Deck the Halls in Dresden
IF YOU’RE ALL ABOUT THE FESTIVE FOOD…
Things the Germans like, in order: 1) Winning all the sports ever. Ever! 2) White Asparagus. 3) Festive Markets.
Dresden is certainly no stranger to a Christmas market. In fact, it has the largest number of them in the eastern part of the country and is one of the few cities that are able to claim the title of being one of the OG hosts of such seasonal events. You aren’t going to be disappointed by any of the markets in the Baroque city of Dresden, but one that you might want to pay a bit of extra attention to is Striezelmarkt.
The blaze of lights, the smell of gingerbread and Christmas music spread good tidings across Altmarkt Square, where the market is held. With several little stalls offering beautiful crafts and handmade delights, I’ve heard something about the stuff merchants sell being good. However, I’d be lying if I said I 100% knew. That’s because, when it comes to Striezelmarkt, visitors are more about the bratwurst than the bits and bobs; they’re more into the glühwein than the gifts. Yep, get ready foodies: Striezelmarkt is the one for you!
The scent of cinnamon and warm mulled wine floats high into the sky. Lights twinkle and carols linger in the air, forming the unique character of Dresden’s market. Ok, it’s been around for 584 years; they’ve had a bit of practice. But that simply makes it all the more special because, at Striezelmarkt, it’s all about local tradition. It gives the market a quintessential charm, something that’s specifically Dresden. You’ll struggle to find anywhere else quite like it beyond the city’s walls.
Maybe it’s all down to the local traditions and delicacies on offer. Regional specialties are popular here – Mountain woodcrafts, Moravian stars, all sorts of lovely little delights that make perfect Christmas gifts for your nearest and dearest. Of course, a chunk of Dresdner Stollen fruit loaf under the light of the step pyramid of the Erzebirge (Ore Mountains) wouldn’t go amiss either! Actually, Stollen fruit loaf plays a pretty big part in all this. The word 'Striezel' actually refers to the cake. It is traditionally made around this time of year and can also found in other parts of Germany, but in this area Stollen is reputed to represent the entrance to the mines in the nearby Erzgebirge range.
Who knew that a city’s mining history and a cake could be linked? The mountains are only located a couple of kilometres outside Dresden, right near the Czech border.
The romantic and festive charm of Striezelmarkt is something that is so specific to the region that you’ll never find another market quite like it. It’s a secret little trove of culinary treasure, hidden by the mountains. Visitors can watch carvers, chefs, bakers and artists do their thing in action, right in front of them at the market. They work in the little wooden chalets, producing their delicacies and handmade crafts for all to see.
A visit to Dresden during the festive period is the Christmas present you didn’t know you needed. Descend into the square with indulgence on your mind – whether it be for the bread, the cakes or the piping hot mulled wine, you’re bound to get your cravings satiated. Tuck into a chunk of Stollen under the stars, with the snow-covered mountains making for the most festive, charming backdrop. I can’t think of a more peaceful, joyful way to spend the Christmas period. Can you?