Karlsplatz and the medieval Karlstor (a gate) form the western entrance to the Altstadt and the pedestrianised shopping precinct along Neuhauser Strasse and Kaufinger Strasse. The busy square was laid out in 1791 as an ego project of the highly unpopular Elector Karl Theodor.

When he named it for himself, locals were even less impressed and insisted on referring to the square as Stachus, possibly in memory of a pub that had been displaced by the square's construction. The huge fountain in the centre is a favoured meeting spot, but Karlsplatz is really at its most magical in winter when an outdoor ice-skating rink brings out young and old.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Munich attractions

1. Justizpalast

0.12 MILES

The 1890s Justizpalast witnessed the Weisse Rose trial of Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst on 22 February 1943. They were condemned to…

2. Michaelskirche

0.19 MILES

It stands quiet and dignified amid the retail frenzy out on Kaufingerstrasse, but to fans of Ludwig II, the Michaelskirche is the ultimate place of…

3. Alter Botanischer Garten


The Old Botanical Garden is a pleasant place to soothe soles and souls after an Altstadt shopping spree or to see out a long wait for a train away from…

4. Asamkirche

0.32 MILES

Though pocket sized, the late-baroque Asamkirche, built in 1746, is as rich and epic as a giant's treasure chest. Its creators, the brothers Cosmas Damian…

5. Frauenkirche

0.35 MILES

The landmark Frauenkirche, built between 1468 and 1488, is Munich's spiritual heart and the Mt Everest among its churches. No other building in the…

6. Fünf Höfe


Munich usually feels more cosy than cosmopolitan, but one exception is the Fünf Höfe, a ritzy shopping arcade whose modernist design is as interesting as…

7. Münchner Stadtmuseum

0.41 MILES

Installed for the city's 850th birthday (2008), the Münchner Stadtmuseum's Typisch München (Typically Munich) exhibition – taking up the whole of a…

8. Antikensammlungen

0.42 MILES

This old-school museum is an engaging showcase of exquisite Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. The collection of Greek vases, each artistically…