Lonely Planet review
The heart and soul of the Altstadt, Marienplatz, is a popular gathering spot and packs a lot of personality into its relatively small frame. It's anchored by the Mariensäule (Mary's Column), built in 1638 to celebrate victory over Swedish forces during the Thirty Years' War; it's topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary balancing on a crescent moon.
At 11:00 and noon (also 17:00 March to October), the square jams up with tourists craning their necks to take in the animated Glockenspiel (carillon) in the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), a neo-Gothic fantasy festooned with gargoyles, statues and a dragon scaling the turrets; the tourist office is on the ground floor. For pinpointing Munich's landmarks without losing your breath, catch the lift up the 85m-tall tower.
The carillon has 43 bells and 32 figures that perform two actual historic events. The top half tells the story of a knight's tournament held in 1568 to celebrate the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lothringen, while the bottom half portrays the Schäfflertanz. If you want to see the show at eye level, head to the top floor of the Hugendubel bookstore or snag a table at the Café Glockenspiel.