Franconian Christmas treasures
The holiday season in Germany is often said to be magical, old-world and filled with traditional beauty. This is especially true in the Franconia region of Bavaria. Franconia is comprised of three parts: Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia. The area of Upper Franconia holds special charm during this season, particularly the picturesque cities of Bamberg and Forchheim.
For a beautiful and traditional Christmas experience, visit the nostalgic city of Bamberg. Once a seat of the Holy Roman Empire, today it has a population of 70,000 people and is located 40 miles north of Nuremberg, on the Regnitz River. The historic center of Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is host to a beautiful Christmas market. Comprised of more than 70 quaint stands, vendors offer culinary delights, handmade decorations, textiles, and hot beverages, including wine, beer and liquid chocolate. While in the market, be sure to sample the amazing tasty treats: snowball pastries, potato pancakes with applesauce, Nürnberger Bratwursts, or lovely plates of Christmas cookies. An interesting tradition here is the Christmas mangers spread throughout the city and outlying areas. Within the old city center are 36 nativity-scene stations for visitors to view — which give Bamberg its nickname of “Nativity Town.”
Filled with friendly, spirited citizens, Bamberg is an easy city to fall in love with — especially during the holiday season. Festive decorations, delicious culinary specialties and lovely half-timbered buildings all lend an old-world feel to this well-preserved city. The Christmas market is located in the city center, Maximiliansplatz, with parking located underneath the market (and around the city). This year’s market is Nov. 30 - Dec. 23, Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Charming buildings, a quaint city square with a huge fir tree, pony rides for children and mouthblown glass ornaments are just a few of the special treats you will find in Forchheim, located 16 miles south of Bamberg and just 23 miles north of Nuremberg. This 1,210-year-old small city is a delight any time of year, but especially during the Christmas season. A favorite attraction of its Christmas market is the half-timbered city hall (built in 1523), which is decorated as a huge Advent calendar. Each year, 23 windows and one large door are decorated like doors on an advent calendar. Every evening at 6:30 p.m., a different door is opened. The last door is opened at noon on Christmas Eve, at which time angels escort a brand new car from city hall to the public marketplace. All month long prior to the event, raffle tickets have been sold, and on Christmas Eve, one lucky person will receive a brand new vehicle.
The Christmas market in Forchheim is lovely because beautiful little stalls are spread around the quaint city center. One may enjoy delicious specialty items, such as gingerbread, warm beer and wine, Gulasch, and crepes. There are a couple of carnival rides for children and a much-loved pony-riding stall. Finally, inside city hall, one may visit the stands of various artists and merchants, and watch an expert glassblower. This year’s market is Dec.1 - 24, with daily hours of noon to 8 p.m. On Christmas Eve the market is open from 9 a.m. to noon.
To capture the traditional, quaint Franconian Christmas experience, visit Bamberg and Forchheim. Their historic beauty, traditional culinary delights and friendly citizens will warm your spirit for the holidays and beyond.