It’s home to a well-known organic farm market, which converts to the “Altwiener Christkindlmarkt” during the Christmas period to offer a gentler alternative to the crowds on the Rathausplatz.
I’m sure the Irish monks that founded Schottenkirche would roll their eyes in disappointment (or perhaps not?) at the vast quantities of punch and sausages that disappear here through Advent, but the modern Viennese certainly seem to approve.
The market stretches across the front of the Bendiktushaus, a guesthouse run by the Schottenkirche, down to the Austriabrunnen (a mid-19th century fountain creatively called “Austria fountain”). The surrounding palaces give it all a tucked away feeling and the narrow aisles create a pleasant market atmosphere.
The artistic flair bears comparison with the Karlsplatz and Schönbrunn markets, with no poor-quality rubbish for sale: this is a particularly good location if you’re looking for candles and decorations.
When I visited, many stalls featured items of a particular colour or pattern. So looking down an aisle, you could see bright patches of red followed by blue and so on. If you’re lucky you might also catch a handicraft demonstration, choir or brass band on the small stage at the fountain end of the market.
Two highlights for me:
1. Running along the backs of one row of huts is a huge 46m nativity scene (the longest in Austria). It’s based on a famous 1830 painting by Josef Ritter von Führich.
2. Across the road that divides the market are the farm stalls selling regional and organic produce. A great place to get specialty cheeses, including the sharp Bergkäse mountain cheese that tastes like someone’s drilling your back teeth (but in a nice way).
This market is also the right location to buy your sausages and cured meats, organic wine and schnapps, poppy seed cake and other baked delights.
It won’t take you long to get round the Freyung and it’s worth visiting in combination with the Am Hof Christmas market, which also focuses on arts and crafts, and is just a short skip up the road toward the city center.
Opening hours 2016
- November 18 to December 23
- 10am to 9pm
The market is a short walk from the major sights in the city center and just south of Schottentor (U2 subway, Trams 1, D, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 71). The 1A bus stops at the Freyung (Teinfaltstrasse).
Address: Altwiener Christkindlmarkt, Freyung, 1010 Vienna
Website: http://www.altwiener-markt.at/ (some English pages)