Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weinachtmarkt, Trier

Every year when we think about taking a vacation for Christmas break  our thoughts turn to warmer climes and sunny beaches, even though we know in our hearts that the holidays in warm climates just don't seem right somehow.  Those fake Christmas trees flocked with foam feel about as authentic as the shopping mall Santa, if not as creepy.  Christmas carols about chestnuts roasting and sleigh bells ringing sound eerily out of place.  Anyone experiencing Christmas in a place without winter knows the melancholy feeling of being disconnected from the holiday.

For the opposite effect one need only visit Trier, Germany and take in the Weinachtmarkt. Why Trier, particularly?  Trier wasn't of particular interest to Nazi Germany and as a result was not bombed out of existence by the liberating forces...the old buildings, some dating back to 200 AD are still standing and gracing the cobbled roads with their mystery and majesty. 

 Coming from the North you see the Roman Black Gate (Porta Nigra) which dates from 180-200 AD.  Do not miss the opportunity to tour this amazing structure. It is in remarkable shape inside for it's age and the bas relief sculptured walls will not disappoint. It is well worth climbing all those stairs.

The markt, itself  is located in the Haupt Markt just a short walk from Porta Nigra,  with the imposing Dom presiding over the antique carousel and wood fired bread ovens. To find it, just head South towards the massive spires.  If you have any interest in history the Dom (more formally The Cathedral of Saint Peter) built in 349 - 386 AD, is a collection of religious art dating from medieval times with notable Medieval, Rococo, and Post Modern pieces standing side by side.  It has been the Bishops seat for the Catholic church since it's infancy. With constant up-dating with each new Bishop trying to out-do his predecessor. It is truly a unique collection of art and history.  You can take a tour for a fee but you can wander freely for nothing and spend as much or as little time as you like.  There is a tourist's guide brochure that will give you more detailed information and the entire structure is worth at least an hour to explore and well worth the time.

Just outside the cathedral you will find a village of temporary Tudor style booths selling food and crafts that will surely please.  We found an entire booth filled with nutcrackers of every shape and size, next to another filled with ceramic candle sconces with intricate designs, followed by another filled to over flowing with garlands and wreaths.  One thing that surprised me is that the shopping wasn't as financially crushing as what I experienced in England or France.  I wasn't in constant sticker shock but felt that I was finding wonderful bargains among the lovely Christmas crafts...and as anyone soon discovers "made in Germany" means "made really, really well".

All this open air (and by open air I mean open and o-my-gosh it's cold air) will certainly give you an appetite so be sure to stop by the Bratwurst stand and also grab a gluvine (hot spiced wine) from the gluvine stand while you are at it.  You will be substantially warmer and infinitely happier.  Gluvine comes in a ceramic mug with the year and market on the side -- great for warming cold hands and waning spirits.  Other "must haves" are wood oven bread piping hot and roasted chestnuts (also great for cold hands).  What could be more like Christmas?

Before you go be sure to check the schedule...there will be concerts and puppet shows not to mention the coronation of the "gluvine queen" and other special events throughout the market time.  The markt runs from around November 25th to December 23rd.  

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