The oldest building in the Marketplace is City Hall, which dates back to 1435.
In 1508, an additional floor was added to the original two-story structure. It was in this phase of expansion that the astronomical clock of Johannes Stöffler, a Tübingen math and astronomy professor, was added to the building.
The clock, which was made in 1511, was first placed on the second floor wall of City Hall. The original face of the clock with the figures of the zodiac is on display at the City Museum. In 1849, the clock was moved onto the ornate gable in the middle of the building. In addition to the hourly clock, there is also an astronomical clock with three hands: moon, sun, and dragon, which measure months, years, and 18-year periods respectively. Above it, a clock with a moon instead of a hand shows the phase of the moon. To this day the clocks reliably inform the citizens of Tübingen of the time, date, phase of the moon, as well as special astronomical events such as solar and lunar eclipses.
For the 400th anniversary of the university in 1877, the façade of City Hall was refinished with plaster and elaborate paintings in the neo-renaissance style, then adorned with the big names of the city, with Eberhard im Barte in the central position on the fourth floor. Eberhard was both the founder of the university (1477) and “Württemberg’s loved leader”. It was under his rule that Württemberg was promoted from a countship to a duchy. This event was immortalized in the Swabian hymn from Justinus Kerner, “Eulogizing with Many Lovely Orations”. In the Diet of Worms, Eberhard was supposedly known as the richest ruler because, although Württemberg was very poor at the time, he enjoyed the trust of his subjects.
On the wall below Eberhard are important figures in Tübingen’s history: Konrad Breuning, former governor of Tübingen, who took part in the 1514 negotiations of the Convention of Tübingen. Johannes Osiander saved the city from being destroyed by the French with his skillful diplomacy in 1688. Jakob Heinrich Dann was mayor and protected the territorial rights in the time of Duke Karl Eugens. His contemporary, Johann Ludwig Huber fended off plans of the Duke to implement unjust taxes. Johann Friedrich von Cotta published the works of Schiller, Goethe, and Ludwig Uhland to name just a few. The female figures on the second floor are allegories for justice, prosperity, and science. In former years, the roofed balcony served as a place to give speeches to the citizens. Today it is a favorite place for couples, who have just been married at the courthouse, to wave and pose for photos. On the southeast corner of City Hall the figure of a bacchante, a disciple of Bacchus the god of wine, is depicted. Her presence makes reference to Tübingen’s history of winegrowing – inebriated, she throws her clothes behind her.
In the Middle Ages, the ground floor of City Hall housed the municipal salt storage, a prison, and a public hall in which bakers and butchers could peddle their goods. The once wooden pillars were replaced with cement pillars in the 1970’s. In the large hall on the second floor, which once served as a sales hall for the tanner, visitors can still marvel at the original woodwork from the 15th century. The court and city council meet in the third floor. Starting in 1514, the Württemberg manorial court, the highest court in the land, met on the fourth floor.