Sylvia Necker

urban research &
modern history :::  
exhibits & installations :::
radio & sound art :::

minden :::
frankfurt/main :::
hamburg :::


Town Hall Squares in Munich and Hamburg, 26.8.2016

Soccer, Beer and Wine. Festival Culture at the Munich and the Hamburg Town Hall Square, Vortrag im Rahmen der 13. Konferenz der EAUH (European Association of Urban History) „Reinterpretating Cities“ in Helsinki, 24.-27. August 2016. Der Vortrag ist Teil der Session „M43: Town Hall Squares as Spatial Focal Points of Urban Life in the 19th and 20th Century“.

Sylvia Necker: Soccer, Beer and Wine. Festival Culture at the Munich and the Hamburg Town Hall Square
The comparison of the town hall squares in Hamburg und Munich can be summarized in one slogan: Unequal History but similar appropriation. If you have a look on urban history, the Munich Marienplatz is the main square since the middle ages. Hamburg got a new city centre in the late 19th century after the Great Fire in 1842. Since that time the Hamburg Rathausmarkt is the main square.

Also in the field of architecture and urban development differences are visible: the Marienplatz is the political and geographic centre of Munich. Here crosses the north-south-axis and the east-west-axis of the old city. Hamburg has chosen his city centre always according to water access. Until 1842 the town hall square was located at the Troostbrücke with a link to the river Elbe. Since the 1880s the newly-created town hall square has a connection to the Binnenalster, the central lake in Hamburg.

But there’s one similarity: especially in the second half of the 20th century the were seldom used as places for political demonstration and representation. They were rather developed as festival places in the middle of inner-city pedestrian areas. At Rathausplatz 2015 the „Stuttgarter Weindorf“ – a  Swabian wine festival – took place for the thirtieth time. The Marienplatz is used every year to celebrate the championship of the soccer club FC Bayern München starting with catholic-alike procession through the old city, finding themselves in an ecstatic party with lots of beer at the Marienplatz.

In the first part I’ll explore the development of the two town hall squares in the urban history briefly. The main chapter focuses on the functional change since the 1980s. Therefore I analyze the use of the squares as festival location in the framework of economic and touristic interests in both towns.


Planausschnitt Rathausmarkt Hamburg 1890, aus: