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Glockenspiel

The Glockenspiel is a mechanical thingy located on the front of the Rathaus on Marienplatz in Munich, Germany.

Everyday at 11am and 12pm in the winter months and 11am, 12pm and 5pm in the summer months the Glockenspiel starts to chime. The life-sized statues rotate around each other in a mock dance.

Munich is world famous for its Glockenspiel. It is featured in all the guide books to the city. And when it starts to play you'll see hoards of tourists stood on Marienplatz gazing up with their video cameras at the ready.

All this is much to the bemusement of the local residents. Because the Glockenspiel is, in fact, actually exceedingly dull.

If you go to watch it, you will be bored. But that's not going to stop you going nonetheless, is it? No, so you might as well know why it's there so you can impress your friends with the story, because your home video is sure to keep 'em yawning.

The Glockenspiel celebrates two separate events from Munich's past with two levels of mundane clockwork action. The dancers are coopers (barrelmakers) and are depicted doing the Schafflertanz, or "Dance of the Coopers". This is done in memory of the end of the plague in 1517 and every seven years some locals dress up much like Morris Dancers without the bells and perform the dance live. The other part is jousting knights. These re-enact a famous tournament that was held for the royal wedding of Duke Wilhelm V which took place on Marienplatz in 1568.

So there you have it. A clockwork structure built at the beginning of the 19th century which is far less complicated than almost any similar clockwork structure built 100 years prior to it, celebrating things that almost everyone has forgotten and in a way which utterly fails to remind the residents about the events but rather reminds them that their city is overrun by gawking tourists.

Strange. Very strange.

There is a cafe on the immediately opposite side of the sqaure with a perfect view of the proceedings. The cafe is called, funnily enough, Cafe Glockenspiel

Note: The Glockenspiel will reportedly not be working in Summer 2007 due to renovation works. See the chat forum discussion: Glockenspiel currently being renovated.

Munich
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