Visit Alsace at Christmas is to do it to one of the regions that most deeply experiences this era of Europe. All its cities, which have precious historical centers of the Middle Ages, enjoy spectacular Christmas decorations and no less magical markets.
From Strasbourg but also Colmar, the localities of this northeastern region of France celebrate a Christmas full of magic and traditions in scenarios that seem taken, precisely, from a advent tale. To the previous activities, you must add Christmas choir contests (the Noëlies) and delicious gastronomic customs. So that you decide to travel to Alsace at Christmas, we are going to explain everything that this Gallic area bordering on Germany y Switzerland.
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We have just mentioned that the markets are one of the great traditions of Alsace at Christmas. But there are other very interesting ones. The quintessential Christmas characters are Hans Trapp y cristkindel. Although they are two antithetical figures, you will surely see them at Christmas events in the region. The first becomes a transcript of our Sack man and frightens the children who have been disobedient by taking them away in his bag.
Instead, the second is a kind of good angel or fairy who gives gifts to the little ones who have behaved well. The figure of Cristkindel was introduced by Martin Luther with its Protestant Reformation to reduce prominence to Catholic traditions. And, in some places, it is identified with the Baby Jesus. In what the region does not differ from other European ones is in the taste for nativity scenes or cribs. And, likewise, in the street lighting with appropriate reasons for these dates.
On the other hand, as it could not be less, Alsace has its own gastronomic customs at Christmas. They are recipes that you can savor in any of its Christmas markets. As for the drinks, the mulled wine. It is prepared in two ways: with red wine, citrus fruits and a little cinnamon or with white wine, anise and nutmeg. He too Apple juice It is classic in celebrations.
As for food, it is usually sweet in preparations such as cookies, biscuits called brédalas o spiced honey buns. But perhaps even more typical are the mannele, small figures of men made with brioche dough. Likewise, along with the Christmas recipes, you have other traditional ones from the area that are eaten all year round, also at this time. For example, in many Christmas meals the sauerkraut, quintessential Alsace dish. They are cabbage leaves that have undergone lactic fermentation and are cut into thin strips. We can tell you the same about Baeckeoffe, a stew prepared with potatoes, onions and lamb, pork and beef previously marinated in white wine and juniper berries.
Also among the customs of Alsace at Christmas is the tree decoration with different objects, almost always coming from the local ceramic crafts. You will find precisely this and many other things in the region's Christmas markets.
It is the most populous city in Alsace with almost a million inhabitants. Due to its size, it not only has one Christmas market, but several. Or rather, it has a single market with different locations. All of them are found in the space formed by the grand ille or declared medieval historic center Heritage.
In this market you can find everything. But the city also offers you other landmarks. So, in the Kleber square the one who presumes to be is placed tallest christmas tree in the world. However, perhaps the nerve center of these celebrations in Strasbourg is in the broglie square, where the Christkindelsmarik o Market of the Child Jesus.
On the other hand, since you visit the Alsatian city, be sure to see its main monuments. Start with your awesome Notre Dame Cathedral, a magnificent example of flamboyant Gothic, with its astronomical clock. And it continues through other churches such as the Romanesque San Esteban or of Saint Peter the Old, which houses spectacular altarpieces.
But you should also pay attention to the streets of the old town, full of medieval houses in black and white wood typical of the area. Among these stands out the building of the Old Customs and, above all, the spectacular House Kammerzell, which combines the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Finally, don't stop watching the Rohan Palace, example of French classicism; the Civil Hospital, in the baroque style, and the Museum of Fine Arts, with paintings of Goya, Veronese, Tintoretto o Rubens.
This small town of about seventy thousand inhabitants has preserved all its medieval essence, which makes it the perfect setting for Alsatian Christmas. In fact, there are also many traditional Gothic and Renaissance wooden houses. It even has a river, the leek, which circulates through small canals to recreate Christmas scenes.
