12.4.19 - 12.6.19 34 °F
One of the great centuries old traditions of Europe are the Advent or Christmas Markets. The best way to see them is a river cruise. We flew from Charleston to Munich by way of Dulles, took a shuttle to the Munich Trainstation (Hauptbahnhof) and had a wonderful trip to Salzburg, Austria for our first night in Europe. Tomorrow we board a train to BudaPest, where we will board the AMAMagna on Sunday on the Danube. Today's goal was to explore the Advent Markets, Eagles Nest and the Mozart home (no photography allowed).
The town is located on the site of the former Roman settlement of Iuvavum. Salzburg was founded as an episcopal see in 696 and became a seat of the archbishop in 798. Its main sources of income were salt extraction and trade and, at times, gold mining. The fortress of Hohensalzburg, one of the largest medieval fortresses in Europe, dates from the 11th century. In the 17th century, Salzburg became a centre of the Counter-Reformation, where monasteries and numerous Baroque churches were built. Salzburg's historic centre is thus renowned for its Baroque architecture and is one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps, with 27 churches. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The city has three universities and a large population of students. Tourists also visit Salzburg to tour the historic centre and the scenic Alpine surroundings. Salzburg was the birthplace of the 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Because of its history, culture, and attractions, Salzburg has been labeled Austria's "most inspiring city."
The origins of the famous Salzburg Christmas market go all the way back to the late 15th century. Back then, the so-called “Tandlmarkt” would be held on Cathedral Square in the heart of the city, offering a wide range of goods for the locals to buy. By the 17th century, this Advent market had been christened the “Nikolaimarkt” – that is to say, the “Saint Nicholas’ Market”. For two weeks before and two weeks after St. Nicholas’ Day (on 6 December), a variety of products were offered for sale on and close to Cathedral Square: from a delectable selection of foods, to dolls and all kinds of bric-a-brac. The "Nikolaimarkt" was one of the most famous Advent markets of its day, second only to the ones in Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam and Nuremberg. The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, as it is known today around the world, has existed since 1974. Every year, the market is officially opened with befitting pomp and circumstance on the Thursday preceding the first Sunday in Advent, closing its shutters for the final time on 26 December. Local folk customs and traditional decorations for the Christmas tree, gifts for big and small, incense to help conjure up a festive atmosphere in your own home, all kinds of delectable treats in the form of Austrian specialties, mulled wine and hot punch: At the Christmas market on Salzburg’s Cathedral Square, you will discover practically everything you could possibly wish for.