Xmas in Hessen

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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 -- 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)

Munchies:  Black 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.

The Hessische 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.

Frankfurt 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 riverfront.
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 were. 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.

Wiesbaden -- 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.

 Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2005 Tom Galvin



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