Its central location at the Munich Marienplatz is the first but certainly not the last reason why countless tourists visit the Ratskeller every day. Ratskeller translates to “cellar of the city hall” and indeed that is where the restaurant is situated. As Munich had started to grow rapidly in the 19th century, a new city hall was needed. The building plans from 1867 specified that the cellar should be a vast public house. The idea was quickly put into action and the building opened its gates in 1874.
Back then the public house already consisted of a maze of six connected vaults. Ceilings and walls were decorated with paintings and sculptures that tell the history of Munich and the almost sacred tradition of beer drinking – needless to say that both are intricately connected. As a result, many of the artworks are rather humorous and elevate the simple beverage to an object of cultural heritage.
However, not only the curious decor of the Ratskeller may leave one wondering, but also the prices of drinks and meals when the traditional public house first opened. According to the official website, a litre of beer was 26 pennies. A quick conversion shows that prices have risen by almost 8000 % when considering that a “Maß” cost 10 Euros at the 2017 Oktoberfest! This increase is proof that beer must be one of the most popular drinks in this corner of the world and its fans think it is worth every cent.
Since its opening, the Ratskeller has been expanded and renovated several times. Next to the six original vaults, it now spans an even greater network of rooms and halls and has turned into a true underground labyrinth. Both Munich residents and foreign visitors look around in awe when being led to their table trough long corridors, past half hidden alcoves and great halls. One of these rooms, the “Sumpf”, has the flair of the Far East with its intricately painted arches. In contrast, the “Bacchuskeller” offers a typical Bavarian atmosphere that will leave you hungry for the region’s rustic cuisine.
On a culinary level, the Ratskeller will fulfill almost any desire. Besides traditional German delicacies the menu offers a range of dishes that take inspiration from cuisines around the world. Guests who do not want to spend a sunny day below ground can sit in the impressive courtyard of the restaurant, called the “Prunkhof”. Surrounded by the towering gothic walls and windows of the Ratskeller, one can escape the tourist hubbub for an afternoon here. The main feature of the courtyard is a spiral staircase and its decoration. Figures of stone tell of the different stages of life. Sitting under gloriously bright CARAVITA Primavera sunshades one can join in on one of Munich’s most popular pastimes: watching people go past and in turn being watched enjoying a coffee or piece of cake.