Virtuoso Life - November/December 2017 - 137
Explore Thuringia: The Christmas State of Germany
Germany beckons travelers with a delightful blend of medieval towns,
cosmopolitan cities, and a treasure trove of cultural, artistic, and
architectural attractions. Thuringia, in the heart of Germany, is the
perfect place to fulfill your holiday desires - especially at Christmastime.
Discover a world of history in enchanting
Thuringia. Centrally located to both Berlin
and Munich, the tiny state spans unspoiled
countryside and beautifully preserved Old
Towns filled with legendary castles, formidable
fortresses, beautiful churches, and rich
Christmas Magic in Thuringia
Every year, around the first Advent weekend,
the Christmas Market season starts in
Thuringia. In festivities throughout the
region, more than 70 holiday markets beckon
travelers to take part in Thuringia's culinary
and musical traditions. Town centers and the
courtyards of medieval castles shine bright
with illuminations; the aroma of mulled wine
and the sounds of traditional Christmas carols
are in the air, warming hearts and setting the
mood for festive days.
Scenic Erfurt Christmas Market
Erfurt Christmas market, held since 1850,
attracts some two million visitors each year
and its approximately 200 wooden huts fill
Domplatz (Cathedral Square) in the town's
center. There, a splendid Christmas tree
stands approximately 66 feet tall, with the
monumental ensemble of Saint Mary's
Cathedral and the Church of Saint Severus
as its backdrop. Close by is Erfurt's Nativity
scene, with 14 near-life-size wooden figures.
The market is replete with regional culinary
favorites such as Thuringian Bratwurst and
Erfurter Schittchen, a legendary seasonal
stollen. What to bring home? Handcrafted
items such as Christmas baubles, traditional
blue-dye fabrics, and fine pottery.
For true holiday magic, visitors write wishes
on porcelain plates before tossing them from
a skywalk into a ravine, in a ritual believed to
make dreams come true.
Cake from Thuringia
Christmas at Medieval Castles
At the magnificent Wartburg Castle, a UNESCO
World Heritage site in Eisenach, the Christmas
market in the courtyard radiates charm with
medieval-style entertainment, gifts, and snacks.
Visitors meet traveling merchants and all kinds
of artisans - candlemakers, glassblowers,
stonemasons, herbalists, and more - as
musicians create a festive atmosphere.
Leuchtenburg Castle, majestically overlooking
picturesque Saale Valley near the town of Jena,
holds a Market of Wishes at Christmastime.
Home of Christmas Baubles
Thuringians love Christmas decorations,
especially glass baubles. No surprise:
The traditional ornaments originated
in Thuringia. More than 160 years ago,
glassblowers in Lauscha, a small town in
the Thuringian Forest, began to create strings
of beads and small glass shapes, such as
fruits and cones, for their Christmas trees.
These new decorations were exhibited at trade
fairs and later became known all over the
world. The glassblowing tradition still thrives in
Thuringia. Visitors find the largest selection of
glass ornaments at the Lauscha Christmas Ball
market, usually held on the first two Sundays
of Advent (dates can vary). The ornaments are,
of course, available at other Christmas markets
throughout the region.
Connect with your Virtuoso®
travel advisor to plan your trip.
Photo credits, clockwise, left to right: Andreas Weise / Thüringer Tourismus GmbH; Thüringer Tourismus GmbH; Meeta K. Wolff / Thüringer Tourismus GmbH