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.