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Munich, Germany’s Medieval Christmas Market: Corny or Cool?

Dancers garbed in Renaissance attire. Vendors role-playing medieval characters. Blacksmiths crafting medieval weapons. These were the descriptions I’d read of the Medieval Christmas market in Munich’s Wittlesbacherplatz square. I wasn’t sure what to make of the Medieval market– it sounded like it could either be a really cool experience or like a Renaissance fair gone very bad. So I decided to check it out for myself.

Why a Christmas market dedicated to the Middle Ages?

Munich’s medieval Christmas market isn’t just a theme chosen at random to distinguish itself from the 20 or so other markets in Munich. There is a historical precedent– Christmas markets in Munich date all the way back to Medieval times. A St. Nicholas fair was actually mentioned in writings as early as 1410.

The Medieval Christmas market (in German, known as the Mittelaltermarkt Munchen) was designed to reflect those early markets, to show what a market may have actually been like in the middle ages– complete with period dress, drink and crafts. While some modern items are mixed in, surprisingly the market manages to retain a feeling of authenticity.

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Renaissance period dancers and musicians perform throughout the fair at Munich’s Medieval Christmas Market.

The market has frequent performances from Renaissance dancers as well as musicians playing period instruments. Even if you don’t catch an official performance, watching the stall merchants playing their roles in period costumes can be just as entertaining.

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The medieval Christmas market is especially atmospheric at night.

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Munich’s Medieval Christmas market at night– busy and festive.

Confined to Wittlesbacherplatz square, the market itself is compact, lending an intimate feel, but is still large enough and with enough variety to create a buzzy and festive atmosphere. You’ll find unique drink options with a medieval twist, like traditional mead (a fermented honey wine). While I almost always bring my Christmas market drinking mug home with me, I skipped the medieval market’s red clay version– it was just too fragile, its thin handles just begging to be snapped off.

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It’s easy to tell the best German food stalls by the crowds lining up. Munich’s Medieval Christmas Market.

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This pig on a spit made for tasty sammies. Munich’s Medieval Christmas Market.

The Medieval Christmas market had the best–and biggest variety– of German food of all the markets I went to in Munich.  Standouts included tasty pork sandwiches and to-die-for apple fritters. After a little too much gluwein or mead, ordering food at the stalls can be tricky. The posted menus list multiple options, usually long German words like kartoffelpuffer or reibekuchen. Fortunately, the pointing method worked fine too.

Souvenir Shopping Munich’s Medieval Christmas market

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A blacksmith at work at Munich’s medieval Christmas Market.

The medieval Christmas market not only had demonstrations of traditional medieval crafts, but also sold the items the craftsmen produced.

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Try getting these on the plane. Munich’s Medieval Christmas Market.

Medieval weapons on offer included these bow and arrow sets. Not sure what the customs rules are for bringing these back.

German Munich medieval Christmas Market crafts shoes

Would you wear medieval style shoes?

Not every item was straight out of the middle ages, though.  I doubt anyone would want to wear authentic medieval shoes, but modern shoes made from traditional methods could be a fun souvenir.

medieval market / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Hand-blown glass at Munich’s Medieval Christmas Market.

You’ll find other traditional crafts that have survived to modern day– like these hand-blown ornaments.

Although I left this market empty-handed, I would still rate it the best Christmas market in Munich for the unique concept, fun browsing and fantastic German food.

Have you been to Munich’s Medieval Christmas market?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Mittelaltermarkt Munchen (Medieval Christmas Market)
Wittlesbacherplatz, Brienner Strasse 6-10, (Odenplatz u-bahn stop)
Late November-December 23: open daily 11-8

All photos by Souvenir Finder copyright 2013 except Creative Commons photos used in accordance with creative commons licenses (see attributions below or click directly on photo):

#1 Medieval dancing at the market 2 / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
#6  Blacksmith and crowd / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
#8   Medieval market / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
#9  Medieval market / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

8 Responses to Munich, Germany’s Medieval Christmas Market: Corny or Cool?

  1. sueslaght 12/05/2013 at 11:16 am #

    Kristin imagine what security at the airport might have said should you have walked up with your traditional bow and arrow slung over your shoulder! The market looks like great fun. Did you have a favorite spot?

    • Kristin Francis 12/05/2013 at 4:35 pm #

      Sue, I’m not sure I’d want to find out, though it sounds hilarious if it happens to someone else! I was all about the apple fritter things. Yum.

  2. vagabondurges 12/05/2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Renaissance dancers, spitted pigs roasting, and blacksmithing? What’s not to like? I need to head back to Germany some time soon. Great post!

    • Kristin Francis 12/05/2013 at 4:31 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. It really was a lot of fun, you should definitely check it out!

  3. wanderingeducators 04/16/2014 at 7:47 pm #

    Oh! I would TOTALLY go to this!

    • Kristin Francis 04/20/2014 at 11:00 am #

      Jessie, it is ridiculously fun!

  4. Elizabeth Green 10/15/2016 at 3:06 am #

    I have been all over Germany at Christmastime for my husband’s work 5 years in a row and I visit the medieval market in Munich everytime.

    I bought some ornaments at the handblown glass booth and drank the gluewein in the terracotta mug. I love the medieval costumes and the wonderful decorated stalls(Stuttgart has the best decorated stalls, however. Also do not miss the wonderful Christmas year round shops around the Marienplatz. They actually have the good stuff like Wilhelm Schweitzer pewter, Wendt and Kuhn, angels, gorgeous nutcrackers, Steiff animals and pyramids that are to die for. I bring a small empty suitcase and manage to fill it to the brim. I also have things mailed as some of the shops will ship…..Don’t forget Salzburg, Austria’s fabulous Christmas shops as well……if you like the real deal…. No Chinese stuff for me….buy only made in Germany or Austria. I mean, why go if you are not going to get the original stuff?

    • Kristin Francis 11/09/2016 at 6:51 pm #

      thanks for the tips. yes I bought a ton of ornaments in Salzburg!

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