Take Over Wro: Exploring Wroclaw’s Beautiful Christmas Market

The well-wrapped crowds move together under the flickering pinpricks of a thousand glowing fairy lights. A chorus of carols blends perfectly with a rattling of sleigh bells and the excited chatter. I huddle beneath a faux wood cabin, clutching my steaming wine to my chest with both hands, taking in the bouquet of sweet aromas emanating from the vendors flogging festive treats. Wroclaw, it seems, knows how to put on a Christmas market.

Wroclaw, or Poland in general, wouldn’t be most people’s first choice for a festive city break. I can see why. When I think of Christmas markets I tend to imagine picturesque German towns or cities; The huge central markets of Cologne set beneath the towering cathedral or the sprawling bazaars of Berlin. Maybe it is an idea that I have gained subliminally – most of the same such holiday fairs in the UK are advertised as Christkindlmarkts, selling typical German foods with German-sounding names above each of the stalls.

wroclaw's Christmas Market at night

Then there is the rest of Central Europe. Tourists flock to charming cities such as Prague, Vienna and Budapest in search of the season’s cheer. Poland doesn’t really get a look-in. I suppose that’s why I’m here. Forever the contrarian, I wanted somewhere a little off-beat and with cheap flights. Wroclaw seemed to be the ideal destination. After all, it was a German city itself until the end of the Second World War.

I captured my first glimpse of the city’s market square early on my first day. Already, vendors bundles in their winter layers were opening their cabins, rubbing their gloved hands for warmth and breathing out white, icy clouds in the chill of the morning air. Odours of cinnamon, fruits and baked treats mixed with the aroma of smokey barbeques crackling with sausages. Despite its size, the market was dwarfed by the surrounding buildings; all pastel shades and Austrian bohemia, like an architectural rainbow wrapping itself around the Rynek.

Christmas Maket in Wroclaw's old town square, poland

It’s like an image from a fairytale, only added to by the imposing old town hall – a miraculous survivor of the 13th century – and the towering steeples of both St. Elizabeth and St. Mary Magdalene Churches. The fairytale theme is an idea that Wroclaw has embraced. Statues of Krasnales, Wroclaw’s infamous gnomes are scattered throughout the square and the Bajkowy Lasek (Fairy Tale Forest) contains animatronic dioramas telling stories to wide-eyed children, their faces pushed against the glass in awe of the moving characters. I couldn’t help but find it a little creepy myself; there’s something about dead-eyed medieval robots jerkily enacting storybook scenes that doesn’t sit well with me.

Christmas market in Wroclaws old town square, poland

christmas tree at wroclaw christmas market

Animatronic monstrosities aside, the market is beautiful, even during the day. The shimmering, cone-like Christmas tree towers above even the square’s tallest buildings, its thousands of reflective baubles shining in the daylight. Santa rides his horse and cart around the outskirts of Rynek Starego Miasta as children gather to meet him and parents sipped from little red boots filled with mulled wine. I wandered past a dwarf house, strolled through a fairytale wood, sipped spiced drinks beneath the Christmas pyramid and started to feel tipsy within the fireplace house in the plaza’s northern corner. When it came to food, I couldn’t resist the scents emanating from the wooden stalls. I drooled over the sizzling kebabs and dripping pork knuckles but finally sated myself with a traditional sausage.

eating a sausage at wroclaw christmas market

 

This article belongs to Dave from Man vs. Globe. Click here and see what did Dave enjoy the most.