photos of angel orchestra

photo of gingerbread hearts


























photo of people in a rathskeller
Market-goers can relax at the Ratskeller located in the basement of Munich's Rathaus.

























































































































































































MUNICH'S COLORFUL 2007 CHRISTMAS MARKETS



European Traveler was there!



By Marilyn Heimburger
Photos by Marilyn and Don Heimburger

What better way to discover the magic of Christmas than to experience the sights, sounds and smells of Germany's famous colorful Christmas markets!

Not only do these markets offer beautifully-crafted products and traditional food, they are also filled with a sense of excitement, community and anticipation during the season of Advent.

Children's eyes sparkle as they gaze at the colorful lighted displays, and friends meet to share a drink and celebrate the season.


European Traveler's first stop on a Weihnachtsmarkt tour was Munich's historic market in Marienplatz. Possibly dating from the 14th century, the market was first called a “Nicholas Market” during the 17th century. Since 1972 the Christkindlmarkt, as it is now called, has been held in the central square of Marienplatz, near the famous Glockenspiel in the town hall.


100-FOOT-TREE SPARKLES

A nearly 100-foot- tall Christmas tree, sparkling with thousands of tiny white lights, towers over the more than 140 stalls that fill the square and meander down Kaufingerstrasse toward the famous two-towered Frauenkirche.

Hungry? Try the grilled sausages and sauerkraut, or potato pancakes with a glass of the delicious local beer. Or warm up with a cup of Gluhwein (hot spiced wine) and take home a souvenir Christmas Market mug. Buy a gingerbread heart that declares your love or friendship in icing, or a package of traditional Nuremberg Lebkuchen. The aroma of roasted almonds, served in paper cones, is everywhere. Handmade Christmas decorations of straw, pewter and wood, hand carved from the Oberammergau, South Tyrol and the Erzgebirge areas of Germany, carry forward Christmas traditions of centuries passed.

photo of gluvine mugs
Mugs from the markets are highly collectible.

Candles, pottery and toys are among the offerings of other merchants, all of whom brave the chilly weather to be a part of this festive annual event that is open from the Friday before the first Sunday in Advent until Christmas Eve.

 

SPECIAL CHRISTKINDL STAMP

On the way to the additional booths located in the town hall's inner courtyard is a special Christmas Post Office which will postmark your mail “Christkindl” and send it anywhere in the world.

photo of manger scene

photo of large manger scene

Unique to Munich's Christmas markets since the middle of the 18th century is the Kripperlmarkt, Germany's largest manger market. Located a short walk away from Marienplatz on the Rindermarkt, this specialty market offers animals, figures, stalls, lanterns, sheds, trees – anything for a large or small Nativity scene. Food and beverages are available at this market from the hut at the base of a colorful, two-story-high, rotating candle pyramid.

Both the Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz and the Kripperlmarkt on the Rindermarkt are open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. A 10-minute walk from Marienplatz to Brinner Strasse at Wittelsbacher Platz brings you to the Mittelaltermarkt. This unique market is designed to transport you to the Middle Ages, where knights and ladies-in-waiting stroll among wooden stalls, which are lighted by flaming torches and candlelight.

medieval booth

booth selling pastries

Vendors dress in period costumes, and hot mulled wine is served in clay vessels. Pastry, waffles, crepes, fur accessories, jewelry, candles, ceramics, and knight and princess costumes for children, are among the products available at this relatively new but increasingly popular market.

THE DALLMAYR STORE

On the way back to Marienplatz, stop and visit Dallmayr, Germany's most famous deli . It has been located on Dienerstrasse between Marienplatz and Odeonplatz. since the late17th century, but the current building was constructed in 1950, after the previous one was burned to the ground during World War II. Known for its brand name coffee, the delicatessen offers luxury foods that include confectioneries, tea, honey, jelly, chocolate, meat, sausage, chicken, fish, caviar, pasta, bread, fruits, vegetables, wine, tobacco, and even an indoor fountain stocked with live crayfish. There is also a high-end restaurant with seating for 120.

Another interesting and tasty stop is Rischart Bakery, located right off Marienplatz. During the Christmas market season, this outdoor, cobble-stoned café is transformed, with the help of a windowed white tent, into a heated, carpeted, indoor café, complete with a white, fabric-swagged, star-lit ceiling. Children are invited to assemble cookies for baking at a workstation, while adults enjoy coffee and a pastry.


Christian Diederich works as a baker at the Rischart Bakery in Munich during the Christmas Markets.

 

DEUTSCHES MUSEUM OFFERS A LOT

Is it too rainy to visit the Christmas markets? Spend some time at the Deutsches Museum until the weather clears. Founded in 1903, the museum shows the development of science and technology from early time to the present day. It is one of the largest museums in the world, with exhibits on marine navigation, mining and man's first attempts at flight to space travel and rocket science.

Beautifully detailed models show railroad and bridge construction. The museum's collection of musical instruments is one of the most important of its kind anywhere in the world. Tours and demonstrations are scheduled daily in many departments. Find more information at www.deutsches-museum.de.

photo of Wright Bros. airplane

If the magic of Christmas at the markets isn't enough, end your day at the Munich Opera House enjoying a performance of Mozart's “Magic Flute.” This production is a holiday favorite for families, who dress in their finest for the event. During the intermission, have a glass of wine and light dinner or snack at the lower level food service area. A behind-the-scenes tour of the Bavarian State Opera house reveals the immense area available to facilitate movement and storage of scenery for the many productions. With seating for 2,101, it is the largest opera house in Germany. First built between 1811 and 1818, it was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 1823, and again after being bombed during World War II. The current neoclassic building was finished in 1963.

With the popularity of Munich's Christmas Markets, accommodations may be difficult to find near Marienplatz. For comfortable lodging, try the Hotel Pullman Munch, which is just a short U-Bahn ride away from Marienplatz, the Christmas markets, and the Opera House. It is located at Theodor-Dombart-Strasse 4, 80805 Munich Phone: +49 89 360990.


Next Christkindlmarkt stop: Nuremberg