Sweet, old-world charm at Wroclaw, Poland’s Christmas Market

Wroclaw’s Polish heritage stretches back a thousand years, with its market center and Christmas market having roots in the 13th century. The market was revived in recent years in a city-wide effort to bring folks out of their homes in the winter and socialize. It’s been a resounding success! It’s now one of the biggest Christmas markets in Poland.

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During the season, the Christmas market is open from 10 am to 11 pm. The place really comes alive at night — even for little kids! There are rides, puppetry of the classic Brothers Grimm tales, plus the city dwarfs walking around. They’re a symbol of freedom after the fall of Communism. Yay, Wroclaw dwarfs!

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For the grown-ups, hot mulled wine is the traditional drink and even more popular with a splash of rum! There’s kind of a chalet where you can get it (or other hot drinks) with souvenir mugs. The balcony overlooks the whole market, very amazing and romantic.

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There are numerous food stands, both with international delicacies and locally made artisan traditional foods. I wanted to haul back like, a hundred sausages and cured hams! But that’s pretty much frowned upon by US Customs.

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The market square is lined with charming shops, a grocery store with great, inexpensive things things, restaurants (including Pod Fredra). You’ll notice the medieval and baroque looking architecture . . . it was meticulously rebuilt by the Poles after it had been rendered into rubble after the Siege of 1945.

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This small town that also had Czech and German history is the crossroads of the prehistoric Amber Road and the medieval Via Regia. Imagine this: amber, called “the gold of the north,” was found in the Baltic region and also, Wroclaw and transported as far as Egypt! Tutankhaman’s tomb was filled with amber from here. I learned that Wroclaw is renowned for having the finest quality amber, because it comes from rivers with less salt content, thus having fewer occlusions — instead, a beautiful clarity. So, of course, I found some that had to come home with me!

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