The Freyung is the name given to an open area in the heart of Vienna, ringed by city palaces and the Schottenkirche, a church whose origins date back to the middle of the 12th century.
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 speciality 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 centre.
Opening hours 2018
- November 17 to December 23
- 10 am to 9 pm
The market is a short walk from the major sights in the city centre 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