Since Munich was founded in 1158 by Henry the Lion, Marienplatz square has been in the centre of the city. It was the point at which all the most significant streets of the new city met.
You can sit in the shadows of the Neues and Altes Rathaus (New and Old Town Halls) these days and have a relaxing cup of coffee, watching the hustle and bustle around you. It is also the perfect place to start a tour of the shops in the Viktualienmarkt or pedestrian zone. Arrange to meet up at the Fischbrunnen (fountain) in front of the main entrance to the Neues Rathaus if you want to act like a true native of Munich.
You will find the Mariensäule in the centre of Marienplatz (column). A golden statue of the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Bavaria, watches over the city and the state of Bavaria at the top of the column. The center of Munich is the Mariensäule, which is why it is used as a point of departure for signs to the city from other locations. It is also the central point for Catholics: the column was visited by a total of three Popes: Pius VI in 1782, John Paul II in 1980 and Benedict XVI in 2006.
Since 9 October 1854, when it was renamed after the Virgin Mary following a cholera epidemic, Marienplatz has been known by its current name. Before that, according to the South German word for grain, the square was known as Schrannenplatz because of the market that used to be held there. The objective of the new name was to bring the outbreak to an end.
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