First Christmas markets were held in the Middle Ages in Germany, and soon they became an integral part of winter celebrations around Europe. Nowadays they are one of the main magnets for tourists during the month of December, when cities get covered with snowflakes and angels made from tiny lights, and winter winds intoxicate cold air with a spicy smell of mulled wine.
Winter travel is not exactly my cup of tea. My favourite places during traveling are always outdoors, and I don’t find joy in feeling wet snow in my shoes and frost bites on my nose. For that reason, before I started staying in Europe, Christmas markets were never on my agenda as a traveler. My first year in Germany was also the first time that I tried a cup of hot wine while watching tiny angels made from feathers, swaying at the nearby stall.
Nowadays I’m waiting for Christmas markets to start like a little kid. December is a grey and rainy month, which gets hectic by day, approaching the end of the year. Colorful decorations, lights, sweet smells and music in the streets make wintering a much more enjoyable experience!
The story today is not about a German Christmas market, though it won’t take you too far away geographically. I will share with you a visual story form Strasbourg – a French city and a heart of EU in the Alsace region (many pictures are taken with phone).
Christmas market in Strasbourg, that is also called Capitale de Noel, is considered to be one of the (if not THE) grandest and most beautiful in entire Europe.
Without a doubt, Strasbourg is a gorgeous city even without any Christmas decorations. Its unique architecture takes you a few centuries back, and toy-like houses look as if they almost were not real (just like in Colmar, my favourite place in Alsace).
Christmas transforms Strasbourg into a completely different city. Not just the area of the Christmas market but the entire city centre is covered with lights and decorations.
Shops, hotels, even regular house owners – everyone seems to take part in the festive transformation of Strasbourg, and their imagination knows no limits!
I was very touched by small fairy tales which were taking place on the roofs of regular buildings, hotels or restaurants! Many of the creatures moved and almost looked alive, tricking you into a belief that you are a part of a fairy tale, too.
Even surrounded by all the festive beauty it is easy to find a reason to complain about though – the amount of people enjoying the Capital of Christmas is enormous. Unfortunately or not, it’s become a reality in many stunning places on Earth (with a few exceptions like the Catlins). I choose to be happy about the fact that so many people can enjoy these destinations, but an ability to deal with the crowd might come in handy!
For me, the best part of winter festive season is that anticipation of a miracle and magic in the air. Christmas cities like Strasbourg make these feelings even stronger. What is your favourite Christmas market in Europe?
All photos are taken by my favourite travel companion @pickphocket.
To get to Strasbourg form Stuttgart or Karlsruhe just hop on a bus, and you will be there in 2 hours!