Top 5 Christmas Markets in Romania
Transylvania’s cities lead the way
There are many beautiful Christmas markets in Romania, but just a few have a bit of everything: historical buildings, beautiful architecture mixed with unique decorations, lots of activities and, naturally, a wide range of Christmas gifts, ornaments and culinary delights.
Here’s our selection of the 5 best Christmas markets in Romania. Do you have a different opinion? Please leave a comment and tell us of your favorite.
1. Sibiu – Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live (Forbes magazine)
City highlights: European capital of culture in 2007. Initially called Hermannstadt, the city was founded over 800 years ago by German settlers (Transylvanian Saxons) and it’s surrounded by well-preserved 15th century fortifications. With a mix of gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, the pedestrian free Old Town was ranked as Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live by Forbes.
Christmas Market: Upper town, Great Square (18 Nov – 03 Jan). Intact medieval architecture? Checked. Synergy of cultures? Do 3 completely different types of cathedrals sound good? Blazing lights? Last year they took street decorations to a new level with a crazy “cathedral of light”, hanging above an entire boulevard. The race will be tough this year, but Sibiu’s Christmas Market remains the most popular in Romania.
Features: 70 fair huts, merchants from over 20 counties, traditional cuisine, children’s fair park, gospel concerts, carol singing contests, light shows etc.
2. Brasov – jewel of Transylvania & stronghold of the Teutonic Knights
City highlights: most visited city in Romania, after the capital. Founded in 1211 by the Teutonic Knights on top of a Dacian site, the city was initially called Kronstadt (German) or Corona (Latin), meaning Crown City. Dramatically overlooked by Mount Tampa, the huge old city is a myriad of cobblestoned streets, craft guilds, fortified towers, gatehouses, cathedrals, medieval decorated inns and bohemian cafes.
Christmas Market: Council Square (6 Dec – 31 Dec). The distinct medieval ambiance coupled with the stunning scenery (a city under a mountain) turn Brasov into a winter fairytale. The Council Square will be the definition of enchantment and the nearby Black Church, the largest Gothic cathedral in Romania, will host major thematic concerts.
Features: Christmas tree (28m high, 67 years old) decorated with 3D light spheres, 25m long garlands, 100 light bulbs etc. A network of light strands will cover the square, overlooking 40 fair huts and a theme park.
3. Alba Iulia – a 2000 year old citadel, reborn from its ashes
City highlights: Considered “the spiritual capital” by many Romanians. Why? First off – it’s ancient. Literally. Built by the Dacians over 2000 years ago and conquered by Romans, it became capital of Roman Dacia and seat of the XIII Gemina Legion. Second – it was the medieval capital of Transylvania. Third – it’s the birthplace of modern Romania, symbolizing the Great Union of Transylvania, Moldova and Wallachia.
Christmas Market: Union Square, Alba Carolina Citadel (5 Dec – 15 Jan). You don’t have to be a local to sense the powerful emotions generated by this citadel. There’s a vibration in the air as you walk through a tunnel of Christmas lights, connecting The Onyx Obelisk and The 3rd Inner Gate. Beyond, the Union Square is covered by a huge net of lights and packed with Christmas decorated royal statues, monuments, palaces etc.
Features: 600 sq meters ice rink, Santa’s house, fair huts, shows for children, concerts, mulled wine etc.
4. Bucharest – between Belle Époque buildings, communist palaces or sky bars
City highlights: although lacking the medieval charm of Transylvanian cities, the capital of Romania is bursting with life, offering diversity and contrasts: glorious Belle Époque buildings, communist giants like the House of Parliament, the 18th century architecture of the Old Town or glass towers topped by sky bars.
Christmas Markets: Constitution Square (1 Dec – 30 Dec). There are several markets, but the main one is located in the heart of Bucharest, in front of the Palace of Parliament, the 2nd largest building in the world.
Features: 60 fair huts, traditional music & dances, Christmas Choirs, Elven workshop, Santa’s House, intriguing Christmas decorations and local cuisine including various types of sausages, syrups, drinks etc.
5. Timisoara – an exciting mix of cultures
City highlights: The largest city in western Romania, dating back to 1212. It has a cultural & architectural diversity, being influenced by several cultures: Austrian, German, Hungarian, Turkish and Serbian. Timisoara was the 1st city in Europe and 2nd in the world after New York to use electricity to illuminate its public streets.
Christmas Market: Victory Plaza (1 Dec – 8 Jan). The market is located within a large pedestrian plaza, over an area that stretches from the Opera House to the large Orthodox Cathedral. The plaza is surrounded by historical palaces and theaters, displaying a baroque architecture. Everything is illuminated and decorated, from rooftops to fountains and from statues to proud standing trees.
Features: A 23 meter high dome made out of 60.000 lights, 100 fair-huts, The Chocolate House, Santa’s workshop where children can design their own toys, handmade products, cuisine goodies from Banat.
That was it folks – the 5 best Christmas markets in Romania. Did we miss anything? Do you have a different selection in mind? Please leave a comment and tell us of your favorite.
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