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Oct. 20, 2018: Munich's Rathaus Glockenspiel


An unsuspecting mid-day visitor to Munich's Marienplatz at the center of the Old City, the Altstadt, might be puzzled to see the crowds in the square standing, motionless, staring upwards.


But it wouldn't take long to follow their gaze and realize they're staring at one of Munich's signature attractions: the Glockenspiel animated figures on the tower of the Rathaus, the City Hall. The whole animated show happens daily at 11 am and 5 pm, with an extra show at noon in the summer.

P1110652The show, which features 32 life-size figures and 43 bells, starts on the upper level, where the king presides as his knights on horseback joust with their lances; the winner of each bout is (apparently) knocked from his horse. Actually, they are mounted on two concentric tracks to give the appearance of coming at each other.


After the knights are finished, the lower level becomes active, with costumed figures dancing in a circle for several minutes; they are the city's Guild of Coopers, who supposedly helped the city through a medieval plague epidemic by dancing through the streets. And last, but not least, when all is done, a golden rooster, above the stages, crows three times.


Although everything about it has an ancient feel, like the astronomical clocks and animated figures of other cities, but it's actually a bit of a sham. The Rathaus, with its ornate 'ancient' facade was actually built in two stages starting in the 1850s and ending in 1907; the glockenspiel was created for the tower, which was last to be built.


If you look around carefully on the corners of the tower, looking out at the glockenspiel and the audience, there are also a couple of sets of non-moving figures, the mother and child above, and the stalking cat below. At least we were told it's a stalking cat. Hard to tell, no?



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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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