Neues Rathaus - The Munich Town Hall
GOTHICA: Munich's New Town Hall is one of Germany's most distinctive buildings.
NEUES RATHAUS:The big daddy of Marienplatz is the splendiferous Neues Rathaus, a structure with the power to turn people who don’t give a damn about architecture into ardent fans.
It’s simply a feast for the eyes. There's something new to notice in virtually every square metre of the neo-gothic edifice.
Even though I must have seen it 100 times I still swing by Marienplatz whenever I can just to gawk.
All in the details
The "play of bells"
Click here for Destination Munich's in-depth and illustrated story about the Munich Glockenspiel
The Neues Rathaus was built from 1867 to 1908 out of a simple need for more civic offices. Its
elaborate façade rises over a grand arched arcade at ground level.There are statues-galore on the upper storeys – paupers, gargoyles and dragons hustle for attention with kings, dukes, and prince electors.
Turrets line the gables and a grand clock tower, adorned with a world famous Glockenspiel
, soars above it all.
Seat of power
NIGHTSHADE: The town hall looks great after
dusk. Photo by Jametiks
Officially, the Neues Rathaus is where Munich’s Lord Mayor grinds away for the benefit of the citizenry.
Since 1993 that’s been Christian Ude from the left-of-centre Social Democratic Party (SPD).
He’s known as a progressive with a satirical sense of humour who occasionally moonlights as a comedian (no kidding!).
The building has other uses – there are shops and a Tourist Information Centre in the ground-floor arcade.
Wander into the central courtyards to find
the Ratskeller, a traditional restaurant where you can sample typical Bavarian fare.
Just like old times
(the official English word for this is “carillon”) springs to life at 11am and 12pm (and at 5pm from March to October).
The Carillon re-enacts scenes from Munich’s history as more than 40 bells chime away.
There are two levels to it - the top one shows the 1568 wedding
of Duke Wilhelm V and Renata von Lorraine. It features a French jouster fighting a Bavarian one. No prizes for guessing the outcome. Wilhelm and Renatas' was one of the most expensive weddings of the Middle Ages where, among over things, over 500 oxen were eaten!
SMAUG: This dragon is among the most popular embellishments on the building.
On the bottom level the “Schäfflertanz” is played out, that's a jig traditionally performed by Munich’s red-coated coopers (barrel makers).
The city's real coopers repeat this dance every seven years to celebrate the end of the Plague which devastated Munich in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The next Schäfflertanz is due in 2019.
To the top
At the very top of the 85m tower stands a small statue of the Münchener Kindl
, the monk-child symbol of the city.
From April to November you can take an elevator to a viewing platform on the ninth floor of the tower.
Location: Marienplatz 8
Phone: 089 2 33 00
Open: Tower viewing platform open November to April, Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm. May to October open daily from 10am to 7pm.
Directions: Take any S-Bahn or U-Bahn no. 3 or 6 to Marienplatz.
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