Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Typical German Christmas Market

You've already seen pictures of my hometown, Ludwigsburg's, Christmas Market on my blog. But actually, ours isn't all that typical - it is for Ludwigsburg, of course, but it is rather unusual in the way it is set up. Ludwigsburg's layout is different from that of many other German towns: It didn't naturally grow from a small settlement through hundreds or even thousands of years, but it was planned and designed in order to complement the palace built for Eberhard Ludwig and his successors, the Dukes of Wuerttemberg.

In Baroque times, Man wanted to prove his ability to dominate nature. Woods, hedgerows, fields, roads, streams and lakes - everything had to be symmetrically laid out to suit the taste of the ruling classes. Ludwigsburg was no exception. It has a large market square with two churches facing each other, and the roads leading off it and connecting it to the palace were all straight and symmetrical when they were first built.
This makes for a rather unique, large market square, and the layout of our Christmas market follows the rules of Baroque planning.

Not so in many other towns, where timbered and half-timbered houses, hundreds of years older than anything you can see in Ludwigsburg, dominate the narrow cobbled streets, and often, a church lies at the centre instead of a palace.

Bad Wimpfen ("Bad" in German is not the opposite of good, it means spa) has reputedly one of the most beautiful and oldest (if not THE oldest) Christmas Market in Germany. The town is about an hour's drive from Ludwigsburg, and on Friday, two friends and I decided to go there for the day.

The town's administration has wisely provided a large parking area outside the old town - back then, streets were not made to hold anything larger than an ox cart, and even that must have been difficult to navigate at times.

Walking up the hill from the parking lot, the first impression of Bad Wimpfen was this:


 
It reminded me of Besigheim, a beautiful old town I've shown you here. We stopped for a drink in the rooms to the left underneath that big gate tower.


As you can see, there were many people around, but it wasn't so crowded as to feel uncomfortable.

This one is especially for Kay!
The afternoon light was dwindling rapidly, and soon it was so dark I wasn't sure whether my camera was actually going to pick up anything. (I have deliberatly not brightened up the pictures with IrfanView, so that you can see the place more or less the way we saw it.)
 
Inside the church, view towards the organ

We stopped for something to eat and a rest after we had been to have a look inside the very beautiful church on top of the hill. A short walk later, we had covered the entire market and seen every stall (and spent very little money - we were there to look mainly, not to buy). 

It had been a pleasant afternoon, spent with friends I don't get to see more than once a year, and where I normally don't go. I am glad I took the day off and did that!  

18 comments:

  1. What a beautiful town and good that you took the day off to spend with friends. Warm greetings and happy holidays!

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    1. Thank you, Blogoratti, and likewise!

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  2. I love this post! And yes, I love the heart all lit up with lights! You know, I can't say that I have ever seen that before!
    I would love to see Germany I think, you have made me love it from your blog!
    Oh, and I wish I could see the inside of the church more clearly but I know it was dark, I did the same thing when we were in Lewes...took photos inside a church and you can hardly see what I have photographed, and it was still daylight then!

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    1. The church was beautiful! If you go to this entry on wikipedia, you can see what it looks like insight.
      I am glad my posts manage to convey some of the love I have for my home town in particular and my country in general.

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  3. Bad Wimpfen seems like a special place and looking on Wikipedia I can see that it has a long and interesting history. Thank you for enlightening us about the prefix "Bad". I never knew that.

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    1. I like it that you went to look up Bad Wimpfen on wikipedia, Neil. It's one of those things I like so much about blogging - we are inspired to learn more about a subject, and sometimes we are the ones who inspire others to do the same.

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  4. Lovely photos! I know I've said this before, but I want to share some of your photos with my friend Alexander when I see him again. He's getting a master's degree in German language and history, and has been to Germany several times. He would love your blog!

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer! They were just very quick snaps, all of them - in the middle of a bustling crowd and with my friends wanting to walk further on, I didn't choose positions and angles etc. carefully.
      If Alexander has internet access, he is of course welcome to read my blog - just send him the link :-)

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  5. What a great history lesson and a lovely look at a simple village and a beautiful Christmas market square. Very interesting, indeed.

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    1. Bad Wimpfen wouldn't be happy to be called a village, I believe - although it is small enough at less than 7.000 inhabitants, but their official status is that of a town.
      Glad you found my little excursion interesting, thank you!

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  6. It looks like a charming old town - and market. I know Germany is famous for its Christmas markets. I've never been to Germany at Christmas time. But in 1990 (in the summer) I visited Oberammergau, the village famous for its passion play performed every 10th year. (An unforgettable experience.) They also had (probably still have) a shop that sold Christmas things, and only Christmas things, all year round. It was a strange feeling, stepping into that Christmas atmosphere in the middle of summer. I bought a small metal window ornament in the outline of a crib, which is still dangling in my living room window every December :)

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    1. There's such an all-year-Christmas shop in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, too. Many years ago, we went there on a family day out (not specifically to the shop, but to the town). It is very picturesque and popular with tourists. We were there on a hot summer's day, too, and I remember how strange it felt to walk into that shop, Christmas songs playing and Christmas things everywhere! The (mainly American) tourists bought armfuls of "stuff".
      If you ever feel like travelling to Germany, let me know, Monica - I'd happily show you around my home town!

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  7. You often give me lovely memories. We were in Bad Wimpfen more than once......Lovely days...I would never have thought of translating this as "spa" because we didn't use that word much if ever up until the 90s...I always thought of those Bad places as "Bath" though the Bath, Ohio where I live came by its name quite differently and has no healing waters or hot springs anywhere!

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    1. It is nice to know that my blog does that for you, Kristi.
      You're right, the literal translation of Bad would of course be Bath. But (at least in England) towns with healing waters are often called Spa towns (such as Harrogate), and I was thinking along those lines when I wrote my post.

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  8. Not much for me to add that hasn't already been said. Bad Wimpfen and the market look charming and a far cry from the Christmas retail madness of the cities.

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    1. It really is a charming place, and very different from what's going on at the big retail stores and malls.
      My friends and I have agreed on going back next year in the summer to see what the place is like then.

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  9. You really are lucky to live in such a wonderful place, and not far from so many others. This is just beautiful.

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    1. I really am lucky to live here, to live this kind of life and being able to share some of it here!

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