The markets are distributed according to the objects they sell. Thus, in the one of the Dominican square you will find gifts; in that of Joan of Arc food and decorative objects; in the area of the Old Customs, crafts, and in the Little Venice neighborhood, famous for the aforementioned channels, you have activities for children.
On the other hand, since you are in Colmar, visit his Saint Martin's Cathedral, in the Gothic style, and very close to it the Corps de Garde, a Renaissance building that served as a barracks. You should also see the dominican church, which has magnificent stained glass windows and a spectacular altarpiece by Martin Schongauer. But more curious will be the House of the Heads, decorated by more than a hundred figures of faces and, above all, the Pfister House, with a picturesque Gothic style. Finally, do not stop approaching the Unterlinden Museum, which houses jewels such as the Isemheim Altarpiece, due to Matthias Grünewald.
Just eight kilometers from Colmar you have this other beautiful town with just fifteen hundred inhabitants. Arranged in concentric circles around his the church square, has been listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Precisely in that central part there is a Christmas market where you can find almost everything.
But, in addition, you have to see in Eguisheim its church of San Pedro and San Pablo, which was built between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries following the lines of the late Romanesque. Likewise, its medieval walkway with its traditional houses from that time is interesting. And also him bas castle and renaissance fountain which is located in the market square and holds the category of historical monument.
But perhaps the great symbols of the town are its three medieval towers built in reddish sandstone. As a curiosity, we will tell you that they belonged to a powerful family that was burned at the stake during the call War of the Six Pence. Since then, they have been in the possession of the Bishopric of Strasbourg.
The city of Mulhouse has been linked to the textile industry for centuries. In fact, it even has the Textile Printing Museum. It was opened to the public in 1955 and houses more than six million pieces. In addition to temporary exhibitions, you can see machinery and authentic works of textile art from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.
Therefore, it will not surprise you that Christmas is decorated with fabrics in this city of about one hundred twenty-five thousand inhabitants. Competitions are even organized to present the best Christmas textile work. And, of course, these pieces are in their Advent markets.
But you should also visit in Mulhouse the St. Stephen's Church, a Gothic-style wonder whose tower you can climb. Needless to say, the views are spectacular. We also recommend that you see the building of the Town hall, which will surprise you with its pink façade. It is a Renaissance construction in which its entrance also stands out, made up of two symmetrical stairs. No less spectacular is its interior. Therefore, entry is allowed every day except holidays.
Also, in the reunion square, the nerve center of the town, has Renaissance buildings such as the mieg house, built in the XNUMXth century, although its tower is from the XNUMXth century. And, to the east, you will find the Chapel of San Juan, built in the XIII by the order of maltese. Finally, on the outskirts of the city you have the Ecomuseum of Alsace, a sample of the rural architecture of the region.
We end our tour of Alsace at Christmas by visiting the Sélestat market. This small town of about twenty thousand inhabitants has such an Advent tradition that it boasts of have installed the first Christmas tree. At least, it is the first of which there is a written record. Because a document from 1521 already speaks of the one who was placed in its streets.
Logically, Sélestat also has its Christmas markets. But the tributes of this town to Advent do not end there. Under the arches of the precious gothic church of saint george there are trees that collect the entire history of Christmas decoration. And, likewise, in the Sainte Foy church, you can see a chandelier adorned with 173 Meisenthal glass Christmas balls.
On the other hand, about ten kilometers from Sélestat, you will find the impressive Haut-Koenigsbourg castle, built around the year 1100. As an anecdote, we will tell you that in the XNUMXth century it served as a refuge for the so-called bandit knights, who devastated the region with their looting.
In conclusion, we have shown you the best of Alsace at Christmas. However, all the towns in this area of France They have a great Christmas tradition and markets. Therefore, you can also visit the Obernai, which is beautifully illuminated at sunset; the one of Kaysersberg, full of aromas; or the one of Ribeauvillé, a town that has three castles. Go ahead and visit Alsace at Christmas and enjoy its genuine atmosphere.