When people think of iconic Christmas markets, the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg is usually at the top of most people’s lists. Taking place annually during Advent in the Hauptmarkt, the central square in old town, over the years the market has also stretched out into adjoining squares and streets (including the sister city market in Rathausplatz, which has been going on since 1998). With about two million visitors a year, Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany and one of the most famous in the world. Naturally, we were most excited about visiting this market and, in fact, had coordinated our trip such that it would end in Nuremberg so that we’d leave having saved the best for last.
So … what’s my verdict?
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a large, very nice market, but with the exception of the prune men (which truthfully freaked me out a bit) and the abundance of gingerbread that isn’t actually gingerbread – it’s actually called lebkuchen – it wasn’t that much different than the Rathauspark market in Vienna (although I will say the people in Nuremberg who ran the stalls were much friendlier than those in Vienna). For some reason I had the impression that the market was much larger than it actually turned out to be, and in my head I pictured the sister city market being this wonderful place where you could learn about different cultures and how they celebrate Christmas. Let’s just say the booth for Atlanta featured Twinkies, potato chips, Jim Beam, and Johnny Walker (which, ahem, is Scottish) and all at ridiculous prices. Honestly, it was pretty sad and pathetic those are the items the proprietors of that booth chose to represent our country to everyone who travels to Nuremberg for the market. Just another thing that reinforces the notion that Americans are crass, fat, and obnoxious with no culture or history to offer the rest of the globe. *rolleyes*
I think it’d be a shame for someone to go to Nuremberg and limit their exploring strictly to that which is focused on Christmas. By all means, go there for that, but explore beyond the confines of that square. Take yourself off the beaten path. Find out about the history of the city and how it has evolved over time. Where Nuremberg excels, in my opinion, is outside the confines of the market. The city itself is amazingly beautiful with such an interesting, varied, and terrible history that it’d be a shame to limit yourself to only taking in one aspect of it. I’ll return a bit later to talk about the rest of our time spent in this historic city and how we came to be such fans of Nuremberg outside of its holiday traditions.
** This post is part of a series detailing our experience cruising down the Danube River visiting Christmas markets in Hungary, Austria, and Germany, aboard AmaWaterways‘ MS AmaSonata in late November 2015. **