Nürnberg (English: Nuremberg) is known for its Christmas market and the Nuremberg Bratwurst. The Christmas market here isn’t called “Weihnachtsmarkt” in German however, but “Christkindlesmarkt” which could mean “Christ Child market” in the Bavarian dialect. Being the largest market in Germany, it attracts around 2 million visitors every year. The city itself is also very interesting so if you aren’t especially into the touristy and crowded market, Nürnberg is still worth a visit any other time of the year.
Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆
Diversity of goods: ★★★★☆
Link: Click here
Date visited: Dec 2, 2012
The Nuremberg Christkind is an important symbol for the Christmas market. Instead of St. Nikolaus, this Christkind is the Christmas angel who is said to deliver gifts to children on Christmas Eve in traditional Nuremberg Lutheran families. Every year, a young girl plays the role of Christkind and opens the Christmas market on the balcony of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). We had, sadly, missed this famous opening, which took place on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent, that is, two days before our visit.
As one of the biggest markets of its kind, the Christkindlesmarkt has over 180 wooden booths selling all sorts of traditional goods. It’s located on the Hauptmarkt (Main Market Square) in front of the Frauenkirche in the old town. All the stands are neatly organized into a grid so it’s supposed to be easy to walk through the market. However, such famous market naturally attracts (too) many tourists from all over the world, so it can be very crowded and you might find yourself stuck in the middle of a crowd every five to ten steps.
One of the most traditional things you can find at the Christkindlesmarkt is the Zwetschgenmännle – prune men. As the name suggests, they’re little handmade figures made of prune and were invented by a Nuremberger. You can rarely see these lovely figures in other towns’ markets; but here, they are everywhere!
Besides the traditional prune men, there are also all kinds of Christmas-related goods, such as ornaments, toys and other gifts:
The Nürnberger Rostbratwurst already existed in 1313 and is well-known in Germany (which I don’t understand why; I suppose taste in food is really subjective). The difference between a Nuremberg bratwurst and a normal bratwurst (by the way, a bratwurst is just a sausage. I used to think it’s like a hotdog (sausage + bun) but the sausage is grilled or pan fried (and according to my German friends, it’s way better) because it’s usually served in a bun) is that the Nuremberg one is thin and small, pork-based and seasoned with marjoram. In the Christkindlesmarkt, it’s not hard at all to find Nürnberger Rostbratwürste if you want to try this renowned treat. Usually you pay €2 to €3 for three bratwürste in a small bun, which is called a “Weggla”. We were so hungry that we didn’t bother to compare different stands’ prices and quality and simply ate at the booth closest to the entrance – a mistake. We were disappointed, but one of my friends tried another one from the bratwurst store in front of the St. Sebaldus Church and he said it was a lot better.
But Nuremberg has got more than just mini sausages – their Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies) are equally famous. They come in different shapes and are sometimes coated in chocolate or frosting.
My favorite food is, however, warm baguette topped with tons of cheese and ham and tomatoes and whatever you can think of! The one I tried was €4 – good price in my opinion and it tasted extremely good, especially on a cold, snowy day.
Things in such a touristy market are naturally a bit more pricey, but the food doesn’t cost that much. The bratwurst we got was €3.50 and I also had some chocolate-coated strawberries (also €3.50) as well as a cup of hot chocolate (€2). We got 100g of Weihnachtsgebäck (Christmas cookies) for €2 only – not so expensive but they weren’t as good as those we have in Heidelberg.
There is another smaller Christmas market just next to the main market, called “Markt der Partnerstädte” (Market of the Sister Cities). Booths from other cities from various countries, namely Turkey, USA, Ukraine, Thuringia, Scotland, Greece, Poland, France, Czech Republic, Nicaragua, China, Macedonia, Isreal, Rumania, Sri Lanka and italy, can be found in this small international market. Some of these booths don’t sell Christmas items at all – I imagine that’s because not all these countries (e.g. China) celebrate the holiday. Instead you can buy traditional decors and crafts here.
Writing this review makes me realize that I didn’t get to enjoy the market as much as I could have; perhaps it was merely the cold and the crowd. The city and the market have much to offer but it was a bit overwhelming. If you want to go next year, choose a week day and arrive earlier. Or skip the crowd and visit the historic town’s other famous sights when everyone else is flocking to the market!