Cologne, or Köln, is one of Germany’s most popular cities for travelers. Located in picturesque Rhineland, Cologne is beautiful at any time of year, but it’s decked out to the nines at Christmastime. Cologne Christmas Market is comprised of seven markets and welcomes about two million visitors each year. Four of them are below the grand and formidable Cologne Cathedral.
The Cologne Cathedral is in the center of several markets and creates a spectacular backdrop. This cathedral took years to build from 1248-1880 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It’s one of the most visited sights in Germany. When you go inside, the stained glass windows grab your eye immediately. It’s a tremendous work of art. They say the bones of the Three Kings are inside the cathedral, housed in a gilded sarcophagus. Though the cathedral was struck by several bombs during WWII, it stood tall while the crest of the city was demolished.
Each market seems to have a theme and Cologne’s was Gnomes. I think they are a reference to the gnomes known as “Heinzelmännchen.” As the story goes, these gnomes would magically decorate for Christmas, but could never be caught. Then one night, a tailor’s wife put some peas on the floor to trip them so they would fall down in hopes she could see them. This enraged the gnomes so much that they never came back, leaving the work for the people to do themselves.
There are gnome cookies, gnome Christmas tree ornaments, gnome candles, and gnome decorations on the wood stalls. This market had an earthiness and a woodland magic vibe. Lots of mossy huts, deer, mushrooms and gnomes all over. Gluhwein is served in cute little gnome cups (a lot of people keep and collect gluehwein cups from the various markets).
With the cathedral in the background and the cobblestone and venders dressed in garb from the old days, you can easily imagine what it was like to shop Christmas markets in the 1800s. There was this really funky stand with craft spirits in cool looking ceramic bottles. The guy had a tiny little santa in his beard and candles on his top hat.
Vegetarians and those that appreciate healthy food will find a lot to love here. You can get certified organic baked goods, cookies and veg-friendly foods like pommes frittes, crepes, Christmas beer and bread.
Cologne Christmas Market Bottom Line
For a Christmas Market experience in Rhineland, the Cologne markets deliver. This was an interesting stop for me along my Germany Market hopping adventure. There was a little bit of fairyland medieval magic going on here. I also loved the vegetarian options. Find out more about the Cologne Christmas market and others on the Germany Tourism Website.