Terrace Views

Did You Know This About der Rathskeller?

Whether you are regular or visiting Memorial Union for the first time, der Rathskeller is a Madison classic. From live music to fresh food, the German-style beer hall will immerse you in history and art (and delicious food, of course), and you’ll quickly find out why the space, which we at the Wisconsin Union run, has been loved for decades. 

Here are four fun facts to impress a friend on your next visit:

1. Previously called, the Taproom.

Memorial Union interior designer, Leon R. Pesheret, immediately envisioned a “German beer hall” during his discovery of the space. So, in 1928, der Rathskeller was born at Memorial Union to embody a German hall. Soon after, der Rathskeller became the center for events, dancing and socializing at UW–Madison. 

2. Prior to the ‘80s, der Rathskeller was the face of Memorial Union.

Today, so many things come to mind when we say, “Memorial Union.” From Outdoor UW to the Terrace chairs, the growth of activities, events, amenities, and services  has been exponential over the past more than 90 years. However, before the ‘80s, der Rathskeller was the immediate connection to Memorial Union. This is an attestation to how prominent der Rathskeller has always been, and the love of this preserved space connects Badgers across generations. 

3. Der Rathskeller is decorated with more than 300 steins.

Have you ever wondered about the dozens of steins lining the walls of der Rathskeller? Generations of Badgers have donated steins to the Wisconsin Union, establishing this remarkable collection. Not only do the steins hold historical weight, they provide the finishing touches of authentic German ambiance within der Rathskeller. Stein donations are not being accepted at this time. 

Excited to visit yet? We hope so! Check out our menu here: union.wisc.edu/dine/find-food-and-drink/der-rathskeller.

We welcome a visit on a whim, but, if you are planning ahead, check out this information about parking and travel to help you make the most of your time in downtown Madison: union.wisc.edu/visit/getting-here.

Author: Lenah Helmke

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