Going Out in Munich: Ratskeller

Visiting different bars and restaurants for my readers I was this week at Ratskeller. One of the places that possess something more on its own.

When I started my beer tour around Munich many years ago, I was aware that I could bump out on a lot of locations. Some of them perhaps have been amazing, some were odd but unique.

The location of this magnificent restaurant is one of a kind though. Direct under the new city Hall.

You can expect to find a restaurant in some large building with a couple of stories in it. But I know you couldn’t imagine one in a basement.

That’s where this bar actually is, but it will be more clear to you by continuing reading this.

Around the world are some Ratskeller

Germany

Ratskeller is a name in German-speaking countries for every facility that provides hospitality services. It is usually located in the basement of a city hall or nearby.

Many taverns, nightclubs, bars and similar establishments throughout the world use this terminology.

The word had been used in English since the mid-19th century. With at least one New York restaurant calling itself a ‘rathskeller’ in the 19th century, this term became standard in use.

One Ratskeller was one of the oldest wine cellars in Germany and it was a center of the wine trade. It was the Ratskeller in Bremen. But another one was popular in northern Germany.

There are other Ratskeller for instance in Lubeck. This one was one of the oldest ones in this part of the country with parts dating to the Romanesque era. The earliest documented use for wine storage dates to the year 1220.

North America

When it’s about America, their establishments tend to spell the word ‘Rathskeller’ to avoid similarity with the word rat.

One facility that has served Bavarian fare since 1894 was the former ‘Das Deutsche Haus’, Ratskeller restaurant in Indianapolis. Nowadays, this place is known as the ‘Athenaeum’.

Through the years of hard work and dedication, this place received historical landmark status.

Ratskeller in Boston has even more significance though. It was a famous rock and roll club from 1974 to 1997. So, it was an active place for rock bands for two full decades.

Here are performing some bands that are very popular today in the world of music. Bands like Metallica, The Police, The Pixies and The Cars were among the ones who performed here before they met glory. This place provided them a springboard for their future careers and achievements.

Nevertheless, The Minnesota State Capitol contains a rathskeller. This recently renovated and restored in 2017. But this place is complete since 1905. For the openiung, the Ratskeller contained 29 painted mottoes in German.

Also, it was home to a full-service restaurant. This is worth of admiration from my side.

Currently, the Ratskeller is home to a café serving legislators and the public.
How this bar had an influence on entire hospitality services in America telling us one great fact.

Many universities and public institutions have pubs and student centers located in re-purposed basements.

To market these non-traditional eating locations to students and patrons, many of these are termed Ratskeller or some variation thereupon. Some of them are Boston College, California Institute of Technology, Colorado State University and many others.

New Town Hall (Rathaus)

When we speak about the Ratskeller, it is hard not to mention a Rathaus.

The New Town Hall is a town hall at the northern part of Marienplatz in Munich. It hosts the city government including the city council, offices of the mayors and a small portion part of the administration.

In the year of 1874, the municipality had left the Old Town Hall for its new domicile.

Rathaus in Munich is pretty big if I may say. This complex of brick and shell limestone has 6 courtyards built on the area of nearly 9200 square meters. Of this whole space, the building covers 7115 square meters.

Luxury from the 19th century

What is noticeable is that almost 100 meters long main facade. This richly decorated side leads to Marienplatz. It shows Guelph Duke, Henry the Lion and almost the entire line of the ‘House of Wittelsbach’ rule in Bavaria.

Also, it is the most extensive Princely cycle at a German Town Hall.

The other catchy thing here is a statue of the Prince Regent Luitpold. It applies to a central monument in the middle of the main facade between the two building sections on the Marienplatz.

There are more interesting things to see on the main facade of the Marienplatz and on that of the Weinstrasse. You can find a Munich’s founders, Neo-gothic water fountains in the form of grimaces so as allegorical images too.

Themes from the life of saints and folk legends are also available.
Numerous glass windows with local, national and religious motifs adorn the building. During the final phase of World War II, most of the windows were destroyed, unfortunately.

But the light at the end of a tunnel is always present. I mean that because most of the objects could be restored to their original form with the help of donations.

Town Hall and its breathtaking view

As I already mentioned, the New Town Hall is the home of the Mayor and the city council which has its conference room here. The council factions and small parts of the city administration are accommodated too.

The library hall was built to accommodate the Council’s legal library and is still a publicly available library. It is under the administration of the Munich City Library.

Something that is really worth mentioning is that this town hall had been a part of sportsmen’s and athlete’s success. They were often honored for their sports achievements as the manifestation of giving medals was held here.
It is a special honor to look down upon the observers from the balcony of the Mayor’s office which is located in the ‘Rathausturm’ below the clock.

I know how this experience can be a huge privilege to every athlete and people from the world of sport. Just imagine that view from the balcony, like in some fairy tale right?

Also, the Rathausturm you can use the lift and visit the gallery with an woanderful view to Marienplatz. On a clear day, you can see the Alps, the church of Old Peter, the Marienplatz, the Holy Spirit Church and the Old Town Hall from there.

How astonishing is that?

In the north you see, the Theatinerkirche and Olympiaturm. In the west, you can see the Frauenkirche and St. Paul’s Church.

Above all the details there is the Glockenspiel, or the clock. The idea of integrating a clock chime into the tower of the Town Hall goes back to Georg von Hauberrisser.
The costs were substantial and the 43 bells cost 154000 gold-marks alone.

Karl Rosipal, an antique dealer, donated in 1904 32.000 marks for the furniture.

Rathskeller’s service and food

I feel free to tell you what I have experienced here and what are my own impressions about this place.

Ratskeller is a great place to eat when you find yourself in Munich’s old town. From all the restaurants in Munich, this one like it has its own soul.
In the basement of the city hall, this restaurant is traditional in German cuisine and very nicely maintained.

I have come a couple of times. The first time I had a full meal but for my standards. As I am a vegetarian just imagine what full meal of mine looks like.

Ratskeller is also a big size.

The first time I was in a more formal part of the dining room with vaulted ceilings which felt mid-evil in nature. The meal was delicious and the service was topnotch.

My second visit this past September was during the season when Italian prunes are in season. It lends itself to a cake that I like to eat often. I was fortunate finding it here. It made different than the recipe I’m mused to. I had to get over that for a while.

Our server reminded me so much of one of my friends and she was really kind and motherly when tending to me. I enjoyed that pretty much I must admit because I like kind persons with visible warmth in their hearts.

Prices are a bit steep though. Ones, I came in on a Sunday evening without a reservation but they were able to accommodate me easily.

All in all, I spent really nice time on every visit so I hope that I can find myself here once again, this time with my husband!

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