Erfurt – a traditional Christmas market in the heart of Germany

Martin Luther, who was also ordained a priest in the Augustinian Chapel in 1506, remains one of the most famous residents of the town in the German federal state of Thuringia. Erfurt is justifiably proud of Luther and also of other famous residents, such as the organist Johann Pachelbel.

A city that has kept its tradition
Even Johann Sebastian Bach's parents were married in 1668 in a small church that still stands in the main town square Anger. Although Erfurt is not one of the most visited German cities, important personalities and preserved architecture have once again begun to attract those seeking authenticity and hospitality. The traditional architecture, which was unfortunately left to decay during the time when Erfurt was part of the German Democratic Republic, but was restored after 1990 with an incredible degree of precision and devotion of the inhabitants, is with some extraordinary architectural gems the most beautiful companion to the traditional Christmas fair. Surrounded by the beautiful buildings of the old town and right below the symbol of the city, 1200 years old Saint Mary's Cathedral, and the neighboring one the church of Saint Severius market Domplatz it offers a magical atmosphere during the Advent season and has been the ideal host for the Christmas market for 150 years. The delicious aromas of culinary specialties such as mulled wine, baked apples, honey buns, Stollen - the Christmas bread typical of Thuringia and of course the famous Thuringian sausages - attract Christmas market lovers from all over the world. At more than 200 stands, you can see Thuringian sweets and, of course, a variety of artisanal products. The decorations that can be used to decorate the Christmas tree are particularly interesting. In addition to the interesting shapes and motifs, there is another important reason to buy Christmas decorations right at the Erfurt Christmas Fair. Many popular Christmas traditions have their roots in Thuringia. For example, in nearby Weimar in 1816, the first Christmas tree was placed on the main square, and it was intended for all children whose parents could not afford a Christmas tree at home. In the town of Lauscha, the tradition of decorating Christmas trees with glass balls was born about 160 years ago, and quite a few oft-sung Christmas carols also originate from the heart of Germany.

A Christmas tale.
A Christmas tale.

 Some sellers have found that the organic offer is also more tempting at the Christmas market. They also found that it is necessary to start with the youngest, so in the organic bakery children have the opportunity to knead, shape and bake their own cookies. After learning about baking, the children in the square enjoy riding the carousel or the giant wheel, which in small cabins takes lovers of heights high above the square and opens up an enchanting view of the winter fairy tale. In addition to mechanical entertainment, visitors are entertained every evening by choirs, musicians and storytellers. The square also found a place for the enchanted forest, which local artists Hannelore Reichenbach and Kurt Buchspiess have been bringing to life with their fairy-tale scenery for several years. At the weekend, when most visitors come to the city, the events are even more varied, as organ concerts take place in churches, and children are often given gifts by Santa himself, who apparently likes Erfurt very much.

The whole town lives in anticipation of Christmas
The very opening of the Christmas fair, which took place this year on November 25, is special, as it takes place on a huge staircase that leads from the square to the hill on which the cathedral and the church of Saint Severius are located. The opening of the fair is also a sign to the rest of the city that the time is starting when the Christmas spirit reigns, when a sea of lights illuminates the city and festive decorations adorn the shop windows. Not only the square under the cathedral, other Erfurt landmarks also host Christmas vendors. Both medieval streets with typical German houses as well as 36 churches and chapels and 15 monasteries, which gave Erfurt even its nickname Thuringian Rome, lives and breathes in the joyful anticipation of Christmas. Also 120 meters long and built in 1325 Krämerbrücke or the Merchants' Bridge, which with its 32 houses on both sides is the longest and only inhabited bridge north of the Alps, becomes part of the Christmas scene, as the shops of the artists who live on the bridge become displays of imaginative Christmas art. It is only during a walk through the medieval city center that we will notice the determination of the people of Erfurt to protect the rich cultural heritage of the city, which was not forgotten or denied even during the communist rule, when most of the Christmas markets were abolished and the medieval buildings were left to decay. The city, which was first mentioned in the distant year 742 and owes its development mainly to its excellent position at the crossroads of important European trade routes and the silin plant (Isatis tinctoria), which before the arrival of indigo in the 16th century was considered the only means by which fabrics were dyed blue. At every step, we will be able to admire medieval and Renaissance buildings. Fischmarkt (fish square), on which the neo-Gothic town hall is located, is surrounded by beautiful Renaissance buildings, and the most beautiful medieval houses are located near the Merchants' Bridge. The oldest 'cultural center' in Germany is also in Erfurt. Emperor's Hall (Kaisersaal) was built by merging three noble palaces in the 18th century, and was supposed to serve as the ballroom of the University of Erfurt, the fourth oldest German university. During the Christmas season, dances and performances for children and adults will take place in it, which will further enliven the Christmas atmosphere in the city. Precisely because of its restored medieval city center and strong cultural preservation ethic, Erfurt was named to the elite group of fourteen German cities that represent German historical cities with "special charm, architectural brilliance and historical character".

The city lives in anticipation of Christmas.
The city lives in anticipation of Christmas.

City tour with Santa
Although the Christmas market takes place all over the city, especially on Anger square and in front of the town hall, the center of the action is of course the 25 meter high Christmas trees on Domplatz. In addition to the decorated fir tree, huge, hand-carved ones are also a special attraction nativity scene of 14 figures in almost life size and the original 12 meters high Christmas pyramid, which represents an old German tradition from the Erzgebirge area. That the town really lives a completely different life during the advent season, we can also find out during a tour of the town with a guide, as Santa Claus himself, Mrs. Božičkova, Miklavž or which of the angels. The tour of the city naturally ends at the Domplatz, where in the warm light of decorated buildings, the sound of Christmas carols, the smell of mulled wine and sweet treats, we will return to the times of childhood joy, anticipation and excitement.

Info Box



Imperial Hall (Kaisersaal): Futterstrasse 15/16, www.kaisersaalerfurt.de

German historical sites: www.hhog.de

German Christmas markets: www.cometogermany.com

Traditional Christmas decorations: www.erzgebirgepalace.com


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