The swampy area was settled by Jews in the 12th century. When the penultimate circumvallation was completed ca 1320, the Jewish quarter lay at the center of the city. With the consent of Karl IV, the city council razed the quarter and its synagogue in 1349 to make room for a marketplace. Over 600 Jews were murdered. The Frauenkirche was built where the synagogue once stood. The Jews were resettled in the vicinity of today’s Judengasse/Wunderburggasse, where they lived until they were once again expelled in 1499.
Festive events, such as the annual display of the imperial regalia (15th century) and patricians tournaments, have traditionally taken place on the Hauptmarkt. The fine houses which flanked the square were destroyed in 1945.
Now, during the pre-Christmas season, the market square is the scene of the world-famous "Christkindlesmarkt".