Munich is a German city located in the state of Bavaria. Munich’s unique selling point (USP) is that it combines the facilities of a modern city with a rich cultural history and diversity. In Munich, you will find beautiful state of the art buildings, roads, infrastructure and other modern facilities. If you are visiting Munich for a day, then this is the perfect itinerary for you.
If you are staying in Munich for more than a day, consider my 7 day itinerary to Munich
Marienplatz or Mary’s Square is a historic and a popular tourist square, located in the heart of Munich in Germany. There are lots of historical monuments, events and traditions that are located in and around Marienplatz. This post will highlight 15 things that you can see in and around Marienplatz. And all for free. Each of these historic spots can be explored on foot.
Free Walking Tour Munich Marienplatz
Whether you are flying to Munich or arriving from another European country, in order to reach Marienplatz you will either have to drive or take a S-Bahn trains to reach Mary’s square. It is a 50 minute train ride from Munich Airport to Mary’s Square or Marienplatz. There is a train station of the same name, where you have to get down.
Once you are at the Mary’s square, you can either explore using my 15 lists of things to do in Marienplatz (they are all free) or take a free walking tour.
Sandeman’s New Europe tours offers free walking tours of Old Munich. They are free tours, for real. The ambassadors are very knowledgeable and engaging. We did our Munich walking tour in the afternoon (at 2:30 pm local time) and we were done at 4:30 pm. The walking tours are good way to orient yourself with the city and its history. Although free, please acknowledge the guide’s time and efforts.
What to see in Munich in one day: Things to do in Marienplatz
1. Marienplatz or Mary’s Square:
Marienplatz is the heart of the city of Munich. Since 1158, this has been the city’s main square. Its a must visit when you arrive in Munich. The square has a column called the Marian column, that was built in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation.
Day or night Marienplatz is full of activities and bustling with energy. We have visited the square both at day and night time and loved it equally.
2. Townhalls at Marienplatz:
There are 2 town-halls that are worth seeing by Marienplatz.
The town-hall pictured below is the Old Town Hall, that was built in the 15th century in Gothic style. This building was completely destroyed in the 2nd World War and was later restored. Its home to a toy museum right now.
As soon as you exit the subway stairs, you are welcomed to the view of this Old Town Hall.
The New Town Hall is located by the Mary’s Column. A huge Gothic style building, the new town hall is home to the Rathaus-Glockenspiel of Munich. Its a miniature knight show, where every day at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. the watch tower chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th century. This lasts for 12 – 15 minutes.
Here is another look of the interiors of the New Town Hall. Is n’t it pretty?
We actually walked around this area for about an hour or so, admiring the beautiful work of art.
3. Church of Old Lady/ Munich Frauenkirche/Devil’s Footstep:
Located very close to Marienplatz is the Church of Old Lady. This church used to be the burial place of the Wittelsbach (The Wittelsbach family is a European royal family and a German dynasty from Bavaria)
An image from inside the church.
Teufelstritt, or Devil’s Footstep
An attraction, within the church complex is the Teufelstritt, or Devil’s Footstep, at the entrance. This is a black mark resembling a footprint, which according to legend was where the devil stood when he ridiculed the ‘windowless’ church that Halsbach had built.
4. Michael Jackson Memorial:
Located a few blocks from the Church of Old Lady is a “make-shift” Michael Jackson Memorial site. This memorial is located across the 5 star Hotel Bayerischer Hof, where MJ once stayed. The memorial is based at the statue of a Renaissance composer – Orlande de Lassus.
The statue is adorned with fresh flowers, candles, photos of MJ and hand written notes. One of the notes, says (in German), “you will live in our hearts forever”
5. Fünf Höfe (Shopping mall):
The Fünf Höfe is a shopping arcade near Marienplatz. Its popular for its “hanging gardens” inside.
Odeonplatz is a large public square, that was built in the 19th century. You can reach Odeonplatz via subway (there is a subway stop of the same name).
Its located to the north of Marienplatz and is also closer to the Munich Residenz.
