Sunday, December 8, 2019

Magnificent Christmas Markets in Europe

Advent in Hellbrunn/Salzburg

Christmassy scents and magical glittering lights, burning-hot chestnuts and mulled wine: every year they make us fall into the Advent mood despite all the Christmas bustle. But where does the tradition of fairytale Christmas markets come from and which ones are particularly beautiful?

In the early Middle Ages, the pre-Christmas markets were used to gather supplies for the long winters. From this tradition, the Christmas markets or Advent markets with mulled wine, gingerbread, and other sweets have developed in the course of time. Here are just a few examples of the many that visitors can experience:

From mid-November, Prague will be one of the best places for those who want to stroll through the Christmas market with the scent of Christmas cookies, chestnuts and mulled wine on the Prague Square of Peace. Other markets can be found in Prague Castle, Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, Tylovo and Republic Square.

Dresden features a total of 12 Christmas Markets, it has the largest number of Christmas markets in the eastern part of Germany, namely the famous Striezelmarkt. Most Christmas markets there start in the last November week. The Striezelmarkt in Dresden - and the oldest in Germany - is considered the first genuine Christmas market in the world. Founded as a one-day market in 1434, it celebrates its 585th anniversary in 2019.

Striezelmarket in Dresden

The Nuremberg Christmas Market is also one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in Europe. At the market stalls, you can find traditional, handcrafted Christmas decorations and beautiful gift ideas. Strengths can be found with Nuremberg gingerbread and the famous grilled Nuremberg sausages. The Nuremberg Christkind (a young lady) appears on the balcony of the Church of Our Lady to open the holiday season.

The location of Innsbruck with the mountains surrounding it makes a wonderful atmosphere. There is not only the Golden Roof that shines at Christmas time but also the stalls of the Christmas Market which nestle against the historic houses. A large Christmas tree is the center point with various stalls around it. In addition to traditional crafts and Christmas souvenirs, punch, gingerbread, and many other delicacies are offered.
Then there is also the Rattenberg Advent in a medieval town close to Innsbruck - best known for its glass manufacture - with fine old buildings with a pedestrian center. Visit Hall in Tirol's Christmas Market also. It is lower-key but very nice.

Bozen - Bolzano
Für ein knappes Monat erfüllt weihnachtlicher Duft die Straßen und malerischen Gassen der Südtiroler Landeshauptstadt; der schillernde Glanz romantischer Leuchten und flackernder Kerzen taucht Bozen für kurze Zeit in zauberhaftes Licht. Der Christkindlmarkt Bozen in Südtirol ist der größte Weihnachtsmarkt Italiens und lockt er mit seinem ganz eigenen, besonderen Flair alljährlich unzählige Besucher an den in der Adventzeit prächtig geschmückten Waltherplatz.

Bozen Christmas Market

My Personal Favorites in all of Europe are the Advent Markets in Salzburg:
Mountain scenery, historic churches, tranquil alleys, and cozy castles - all lovingly decorated with thousands of lights and a glittering blanket of snow - that's Salzburg in Advent. Various Christmas markets in the city area, especially the one in front of the cathedral, are definitely worth a visit. My favorite, however, is a little outside at Hellbrunn Palace.

Hellbrunner Adventszauber 
Amidst the stunning scenery of the palace and the park of Hellbrunn, you can enjoy Salzburg's most festive and idyllic Advent market and its varying program. 

Monday to Thursday - FREE ENTRANCE and Friday/Saturday/Sunday after 6 p.m. 
Saturday/Sunday, during the day until 6 p.m. - € 5.00 per person. Children under the age of 6 are always free. For the entrance every visitor is given a voucher for a drink (mulled wine, hot punch or children's punch) worth € 3.70 and it includes the entrance to the Salzburg Zoo. The drink-voucher can be redeemed during the opening hours in the Advent 2019 - and also at any other day.

Already from mid-November, there is a fairy forest consisting of more than 400 conifers, decorated with 13,000 red Christmas baubles and fairy lights, which allow the entire area to shine in a very special light as soon as dusk arrives. 

A great number of traditional Advent huts, romantically hidden between the green trees, make the time waiting for the Christ Child pass more quickly. It’s a unique ambiance and a festive setting that can't be found anywhere else. 
  • Every Wednesday at 3 p.m. you can enjoy Stubenmusi in the “Adventkaffee in the Orangery” (traditional folk music is called Stubenmusi).
  • Choirs: traditional live music with wind players (Weisenbläser)
  • Nativity scene exhibition 

The area of the water park to the Sternweiher is accessible during the opening hours of the Advent market. The Hellbrunn Palace Park is illuminated by a festive, enchanting light installation. Visitors can reach Hellbrunn by bus line 25 from the train station, the Mirabell Gardens or from downtown.

Salzburg at Night

Salzburg Downtown in Advent:
Don’t miss the Christmas Museum! It is open daily from 10am to 6pm
During the Christmas holidays: 1st Advent - 31st December (24th December & 31. December: 10 am till 1 pm) as well as during Salzburg Festival 

Or take a short train ride out to Oberndorf: The tiny “Silent Night Chapel”, built on the site of the church where, on December 24,1818, a priest and his organist first sang the carol singers' favorite - now the most famous Christmas song

Salzburg revels in its Mozart connection, naming sweets, squares and special occasions after him. But the only site that cuts the genius down to human size is Mozart's birthplace, the claustrophobic third floor at Getreidegasse 9. See a locket holding his infant curls, read personal letters to his sister and, marvel at his baby-sized violin.
Make it to the end of the Getreidegasse and you can dig into the story of the real “Von Trapp” family at the Sound of Music World museum.

Zwettlers, Getreidegasse 3
Using only ingredients from local suppliers, this 160-year-old restaurant serves the Austrian holy trinity — soup, schnitzel, and strudel. Delicious!

St. Peter Stiftskulinarium
This cellar has been feeding pilgrims since 803. No surprise, then, that its vaulted medieval chambers score top marks for ambiance. Try their Salzburger Nockerl, a light meringue-and-cream dessert.

My Favored Hotel
Art Hotel Blaue Gans, located in the famous Getreidegasse in a 14th-century building but with brand-new rooms, is only minutes from the Dome, the Mirabell Castle and all the other famous and historical places in the city. No car needed at all! Stellar location!
It certainly has free Wi-Fi, free, excellent breakfast and has large, modern rooms. The only thing I would wish is more electrical plugins, but the reception could help with an extension cord. 

Salzburg is a very bike-able city — Avelo Mozartplatz has bikes for hire. You can easily cycle along the Salzach river to the next village, Hallein. Or visit the Guglhof Distillery for a Schnapps-tasting.

Enjoy enchanting Adventtrips to Europe!



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