So where can you find Roman ruins, Habsburg architecture, a former residence of Haydn, sausages, and snow globes all at one location? The Christmas market on Michaelerplatz.
- Beautiful setting encircled by history
- Trademark white booths match the surrounds
- Small, but covers all the essentials
- 2020 dates: TBA (Nov 15 – Dec 26 in 2019)
- See also: Christmas markets
The official title for the market is the k.u.k. Weihnachtsmarkt. The abbreviation k.u.k. stands for kaiserlich und königlich (English: imperial and royal). In the past, suppliers to the court would use the designation to indicate an official stamp of approval (see here for more background).
Today, k.u.k. works as a form of branding to hint at a touch of royal elegance. Which is fair enough at the Michaelerplatz market, because the location is about as imperial as they come.
The white booths of this small market sit on and around the square that forms one end of the Hofburg: the palace complex at the heart of the former Habsburg administration.
The palace buildings, specifically the great domed entrance, mark one side. The other sides feature such historical joys as:
- The Loos house: a classic example of Vienna Modernism that had the Kaiser most unamused (and is now a bank)
- The 800 year-old St. Michael’s Church
- The entrance to Kohlmarkt, an upmarket pedestrianised shopping street. The house on the Michaelerplatz corner once housed a young Joseph Haydn shortly after he got chucked out of the cathedral choir. Walk down this street to see the centrepieces of the Viennese Christmas lights.
- The remains of a crossroads and buildings from Roman times
Given the setting, the market looks particularly glorious at night, with the lighting on the palace buildings. And to cap it all off, the horse-drawn carriages (fiakirs) park here, just in case you didn’t already have enough of a historical impression.
As for the booths, well, consider the market a very compact version of the larger alternatives elsewhere. The white stands are unique to this location, and their contents mirror the essentials at any self-respecting Weihnachtsmarkt. For example:
- Decorations from all manner of materials, including (in 2019) golden pieces embedded with Swarovski crystals
- Nostalgic toys, decorative tea light holders, amber jewellery, scented woods and similar
- Sausages and other fried delights (even fish and chips on my visit), plus, of course, Weihnachtspunsch
And although one or two of those tea light holders did feature Mozart and Sisi in a nod to tourism, there was nothing tacky here. So really a pleasant place to stop, grab a bite, browse the goodies, then move on through the seasonal lights and cheer of Vienna’s old town.
Opening times 2020
It’s a mite early for 2020 details. To give you an idea of what to expect in terms of timing, here the 2019 dates and opening hours:
- November 15th to December 26th
- 10am to 8pm (5pm on December 24th)
The market normally transitions into a New Year’s equivalent afterwards.
How to get to the Michaelerplatz
Nearly everyone visiting Vienna wanders through Michaelerplatz at some point, since it forms one major entrance to the central Hofburg Palace complex.
No trams or stations spoil the view, but you’re not far from a couple of underground stations.
Subway: You can walk up from Herrengasse (U3) or take a longer walk through the lovely Graben area from Stephansplatz (U1 and U3)
Bus: Michaelerplatz is a stop on the 1A and 2A buses that traverse the old town
Address: Michaelerplatz, 1010 Vienna