The Christmas Markets of Vienna, Austria

There are many reasons to visit the historic city of Vienna in Austria, but planning a trip in November will treat you with the extra treat of the Christmas markets. The markets in Vienna start in the middle of November, which is earlier than most of the other markets in Europe. We were there two years ago and visited four different Christmas markets that were located near the top sightseeing sites in the city. Although you can certainly visit the Christmas markets during the day, to really enjoy them, you should go at night.

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Glass Ornaments for Sale
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We Still Have One of These Gluhwein Mugs

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Plenty of Crowds at the Markets
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So Many Options for Gifts
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Angels
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Specialty Teas
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Outside of the Cathedral

Obviously there are plenty of hot drinks to be found such as hot chocolate and gluhwein (hot mulled wine), but there are many more things to be found in the markets. Handmade crafts are on display with many of them being for the holiday season as well as items that make excellent gifts for family and friends. Food is certainly another highlight of all of the markets with many choices of bratwurst, roasted chestnuts, pretzels, and a variety of sweets. We actually purchased a candle holder with images of Mozart and Vienna at one of the stalls as a souvenir of our trip.

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Unique Gifts
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Ice Skating at a Market
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Fairies
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Wein Lounge
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Where We Bought our Candle Holder
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Getting Busy
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Colorful Hats
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Perfect Setting for a Market

The markets are a great place to spend time with family and friends or just to stroll as a couple. With so many people gathering to enjoy the spirit of the season, they are certainly places of happiness. One of the markets that we visited in Vienna also included ice skating as they had frozen the walking paths and turned them into a skating rink. It certainly was one of the more unique Christmas markets that we have seen. Clearly Vienna has many reasons to visit at any time of the year such as the palace, opera house, and cathedral, but if you plan your trip during the holidays you will also get to enjoy some of the best Christmas markets in all of Europe.

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Frozen Sidewalk for Ice Skating
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Late in the Day
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One of Four Christmas Markets that We Visited

 

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Christmas Decorations
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One of the Smaller Markets
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Great for the Whole Family
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Handmade Ornaments
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Toys for Sale

 

Capturing History Through the Written Word

In this digital age, we actually still are fans of owning physical books that we can open and read. Throughout history, the sharing of stories by writing them down has been an important part of preserving knowledge about the cultures that they represent. To some extent, everyone who has a web site and shares their stories is continuing in this same tradition, but obviously on a grander scale in this world where we are all connected electronically. One of the things that we find fascinating is when we come across an ancient text during our travels. Whether it is the Book of Kells in Ireland, papyrus hieroglyphs in Cairo, or just an ancient bible in a church, seeing the care given to these books and manuscripts is an important reminder of how much respect needs to be given to what has been written by our ancestors.

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Ancient Bible in a Church in Cairo
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Library at Trinity College in Dublin
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Writings and Books in the Sigmund Freud Museum
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Writing on Papyrus in the Cairo Museum
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Historic Books in a Church
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More Papyrus Writings
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People Enjoying the Trinity College Library
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Ancient Bible
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More from Freud

 

Christmas Markets in Europe

We were told by many people about how wonderful the Christmas markets in Germany and other places would be and they were certainly right. Whether in our home town at the time, Frankfurt, or some of the places we visited during the holiday season like Prague, Vienna, Strasbourg, Cologne, and others, we were fortunate to go to several different Christmas markets. We had made the assumption that each city would have one central market that everyone would visit, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Each city has several different markets, usually one near the main cathedral, but then there are a half dozen or so more markets at different popular areas as well.

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Christmas Market in Frankfurt
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Market in Prague, Czech Republic
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Festive Stall in Strasbourg, France

In today’s world, unfortunately, any event that brings a large number of people together also means that it becomes a target for those who wish to harm people. That means that a common sight at most of the markets that we visited were armed police and plenty of barricades. Fortunately, that doesn’t stop most people from going out and having a good time, shopping, drinking, and eating at the various stalls in the markets. The Christmas markets are truly wonderful and it would be a shame if people didn’t bring their families out to enjoy them. For children, the markets can be a wonderland with all of the decorations, candy, music, and general merriment. They are a playground for adults as well with the gluhwein, sausages, and gift stalls for shopping.

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Stuffed Animals in Hochheim, Germany
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The Second of Four Christmas Markets in Vienna
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A Little of Everything in Cologne

You might ask us what our favorite Christmas market was, but we couldn’t choose a favorite as they were all great in their own ways. Perhaps one of the most unique might have been the one in Vienna, Austria, where they turned the sidewalks into skating rinks. Although the market at the harbor in Cologne was also pretty interesting with its nautical theme. Of course Frankfurt has a special place in our heart since it was our home for a time.

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Nautical Market in Cologne
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Skating at the Market in Vienna, Austria
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Gluhwein in Frankfurt

Obviously there were plenty of beautiful Christmas trees at each of the markets and they are beautiful both during the day when you can see the ornaments as well as at night when the lights shine brightly. One of the biggest trees that we might have seen was actually in Brasov, Romania, which we visited just shortly after Christmas and the markets had just completed. There is nothing like a beautiful Christmas tree to get you in the mood for the holidays.

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Christmas Tree in Brasov, Romania
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Christmas Tree in the Old Town Square of Prague
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Christmas Tree Frankfurt, Germany

So, the advice that we would give to anyone traveling in Europe during the holiday season is to get out and enjoy the Christmas markets wherever you can. We have even gone to a wonderful Christmas market here in Denver, Colorado, and intend to visit one in Chicago over this holiday as we visit our youngest daughter. Our very first Christmas market was in Stratford-Upon-Avon in England, but the tented stalls were nothing in comparison to the wooden stalls with their ornate decorations that we saw in Germany. If you do go, have a gluhwein for us, but be careful, sometimes they add rum to them and the alcohol can sneak up on you.

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Christmas Market in Stratford-Upon-Avon
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Christmas Ornaments in Denver, Colorado
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Christmas Market in W├╝rzburg, Germany