So, where can you find Roman ruins, Habsburg architecture, a former residence of Haydn, sausages, and snow globes all at one location? Answer: the Christmas market on Michaelerplatz.
- Beautiful setting encircled by history
- Trademark white booths match the surrounds
- Small: normally fewer than 20 stands
- 2023 dates: TBA (was Nov 11 – Dec 26 in 2022)
- Usually morphs into a New Year market afterwards
- See also:
The k.u.k. Weihnachtsmarkt
(The market with the domed Hofburg entrance behind)
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 k.u.k. designation to indicate an official stamp of approval (see here for more on that).
Today, k.u.k. works as a form of branding to hint at a touch of regal elegance. Which is fair enough at the Michaelerplatz market, because the location is about as regal 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 of the open area. The other sides feature such historical joys as:
- The Loos house: a classic example of Vienna Modernism that had the Kaiser curling his lip in disdain and disappointment (allegedly)
- The 800 year-old Gothic 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 they threw him out of the cathedral choir. Walk down this street to see the Viennese Christmas lights
- The Palais Herberstein, one-time home to one of Vienna’s more famous coffee houses
- The remains of a crossroads and buildings from Roman times
The fiakers (horse-drawn carriages) often park at the edge of the square, adding another dose of historical feeling.
(The white booths are unusual for a Viennese Christmas market)
The market looks particularly good at night, when the lights shine on the palace buildings.
As for the booths, well, consider the market a rather compact version to dip into briefly before moving on to one of the larger alternatives elsewhere.
The white stands are unique to this location, and their contents mirror some of the essentials at any self-respecting Weihnachtsmarkt. In 2022, this included, for example:
- Decorations from all manner of materials, snow globes, and hats and gloves
- Decorative tea light holders, scented woods and wooden kitchen accessories
- Lebkuchen, large blocks of cheese, traditional pastries, chocolate fountains, sausages and other fried delights (even fish and chips, though I feel certain the dish rarely graced a Habsburg plate), plus, of course, your Weihnachtspunsch and Glühwein
A pleasant place for a quick stop, a bite to eat, and a browse of the goodies in historical ambience before moving on through the seasonal lights and cheer of Vienna’s old town.
I don’t have dates for 2023 yet (watch this space or official websites). Dates last time out were November 11th to December 26th with opening times of 10am to 8pm (closing at 5pm on December 24th). The market usually transitions into a New Year’s equivalent after Christmas.
How to get to the Michaelerplatz
Nearly everyone visiting Vienna wanders through Michaelerplatz at some point, since it forms one major entrance to that central Hofburg Palace complex.
No trams 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 along the lovely Graben pedestrianised area from Stephansplatz (U1 and U3). The giant LED Christmas chandeliers hang all along the Graben
Bus: Michaelerplatz is a stop on the 1A and 2A buses that traverse the old town
Once you’re done (it’s a small market), go all the way through the Hofburg to visit, for example, the huge markets on the Rathausplatz or Maria-Theresien-Platz.
Address: Michaelerplatz, 1010 Vienna | Website