden bird up the top emerging and chirping three times. Different tunes are played on the clock’s 43 bells.
To get a better view of what’s going on head up to the third or fourth floor of the Hugendubel bookstore
across the square.
THE GROOM: Wilhelm V's wedding
is played out on the Munich Glockenspiel.
The top level recounts the 1568 wedding of Duke Wilhelm V
(1548-1626) and Renata of Lorraine
(1544–1602), one of the most expensive and downright decadent weddings of the Middle Ages.
It was a huge dynastic deal, the Austrian archdukes arrived in a train of over 1500 horses and more than 600 oxen were carved and cooked up for the revellers.
On the day of the nuptials the bride was collected from the nearby town of Dachau by no less than 3500 mounted riders.
The whole party lasted about two weeks.
The crowd highlight was the Kröndlstechen
, or crown joust, which took place right on Marienplatz and is now a big part of the Glockenspiel show.
A well-named bloke called Caspar Nothaft von Wernberg zu Alhaming
was declared the overall winner.
He’d reportedly “injured several fingers on his left hand, but not before unhorsing four riders”.
The Munich Glockenspiel shows a Bavarian knight battling a French jouster and as you'd expect the Bavarian always wins.
The groom, Wilhelm V, became famous as the man who founded the famous Hofbrauhaus
, and rather infamous for leading massive witch hunts across his domain.
On the lower level you can see the red-coated city’s coopers (barrel makers) do a ritualistic jig known as the Schäfflertanz
. The dance is popularly thought to have begun in the devastating plague year of 1517, but it actually dates back further.
Legend says the coopers started the dance to give Munich’s residents the all-clear that the plague was done and dusted. The Bavarian duke Wilhelm IV ordered the dance be re-enacted every seven years to keep the deadly disease in the collective memory.
The next Schäfflertanz, performed by guys in the same old-fashioned get up, will be in February 2019! You can see a couple of cooper statues in more detail at the entrance to Schäffler Strasse, west of the Marienhof park
at the back of the Neues Rathaus.
There’s also a mini-show at 9pm, when two figures appear from the bays below the clock face. On one side there’s the Angel of Peace
blessing the Münchner Kindl
, the Munich’s child-monk mascot.
On the other side a night watchman appears, sounding the city curfew on his horn.
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