Marienplatz was named after the Mariensäule, a Marian column erected in its centre in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation. Today the Marienplatz is dominated by the New City Hall (Neues Rathaus) on the north side, and the Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus, a reconstructed gothic council hall with a ballroom and tower) on the east side.
In the Middle Ages, markets and tournaments were held in this city square. It used to be called Markth (market), Schranne (grain market) and later Schrannenplatz (grain market square). After said grain market was moved into the modern glass-and-iron Schranne near "Blumenstrasse" in 1853, the square received its new name, starting 9. October 1854. The Glockenspiel in the tower of the new city hall was inspired by these tournaments, and draws millions of tourists a year. Furthermore, the pedestrian zone between Karlsplatz and Marienplatz is a crowded area with numerous shops and restaurants.
The Mariensäule is a Marian column located on the Marienplatz in Munich, Germany. Mary is revered here as Patrona Bavariae (Latin: Protector of Bavaria). It was erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years' War, to be precise, following a respective vow by Duke Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria if the ducal residential cities of Munich and Landshut would be spared from war destruction. The column is topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary standing on a crescent moon as the Queen of Heaven, created in 1590. The figure was originally located in the Frauenkirche. Mariensäule in Munich was the first column of this type built north of the Alps and inspired erecting other Marian columns in this part of Europe.
At each corner of the column's pedestal is a statue of a putto, created by Ferdinand Murmann. The four putti are each depicted fighting a different beast, symbolizing the city's overcoming of adversities: war represented by the lion, pestilence by the cockatrice, hunger or famine by the dragon and heresy by the serpent.
Three weeks before Christmas the Christkindlmarkt opens at Marienplatz and other squares in the city, selling Christmas goods and food and drink.