Sunday, October 12, 2014

Munich - Rathaus Munchen

Date of visit: 14th April 2014

In my opinion, the 147 year old Rathaus Munchen is a bit similar in it’s look to the 142 year old Rathaus Vienna. Both were built in a grandeur Gothic style for the same building function, i.e. a city hall. This New Town Hall, or in German is called Neues Rathaus is a town hall at the northern part of Marienplatz in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It hosts the city government including the city council, offices of the mayors and part of the city administration. The municipality shifted to the new complex in 1874 from the Old Town Hall, seated just across for its new domicile.

The most visible difference that I spotted, between the 2 is the famous show, Rathaus-Glockenspiel which attached in the main tower of Rathaus Munchen. It is a main tourist attraction in Marienplatz, where the whole show takes about 12 and 15 minutes long depending on which tune it plays on the day that you visited. At the very end of the show, a very small golden rooster at the top of the Glockenspiel chirps quietly three times, marking the end of the spectacle show. The show dates from 1908 when part of the 2nd construction phase of the New Town Hall begun. Every day at 11 a.m. (as well as 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. in summer) it chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th century to the amusement of mass crowds of tourists and locals. It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. The top half of the Glockenspiel tells the story of the marriage of the local Duke Wilhelm V (founder of the world famous Hofbrauhaus) to Renata of Lorraine and the second story of Schafflertanz (the coopers' dance). 

Neus Rathaus was built between 1867 and 1908 by Georg von Hauberrisser in a Gothic Revival architecture style. It covers an area of 9159 m² and having 400 rooms. The 100 meters long main facade towards the Marienplatz is richly decorated. It shows the Guelph Duke Henry the Lion, and almost the entire line of the Wittelsbach dynasty in Bavaria and is the largest princely cycle in a German town hall. The central monument in the center of the main facade between the two phases at Marienplatz above the guard house, is an equestrian statue of Prince Regent Luitpold. The bay of the tower contains statues of the first four Bavarian kings.

The main facade is placed toward the plaza, while the back side is adjacent to a small park known as Marienhof. The basement is almost completely occupied by a large restaurant called Ratskeller. On the ground floor, some rooms are rented for small businesses. Also located in the ground floor is the major official tourist information. For the record, we did not enter the huge City Hall but merely hang out at its courtyard which were so so crowded with tourist coming from all over the world.

The first floor hosts a big balcony towards the Marienplatz which is used for large festivals such as football championships or for concerts during the Weihnachtsmarkt. Its main tower has a height of 85 m and is available for visitors with an elevator. On the top thrones the Mnchner Kindl. 

The Old Town Hall (German Altes Rathaus), until 1874 was the domicile of the municipality. Today, it serves as a building for representative purposes for the city council in Munich. The Old Town Hall bounds the central square Marienplatz on its east side.

The building, documented for the first time in 1310, had its Grand Hall constructed in circa 1392/1394. The former Talburg Gate of the first city wall serves as spire. The Old Town Hall was re-designed in late-gothic style by Jorg von Halsbach 1470-1480. The Grand Hall was decorated by the Morris dancers, created by Erasmus Grasser. After alterations of the facade during the Renaissance and again in the Baroque the building was restored in neo-gothic style 1861-1864. In 1874 the municipality moved to the New Town Hall.

For the passage of increased road traffic the Old Town Hall was tunneled in 1877 with a drive-through and a separate pedestrian's passage. On the second attempt in 1934/35, the aftermath construction  finally destroying the original ground floor. During World War II the building was severely damaged and the spire was reconstructed in 1971-1974. Parts of the neo-Gothic elements, especially the statues of Ludwig the Bavarian (west facade) and Henry the Lion (east facade) and the gable design are preserved.

Standing beneath the Talburg Gate

The Grand Hall was the venue for the speech of Joseph Goebbels on November 9, 1938 which is known as the prelude for the Kristallnacht. Kindly take note that my source of reference is majority from the Wikipedia website. We stopped for lunch in a cafe just opposite the Rathaus which serves good quality of food and coffee. You may do the same should you wish to save time. Being a Muslim, we went for a safer vegetarian meal. I'm sharing the photos of the restaurant, Rischart should you wish to stop there for lunch too, or maybe just to enjoy a nice brewed coffee while resting your foot from a long walk in a very long square of Marienplatz.

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