During my Mom’s visit to Germany in December last year, we made a point of trying to visit as many Christmas markets as possible. We visited the local markets in Ludwigsburg, Stuttgart, and Esslingen, hopped across the border to see the Strasbourg market in France, and even visited the chocolate festival in Tübingen. We travelled the furthest, though, to see the famous Striezelmarkt in Dresden, Germany’s oldest Christmas market, and I’m only now getting the chance to tell you about it!
We decided to take the train to Dresden from northern Bavaria where we were visiting S’s family. The train ride itself took about 3 hours but the time passed quite quickly. Once we arrived at the train station in Dresden, we were greeted by an enormous and beautifully decorated Christmas tree and a small arts and crafts market. It certainly set the tone for the festive day ahead!
We followed the crowds into the inner city where we passed a few Christmas markets along the way. After our long train ride, we decided to stop for lunch at Coselpalais Restaurant & Grand Cafe which came highly recommended to us by S’s parents. The restaurant is easy to spot due to its yellow exterior and grand baroque style. Built in 1765, the Coselpalais was severely damaged in WWII but was restored to its original form after an elaborate reconstruction. It is one of the most popular cafes in the historic old town and for good reason – their cakes are legendary! When we stepped inside, we were smitten by all the Christmas decorations and the elegant atmosphere.
After a hearty lunch, we decided to tour a bit of the old town while it was still daylight. Dresden is known for its historic baroque and rococo city centre and the famous Frauenkirche. The 18th century church was ruined in the war and left unrestored as a war memorial for 50 years before it was finally reconstructed between 1994 to 2005.
After a bit of sightseeing, we beelined for the Striezelmarkt in the Altmarkt square. To say it was crowded would be an enormous understatement – it was probably the busiest Christmas market I’ve ever been to and I’ve been to the Christmas market in Nuremberg which most people would agree is the most popular Christmas market in Germany.
The Striezelmarkt is known for selling traditional Christmas gifts, toys and decorations that originate from the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) located only a few kilometres outside of Dresden. In fact, most of the Christmas markets in Germany are still supplied with wooden decorations like ornaments and Schwibbogen (decorative candle arches) from this region. Dresden is also famous for its Stollen, a sweet Christmas bread studded with dried fruits and often topped with powdered sugar. Dresden Christstollen is only produced by 130 bakeries in Dresden – the recipe is a highly guarded secret. Only stollen produced by these bakeries bear the stollen seal. If you’re looking for an authentic Christmas treat from Dresden, then stollen is definitely the way to go.
We walked around the Striezelmarkt, warmed ourselves up with mugs of Glühwein and admired the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid, with a height of 14 metres. (Can you see how packed it was at the market?!)
It was time to start heading back toward the train station for our long journey home. Along the way, we grabbed some snacks (Lángos for me, of course, and some Kräppelchen, little fried yeast pastries similar to donuts, for S). We caught the most beautiful pink and purple sunset on our walk which remains one of my favourite memories of our trip to Dresden.
The Dresden Striezelmarkt is lovely, but be prepared for enormous crowds if you do go. Granted we went of a Saturday afternoon, but I can imagine that the market is busy every day that it’s open.
The 582nd Dresden Striezelmarkt is open from November 24th to December 24th, 2016 at the Dresden Altmarkt square. The booths are open from 10am to 9pm. For more information about the market, please visit the Dresden Striezelmarket website here.
Have you been to the Dresden Striezelmarkt? What did you think? Did you try the stollen? (We didn’t because the crowds were insane, but I regret not buy some there!)
P.S. Looking for some more German Christmas market inspiration? My take on the Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market, the Esslingen Christmas and Medieval Market, and the unique Rudersberger Adventswald, a Christmas market in a pop-up forest.