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"Travel Blog: Germany's Castle Road Christmas Markets (And Yarn, Of Course!)"
Author:  planetpurl
Christmas, yarn, mulled wine, yarn, grilled sausages, yarn, gingerbread, yarn, marzipan and more yarn. The best vacation ever!
09/17/2008 - Nuremberg - Angels & Yarn

Nuremberg - Last Stop for Mulled Wine (and Yarn)

Nuremberg is probably the most famous of the German Christmas markets.  It’s quite large, but for atmosphere, I definitely prefer Rothenburg.  The opening of the Christmas market in Nuremberg is a huge production and if you have the opportunity to be there on the opening evening, it’s not to be missed!  The Nuremberg angel presides over the festivities and both wax and wood ornaments of the angel are available everywhere.  

The market is in the Old Town within the walled city center.  I recommend the Le Meridien hotel, just across the street from the walled city’s Koenigstor (King’s Tower), a main entrance into the pedestrian friendly Old Town.



Treffpunkt Wolle

And of course I found a yarn shop en route to the Christmas Market.  If you enter the Old Town through the Koenigstor, head straight along the Koenigstasse toward the main entrance to the market.  You’ll pass a very large church on your right (Lorenzkirche) and if you peek just past it --- yes, that’s a yarn shop!  They have lots of handknit garments for sale as well as what appears to be the full line of Lana Grossa yarns.  They have some German-made yarns as well.  The shop is very large and bright and it’s definitely worth a stop.

Treffpunkt Wolle
Lorenzer Platz 3
90403 Nürnberg


So with suitcases bulging, a couple of crates of Christmas goodies shipped home, an impressive collection of souvenir mulled wine mugs in my carry on bag and with our bellies full of gingerbread, sausage, marzipan, and Christmas cake, we boarded our plane in Nuremberg and headed back home to Florida and near 90 degree temperatures.  But our 9 days traveling the Castle Road and visiting Germany's beautiful Christmas markets sent us home with Christmas spirit that will last for years.  And a few new knitting projects, too!

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09/16/2008 - If It Looks Like Christmas, This Must Be Rothenburg!


Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the town that time forgot.  One of the few remaining walled cities in Europe, it stands at the crossroads of the Castle Road and the Romantic Road.  It’s also the home of the world’s largest and most famous Christmas store – Kaethe Wolfahrt.  Actually, it’s more than a store as it occupies countless buildings in Rothenburg.  If you’re lucky enough to book a room at the historic Hotel Eisenhut, you’ll be next door and across the street from the two largest Wohlfahrt buildings, and right in the center of all the outdoor Christmas market action.

It’s hard to describe Rothenburg at Christmas time.  Words like romantic, magical, fairytale come to mind, but fall seriously short.  It’s just unlike anywhere on Earth.  We stayed for three nights and I was so sad to leave.  In a perfect world, I’d live there the entire month of December.  So I hope you enjoy (and forgive) the number of photos in this post – it’s my love letter to Rothenburg.


Yarn, Of Course!

You know this is a great town when there's a yarn booth in the open air Christmas market, right?  Lots of sock wool and novelty yarns for fluffy scarves.  Perfect for Christmas gift knitting.  And in conveniently close proximity to mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread cookies and grilled sausage.  With the light flurry of snow and we had a perfect Rothenburg evening.

If you can tear yourself away from Kathe Wohlfahrt to do a little yarn shopping, I spotted two options in the Old Town while strolling with Mr. PurlQueen.  But honestly, I was so overcome by being in Rothenburg at Christmas time, that other than some more sock yarn at the little booth in the Christmas market, I spent all my time (and money) buying Christmas goodies for family and friends (and plenty for myself, too).  I didn't go in these shops, so if you go, you'll have plenty to report back to Planet Purl!


This shop was closed when I spotted it on a Monday, so I didn't get a chance to go in and check out the stock.  I did press my face to the window and the shop was surprisingly large.  Lots of yarn and notions in attractive displays.  I spotted  some ads for Schachenmayr yarns and a ton of sock yarns as well, so I'd bet this shop is a great source if you're looking for German yarns.  Good thing it was closed or I suspect I would have been sorely tempted and I already had shipped back crates of Christmas goodies.

Spitalgasse is easy to find - it runs straight to the the Spital Tor - one of the towers on the wall. 

Spitalgasse 31
D-91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber


 Fritz Uhl

Fritz Uhl is a sewing and needlework shop in the Old Town.  I accidentally ran into it the last night in Rothenburg while out exploring after dinner.  It was closed, but then it was probably for the best.  Shopping for yarn after a couple of mugs of mulled wine with two American Express cards in your wallet can be dangerous.

The store was good sized, with lots of sewing stuff, and a nice display of knitting supplies.

Fritz Uhl
Hafengasse 14
Rothenburg od T.

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09/16/2008 - Half-Timbered Houses, Mulled Wine & Mosbach



After 2 nights in Heidelberg, where we drank our fair share of mulled wine and packed part of our empty suitcase with Christmas cake (“stollen”) and plenty of marzipan snowmen, we traveled along the beautiful Neckar Valley in the direction of Friedrichsruhe, our next overnight stop.  We stopped along the way to visit the castles and quaint towns.  We stopped when we reached Mosbach, with it’s beautiful Old Town and open air market.  

