If you are looking for the heartbeat of Munich, look no further than its central square and key focal point since the city's foundingin 1158 - Marienplatz (Mary's Square). Probably the most popular meeting point in the city (by the fountain is a popular spot), many of the city's walking tours start here, and as a place to start your Munich journey, it has perhaps no equal; to the west, the pedestrian shopping zone all the way to Karlsplatz and the main train station; to the south the delightful Viktualienmarkt; to the east Tal and Isartor; and to the north, Odeonsplatz, the Hofbräuhaus, opera house and luxury shopping heaven that is Maximilianstrasse.
Some of the busiest times of the day are 11:00 and 12:00, as well as 17:00 from March to October, when the famous Glockenspiel strikes up in front of hundreds of tourists in the tower of the New Town Hall, a 15-minute show, depicting scenes from former times in Munich, including a royal wedding, jousting and ritual dancing. Can't make it to Marienplatz at the right time? Check it out in the video below.
Used over the centuries as a trading centre, the square takes its name from Mariensäule, the Marian column erected in its centre to mark the end of Swedish occupation in 1638. The new Town Hall is the most dominant buiding in Marienplatz these days, but spare a thought for the old town hall on its eastern side, (Altes Rathaus), complete with reconstructed Gothic ballroom, council hall and tower.
Of course if you come in winter, the atmosphere will be completely different, as more than 3 million people visit the famous Christkindlmarkt, a cosy way to enter the Christmas spirit, with plenty of stalls, treats, and of course, glühwein. Check out the atmosphere in the video below.
Marienplatz can be reached by U3 and U6 and by S-Bahn.