Munich’s Famous Rathaus Glockenspiel

image of Munich Rathaus Glockenspiel

Three times a day, tourists gather at Marienplatz in front of the Rathaus Glockenspiel, patiently awaiting for the bells to chime and the figurines of the famous Munich Glockenspiel to tell stories from Munich’s history. It’s best to bring along a tripod if you’re planning to take a video of the entire show as your arms won’t last that long in that position ! The show lasts about 15 minutes and starts at 11am , 12pm and 5pm daily.

Top half of the Rathaus Glockenspiel show

There are 43 bells and 32 figures in the Glockenspiel. The top half recounts the extravagant and outrageously expensive marriage of Willian V, Duke of Bavaria to Renata of Lorraine in 1568. Believe it or not. but the bride was escorted to Munich by no less than 3500 mounted riders and 600 oxen were served to the hungry guests! The main event of the 2 week party was a joust which took place on Marienplatz and is the highlight of the Glockenspiel show.  The mechanical Bavarian jouster in blue triumps over the French Lothingren jouster dressed in red. Of course !  Wait for it when the horses come round the second time.

Lower half of the Glockenspiel show

The bottom half of the Glockenspiel shows the traditional Dance of the Coopers (Schäfflerstanz). The dance is tied to the 1517 plague when the coppers (barrel makers) danced a foot slapping dance to encourage the frightened residents back into the streets. Finally at the end of the show, a golden bird at the top chirps and the show ends.

If you find it strenous to tilt your head up at that angle for so long, try heading up to the third floor of the Hugendubel bookshop to view it although there might be other people there too. There’s a nice cafe anyway in the bookshop and a place to keep warm if you are there in winter.

After watching the show, you might want to wander down to the Hofbrauhaus am Platz, a traditional Bavarian beer house which was founded in 1589 by the groom Wiliam V and is Munich’s oldest beer house.


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