Munich's present neo-Gothic town hall was built in three sections and two phases between 1867 and 1908. It was a nessesary enlargement on the nearby Old Town Hall, but city fathers also saw it as presenting Munich as a modern city, independent from the waning powers of the Bavarian Wittelsbach royal house. Architectural historians are divided over its merits, although its dramatic scale and lavish detailing are impressive. Perhaps the most serious criticism is that the
Dutch and Flemish styles of the building seem out of place amid the baroque and rococo styles of parts of the Altstadt. The main tower's 1908-finished glockenspiel (a chiming clock with mechanical figures), the largest in Germany, plays daily at 11 am, noon, and 9 pm, with an additional performance at 5 pm March–October. As chimes peal out over the square, the clock's doors flip open and brightly colored dancers and jousting knights act out two events from Munich's past: a tournament held in Marienplatz in 1568 and the Schäfflertanz (Dance of the Coopers), which commemorated the end of the plague of 1515–17. You, too, can travel up there, by elevator, to an observation point near the top of one of the towers. On a clear day the view across the city and the Alps behind is spectacular.
Neues Rathaus, Marienpl. 8, Munich, 80331, Germany
May 31, 2004
The NR is an impressive building, and the glockenspiel something to behold. But like many monuments, this one has borne the brunt of weather and air polution. It's darkened exterior is badly in need of cleaning to return the building to it's former glory.