Ready to tie your walking shoes again?

GREAT – let’s get started! Today I’ll show you one of our two city centers – Marienplatz! It’s a spot in Munich I always like to go to … I guess because it has a very special atmosphere, an intriguing mixture of old and new! Of course there are stories to tell you as well … so – here you go!

From the “Isartor” which I showed you last time, it is about a fifteen-minute walk, straight ahead all the time – impossible to miss! The first feature you will notice is of course the municipality … the NEW municipality that is! Now I have to confuse you a bit … the OLD is there as well, maybe some fifty meters away – but the old one looks NEWER that the actual new one! Why? Because it was restored to old beauty after having been destroyed during the second world war! They started fixing it in 1953 … and finally finished in 1972 with the reconstruction of the old tower to the look it had in 1462! It’s a beauty, no doubt …
The NEW municipality was built in the same gothic style as the old one – from 1867 to 1908. It’s a great idea – in case you’re reasonably in shape – to climb up the stairs to the 90 m high tower … the view from there is spectacular!!

Should you happen to be there during the later morning hours, you will notice close to 11:00 o’clock a sudden accumulation of people there, all of them staring up the tower … and waiting! A weird sight, I admit … but these folks are waiting for something very special to start – the “Glockenspiel” or “chime of bells”! Every day at 11:00, then again at 12:00 – and during the summer-months (May till October) as well at 17:00! It memorizes a tournament of knights which took place during the wedding of King Wilhelm the fifth with Renata of Lothringen in 1568!
A very special experience is as well the so-called “Schäfflertanz” … a dance of barrel-makers which does have a historical background! You possibly know that during the 16. century there was a devastating pandemic of Bubonic Plague which lasted for years and claimed millions of lives! Naturally people were terrified to even peek out of their houses … and finally, after all those years of fear, it was a group of these barrel-makers which decided to get back to life and to encourage people to do the same! This tradition is active till today – every seven years barrel-makers travel around, performing the very same dance! I saw it last year and assure you, I was highly impressed! They have a break now – till 2012 – and then they’ start all over again!

Two structures I still owe you … first the St. Mary’s column which was erected in 1638 by the very devout catholic Duke Maximilian the first who had made a solemn pledge to do so if Munich and Landshut, which is some sixty km to the north of Munich, would be spared the horrors of the 30-year long war with Sweden which lasted from 1618 till 1648 !
The second is the so-called fish-fountain, a very popular meeting-point for travellers and natives alike! Is goes back to the second half of the 19th century. Back then the trainees for butchery jumped in head-first after having finished their apprenticeship and were then allowed to call themselves “butchers”! Today, as popular superstition, people go there on Ash Wednesday and wash their empty wallets in the fountain … it is said to bring wealth! I have never tried it … on second thought I probably should – I’ll let you know if it helped!

On one of the pictures you see the top of the Cathedral-towers – this will be out next destination!


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