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Rothenburg Christmas Market

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany


ABOVE: These buildings overlook the Christmas Market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber's Marktplatz.

Christmas markets, or Christkindlmärkte, are a centuries-old holiday tradition in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. They offer locals and visitors alike the chance to shop for decorations at open-air stalls in the heart of the city while noshing on foods that range from sausages to Christmas cookies to hot spiced Glühwein.

One of Germany's most celebrated Christmas markets is the annual Reiterlesmarkt in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a walled medieval city of 12,000 along Upper Bavaria's Romantic Road. From the end of November until just before Christmas, the market--which dates back to the 15th century and is one of the oldest in Germany--attracts thousands of visitors who come for the magical atmosphere of shopping amid patrician buildings that date back to the Middle Ages.

During the Reiterlesmarkt, the city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber offers special Christmas events such as puppet shows, outdoor brass-band concerts, guided tourchlight walks outside the city walls, an organ concert and trumpet gala in St. Jacob's Church, and a concert of the local youth orchestra in the Reichstadthalle. Religious services take place in the St. Jacob's Church (Lutheran) and the St. John's Church (Catholic) on Sundays and on December 24, 25, 26, 31, and January 1.

Christmas all year round

If you can't make it to Rothenburg ob der Tauber for the Reiterlesmarkt, fear not: You can visit the Weihnachtsmuseum, or German Christmas Museum, throughout the year. The museum, which opened in 2000, is operated by Käthe Wohlfahrt, an international chain of year-round Christmas shops whose flagship "Christmas Village" store is located just off Rothenburg's Marktplatz.

For more information, see:

Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Our 8-page article has sightseeing tips, hotel recommendations, and links to local tourist resources.

Learn how Rothenburg's Christmas market got its name.

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