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St Mary's Column Marienplatz Munich
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© Christine Till
The Marienplatz (Mary's Square, i.e. St. Mary, Our Lady's Square) in Munich, Germany is "the heart of the city" since the city was founded in 1158 by Henry the Lion.
In the Middle Ages, the square used to be a market place as well as the place where tournaments and festivities took place. The square was originally known as Schrannen but it was renamed Marienplatz (St. Mary's Square) as a way to ask Virgin Mary (the patron saint of Bavaria) to protect the town from a cholera epidemic.
In 1638 elector Maximilian I erected the Mariensäule, an eleven-meter-high Marian column in the centre of Marienplatz, to show his gratitude that München and the Bavarian town of Landshut were almost spared of the destruction by the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War. The column (Mariensäule) is topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary standing on a crescent moon as the Queen of Heaven. The figure, created in 1590, was originally located in Munich's Frauenkirche. At each corner of the column's pedestal is a statue of a putto. 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.
Mariensäule in Muenchen was the first column of this type built north of the Alps and inspired erecting other Marian columns in this part of Europe. Today all official distances in Munchen are measured from Mariensaule, and Mariensaeule is still used as the topological center of Bavaria for topographical surveys.
December 29th, 2012
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