Written by Staff Writer
If you visit Cologne or Prague this summer you’ll notice several unexpected monuments: Christkindlesmarkt, Choral Kunststrasse, St. Anne’s Abbey and the Museum of the Cross — all traditional Christmas market sites — may have to shut down for renovations.
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And that’s not all: the annual Ansgar Market will be closed from September 25 to December 24 due to a planned building extension, while what was once the famous Christmas Door in Berlin’s Schoenbrunn Museum is being completely rebuilt and will remain closed until August 1.
Old favorites too…
Of the 30 Christmas markets we recently visited, which were put together by London’s GrrlScientist, five were in Germany — four in Cologne and the other in Karlsruhe. Unsurprisingly, there is a trade-off.
At Anton Bauer’s small stall in Cologne’s Town Hall Square, customers soon begin lining up to take home freshly baked pastries such as a moist almond cake. When he began selling there in 2002, they numbered around 40. This year? “We’re probably up to about 300,” says Bauer.
The market’s popularity is because of its lovely location and the way Bauer makes sure his treats are in demand. “I go to all the stations in the Christmas market, line up outside (and wait),” he says. “I keep in contact with everyone. I always contact. Every day. I’m here for a lot of days.”
After he doesn’t see someone with a tasty cake in his reach, he gives it to them himself; without fail, they hand it to him. He starts the ordering, so people know what they are getting. “When you see people and they are getting what they want, you see the response in the whole marketplace,” he says.
Even though Bauer and Bauer’s market isn’t closing, its proximity to the old market, which was opened in 1925, means visitors will miss out on much of the special atmosphere that both have built up over the years.
Returning to Spiegel’s classic market in the Medieval Cathedral Quarter of Cologne? Now that’s magic. Filled with trees, snowy bales of hay and twinkling poinsettias, it is also surrounded by the market’s commercial complex, so you can visit it after it’s closed and browse the many gift shops for some shopping.
One or two shops were there for almost every stall. Visitors could even buy baked goods from one of the few stalls with the traditional wooden batter pans, though they’re far from hard to find in Cologne. A visitor who accompanied us on a tour of the market saw vendors hand out bags of sweets to passers-by, and a woman selling silver apples to passers-by in a nearby street.
Here’s a rundown of the European Christmas markets we visited.