The image below is of the Feldherrnhalle. It was commissioned in 1841 by King Ludwig I of Bavaria to honor the tradition of his army. Its modeled after the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. You will see 2 Bavarian lions in the structure, one of which stands with its mouth open and other with mouth closed. This symbolizes the importance of speaking against the rulers but not the church.
This square has been the site of many events and struggles including Hitler’s failed “Putsch” attempt in 1923 (Beer Hall Putsch).
When you face the Feldherrnhalle, the Munich Residenz is to your left and the Theatine Church of St. Cajetan is to your right.
7. Theatine Church:
The Theatine Church of St. Cajetan is a Catholic church built in the 17th century.
The church was built in Italian high-Baroque style. Its Mediterranean appearance and bright yellow color became a popular symbol for the city and had much influence on Southern German Baroque architecture.
8. Munich Residenz
Located on the Max-Joseph Platz, the Munich Residenz was the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs of the House of Wittelsbach.
9. Opera House on Max- Joseph Platz:
Max-Joseph-Platz is another large square in Munich. It was built in the 19th century with the opening of the National Theatre Munich at its east side (1818). The National Theater is a historic opera house, home of the Bavarian State Opera, Bavarian State Orchestra and the Bavarian State Ballet.
The statue that you see here is the memorial of King Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria, with the National Theatre at the background.
10. A street opposite to Theatinerstraße:
Theatinerstraße is a street in Munich that stretches from the Odeonsplatz south to the Marienhof. It was on the Theatinerstraße (street) that SS guards would watch people and see if they salute their leader. They would stop the people who would not pay respect or salute. So the locals tried to take this lane that was opposite to the Theatinerstraße to avoid any questioning from the SS guards.
Soon the SS guards came to know about this and they would stop the people and punish/kill them for disobeying the leader. This cobblestone street is remembered in the memory of those who lost their lives here.
11. Hofbrauhaus (Royal Brewery):
The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl is the royal beer hall in Munich. The beer hall dates back to 1589. Munich’s largest tourist attraction after the Oktoberfest, the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl is also very popular amongst the locals.
I took this image of the beer-hall from a Starbucks cafe 🙂 This street is lined with stores, restaurants and coffee houses.
12. Alter Hof (Old Court, Monkey Tower):
The Alter Hof (Old Court) was the first residence of the Wittelsbach family, who ruled over Bavaria until the outbreak of the First World War.
The oriel window that you see here is known as the Monkey Tower. A legendary tale associated to the tower states that a baby was carried off by a monkey who belonged to the court, and he later became the Emperor Ludwig IV.
13. Church of the Holy Spirit:
Church of the Holy Spirit or Heilig-Geist-Kirche is a 14th century church, built in Gothic style. This church’s interior is decorated with sculptures and beautiful paintings and frescoes.
14. St Peter’s Church:
St Peter’s Church (Peterskirche) is the oldest church in Munich. Its a Roman Catholic church built in 12th century. Designed by a monk, its presumably the originating point for the whole city.
The city’s German name, München, is derived from the word Mönch (munich in Old High German), which means monk.
The church has an observation tower, which is 91 meters high and is commonly known as “Alter Peter” – Old Pete.
This is the view of Munich from the observation tower. You have to walk 306 steps to reach this and its breathtaking!
15. Viktualienmarkt (Food Marketplace):
The Viktualienmarkt (means victuals market) is a daily food market located near Marienplatz. It developed from an original farmers’ market to a popular market for gourmets. This area also houses a Biergarten.
This marketplace dates back to 1807. It was built to replace a much smaller market to fulfill the needs of the growing city.
Munich has lots of history and beautiful architecture. So when you decide to go some-place-new, and its Munich, dont forget to visit these amazing historical and modern gems.
By taking this tour and/or by exploring Marienplatz, you will get to discover Munich’s past and also enjoy a wonderful day with some German beer and schnitzel. The old town of Munich is filled with restaurants, shopping centres and souvenir stores. Mary’s square also has live music performances in the the evening
Munich was our first European city that we visited and for that reason this city will be memorable forever.
If you are planning a trip to Europe and it is your first time, read our Europe Planning Guide – Europe Planning 101
Looking for Hotels in Munich? Check out these deals!
Last Update: Aug 09 2018
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