A great dragon lurks above pedestrians, poised as if ready to strike terror into all who pass below. But fear not: the metal beast commemorates a monster slain by the brave people of Munich.
According to local legend, in the dark days of the Middle Ages, a winged serpent crept out of the ground in central Munich. It spread the Black Death among the people, causing waves of death and destruction until heroic citizens fought and killed the creature (this medieval tale may have had metaphorical dimensions as the word dragon was also used during this period as a metaphor for hunger and starvation. It is recorded that the black death also brought famine to the region).
A metal dragon statue climbing up the side of Munich’s city hall on the Wurmeck, or “Serpent’s Corner,” commemorates this event. The dragon clings to the corner of a building that was constructed in 1906. Around the beast, stone reliefs tell the story of its legendary arrival and defeat.
The true origins of the name Wurmeck may, in fact, come from the owners of the original historic building, which was there from medieval times until the mid-19th century. The Schönecker family is said to have had a “panther” in their crest. But this was not the jungle cat we know, and instead was a monster similar to a serpent called a lindwurm in German mythology. In addition to the crest, a relief of Saint George fighting a dragon is known to have been on the old building as well.