Berliners or visitors who want to experience a special Christmas market, one that offers high-quality food and Christmas presents of good quality, may want to check out this one. It is the market that usually takes place at Gendarmenmarkt.
Berlin, November 22nd, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — For at least two years, Berlin’s ‘Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt’ will be the ‘Christmas Market at the State Opera’, for a good reason. Its usual location, the nicest square in Berlin, is a mess because rather big renovation effort is going on there. That is why the atmosphere around this particular market is not quite as beautiful as it has been, but it gets pretty close.
Alpaca and Food
Here, nobody sells cheap plastic toys, but self-made, wooden ones. A kind Peruvian lady who offers nice sweaters made of alpaca wool says she will be here every day, until December 31st. She is part of this market every year, no matter where exactly it takes place, because she knows this is where people look for real Christmas presents for their loved ones. Like other vendors, she has a heater in her stall, which she badly needed on Monday night, at temperatures below the freezing point.
She is not the only vendor of more pricey items over here at Bebelplatz square. Artists sell little pictures, self-made Christmas tree decoration, little plates, tiny worlds of miniature houses and people made of clay, leather gloves and hats and many other things that make great presents. But there is something much better: the food. Looking for the Christmas market with the best food in Berlin? You just found it. Just follow the smell.
Shortly before 6:00 p.m., the armored BMW 7-series parked at the main entrance on Unter den Linden boulevard showed what was going on at this very moment: None other than Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey officially opened this Christmas market on a busy evening. She inaugurated a total of five of them on the same evening.
At the ‘Christmas Market at the State Opera’, which still is the Cadillac of Christmas markets in the German capital, the most important item of them all is the ATM that was set up in the middle of all of those stalls. Good things cost money, especially here. Some of the best and most famous restaurants in Berlin, including the ‘Ständige Vertretung’ are represented here with heated huts they serve their guests in. Sure, people who insist on having a sausage with mustard or a French crêpe with Italian Nutella will find it, but most offers are far more exquisite.
How about ‘hand-made spaetzle with mountain cheese? You can even add truffles for an extra 4 Euro (4.10 U.S. Dollars or 3.46 Pounds Sterling). There is nothing better, except for cheese fondue which is available too. All that delicious cheese can be taken home as well, but you will have to sell your real estate first, in order to be able to afford it. A piece of Gruyère costs about as much as a townhouse in Brandenburg province.
‘Baumkuchen’ cake, anyone? Miniature ‘bee sting cakes’? Steaks of all kinds? Fancy cheese creams? This is your Christmas market. If all of the above is not good enough, you can have crispy duck with red cabbage and apples for 24.50 euro (25.12 Dollars or 21.21 Pounds). Even the pasta dishes they offer here are very special.
The multiple crises the world is going through are leaving their mark on this Christmas market. First of all, the prices have increased. A ‘Winzer-Glühwein’, the red ‘vintner version’ of Germany’s hot wine punch, the most important beverage on German Christmas markets, is available for 5 Euro (5.13 Dollars or 4.33 Pounds) in a 0.2 liter cup (6.76 ounces). For the white version, 50 Euro Cents more will be charged.
Also, there is less light, because of the energy crisis. At all of of Berlin’s Christmas markets, the illumination will be switched on later than usual and switched off sooner. Next to the State Opera, the little square in the middle of the market was rather dark on Monday, until a three-piece vocal Jazz band appeared on the little stage there. But Corona is not a subject, at least for now. No vaccination certificates, PCR tests or masks are required.
At the ‘Christmas Market at the State Opera’, the only affordable thing is the admission. They charge 1 Euro (1.03 Dollars or 0.87 Pounds) per person.