Home Page > Features
> Germany > Hessen
> Christmas Markets
Christmas Markets in Hessen
Compared with the other states in our Christmas Market feature section,
Hessian markets are the most modern in character and the least steeped in
religion. Though most have a nativity, it is not surprising to find the
majority of the symbols used to be secular -- either purely winter themes or
making use of the American version of Santa Claus vice the Bavaria St.
Nicholas. Yet, that does not detract from their beauty or their
popularity. Each of the three markets shown here are large and were
intensely crowded (and a good thing about Hessen is that their cities are among
the best at handling lots of cars and people).
-- Michelstadt is a fabulously big
modern city hidden away in the Odenwald forest, but with one of the
tiniest, better-preserved old cities around. This circular district
with Michelstadt's famous stilted town hall is the perfect place to enjoy
a festival. Indeed, on a rare sunny day in December, thousands of
people went out into the 14-degree F (-10 C) weather to enjoy the
festival. Most crowded Tom's ever seen Michelstadt. (The
Michelstadt travelogue is available here)
tea, large amounts, extra hot
This archway with
the moon and candles was the symbol of the Odenwälder. It sat at
the entrance to the old walled city to invite guests, who on this day had
to walk a long way... Michelstadt has one of the largest parking lots in
Germany but it was 100% full and we had to park about a kilometer
away. Advice? Go early.
Every street, nook, and
cranny in the old town had a booth or a kiddie ride shoved in it.
And the crowds were absolutely elbow-to-elbow. Here's the main
market square with Michelstadt's famous stilted Rathaus with the crowds
cramming the booths lined along the left.
Landesmuseum had its own little market square going, marked by a huge
nativity below the photo and the classic candle fan. This part was
mostly glühwein territory, while the kids went around the old wheel house
(the white building in the background).
You have to explore the
town thoroughly, otherwise you are liable to miss something. We
followed a small group of folks around a seeming dead end only to find
this other market square tucked outside the old city wall. We bought
some linens here.
am Main -- Biggest and best
known city in Hessen (or Germany for that matter). Frankfurt's
Weihnachtsmarkt is spread from just outside the old custom's house (Hauptwache)
to the famous Römerplatz to the banks of the Main and down the main
commercial streets. Its a major draw for the huge numbers of ex-patriates
living in the region, particularly on the nice clear day when we visited.
(The Frankfurt am Main
travelogue is located here)
|We begin this section at
the heart of the Christmas Market, in the fabulous Römerplatz. The
Römer is shown here hosting the brilliant, huge Christmas Tree. The
Römer played host to an art exhibition where local artists (painters,
mostly) peddled their creations, predominantly scenes of Germany.
||This is another shot of
the Römerplatz facing the opposite direction. This was where the
largest huts were, plus a massive carousel. The Main River was to
the right of this photo, and the huts continued along the sidewalks to the
|This shot was taken from a
square next to the Römerplatz, going across the municipal buildings
toward the commercial district. You can see how crowded the streets
||The main commercial street
was lit up wonderful as dusk fell, running all the way to the Hauptwache
just a couple blocks from the train station. Most of the wares sold
here were more 'regular' stuff, the Römerplatz had the fancier stores.
The Sternschueppenmarkt in the Hessian capital is truly unique.
Almost fully secular in its theme (except that it has a nativity), this
Market celebrates images of light -- stars, moons, and lighted artificial
palms. It is also the most modernized, with its huts built with
department-store precision. However, it serves up its visitors with
the same wares, food, and drink as all the others. (The
Wiesbaden travelogue is located here)
|This shot was taken when
we first arrived, pretty close to dusk. The soft blue colors of the
huts built below the Hessian palace enhanced the stars, moons, and huge
lighted Christmas tree. This market extended all the way around the
palace to the front of the City Church.
||After the sun set, we took
this shot of the lighted palms, made by bolting a series of huge
Christmas-lighted metal 'leaves' to a pole. These provided plenty
sufficient light for the market square.