Mosbach was not one of our scheduled stops, but we couldn’t resist. The town is located on the Castle Road between Heidelberg and Heilbronn.  The main street of the town is a veritable parade of half-timbered houses from the 15th and 16th century.  And oddly enough, as we wandered we found not one, but two, yarn shops in this little town.  



Wolle Roedel - Mosbach

First, Wolle Roedel, on Gartenweg at #2, which was almost a mini-replica of the shop in Heidelberg.  For some reason (maybe the mulled wine?), the sock yarn display was just too much for me to resist.  Especially strange, since I don’t knit socks.  Mr. PlanetPurl actually picked out some Regia Silk yarn for a pair of socks.  Now, he had picked out yarn for a scarf in Heidelberg, and considering that the only thing I had ever knit him was a beautiful mohair scarf which he wore for my birthday trip to Paris a year earlier and which had not seen light of day since, I was pretty shocked when he decided he might like a pair of hand knit socks.  And he was stone cold sober as the designated driver.  So faced with a whole wall of fabulous sock yarn, what did he pick?  Brown.  Yep, solid brown.  At least it was heathered. 

Wolle Roedel
Gartenweg 2
Mosbach, Germany



Sowohl Als Auch

The second shop was called Sowohl als Auch (roughly translates as “and so on and so forth”) and was on the Haupstrasse at #22.  The yarns were arranged by color, which is my favorite way to experience yarns.  So I was drawn to the store window like a cat to a shiny object.  The shop carried only exquisite Lana Grossa yarns, which although are marketed by the German company Lana Grossa, are all manufactured in Italy.  Since I try to buy locally produced yarns while travelling, my budget was safe, but I did enjoy the view. 

Sowohl als Auch
Hauptstrasse 22
74821 Mosbach
06261 899 751

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09/16/2008 - Heidelberg - Pink Castles and a Basketweave Scarf


Heidelberg Castle

The famous Heidelberg Castle, built during the sixteenth century, overlooks the city. The castle is illuminated several times a year, commemorating the battles of the 17th century.  If you’re there during the summer, check the schedule for this event, as it is absolutely spectacular.  Floodlights flank the pink stone castle making it appear as if it were in flames, and fireworks explode in the sky above.  I lived in Frankfurt for three years and the trip to Heidelberg for the castle in Flames was a highlight of every summer.  Another historical landmark in the city is the University of Heidelberg, the oldest university in Germany, dating from 1386.

Heidelberg Market

Paris Department Store

The Old City

Strolling through Heidelberg’s old city is like taking a step back through time.  During the Christmas season, open air stalls selling ornaments, gifts, gingerbread cookies, fragrant sausages and mulled wine fill the pedestrian area.  And as if that weren’t enough enticement, the pedestrian Hauptstrasse (High Street or Main Street) is also home to a yarn shop. Hauptstrasse runs from the giant department store Kaufhof to the base of the Heidelberg castle.  There are pockets of the Christmas market along the Haupstrasse with the main markets in the Marktplatz (Market Square) and Kornmarkt (Corn Market).  Heidelberg’s English language tourism website has information about this year’s market: click here.


Wolle Roedel



Wolle Roedel

Back to yarn shopping!  About halfway up Haupstrasse at #99, you’ll find Wolle Roedel (“wolle” means “wool” in German).  Wolle Roedel is a chain of yarn shops that sells it’s own private label yarns in a rainbow of colors, textures, and fibers as well as Schachenmyer.  The shop is bright cheery and quite bustling.  I visited on a Friday afternoon and the shop was quite busy, including a handful of American tourists, who, like me, were buying the ultimate travel souvenir.  Several of the shop clerks were conversing with them in English, but do remember to print out our German translations of knitting and crochet terms to take with you as well.  Since the dollar was quite low at the time against the Euro, the yarn wasn’t a bargain compared to US prices.  But since Mr. PurlQueen had admired a scarf in the window of a shop in a really interesting basketweave, and he never lets me knit anything for him since he doesn’t wear sweaters, I took the opportunity to “let” him pick out yarn for me to recreate the scarf for him.  Maybe now he won’t roll his eyes so much when I “need” to stop in a yarn store while travelling.  Clever, no?

Wolle Roedel
Hauptstr. 99
69117 Heidelberg, Germany
+49 6221 586517


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09/16/2008 - The Castle Road Christmas Markets
I spent three years in Germany many, many years ago during my first marriage.  I’ve always been crazy for Christmas and no one, and I mean no one, does Christmas like the Germans and Austrians.  Ebeneezer Scrooge himself could not have resisted Christmas in Germany -- open air markets filled with the scent of mulled wine and gingerbread, hand crafted toys and ornaments, snow dusted trees, absolutely magical.

For the past twenty years, I’ve tried to talk Mr. PurlQueen into going to Germany for the Christmas markets, to no avail.  December is his busiest time of year at work, with the last two weeks being pretty much hell, so it’s been a losing battle.  Until I hit on the idea of asking him when he was in the “doghouse” and just like that, I got my trip to Germany for the first 9 days of December 2007. 

After a little research, I decided that we would drive the beautiful, scenic “Castle Road” between Heidelberg and Nuremberg.  Most towns in Germany have Christmas markets beginning in late November - early December, so the plan was to take our time, staying over in Heidelberg, Friedrichsruhe and one of my favorite places on earth, Rothenburg, along the way, ending up at the most famous of the markets, Nuremberg. 

So we flew into Frankfurt, jumped into our rental car, set the navigation system and headed south for our 70 mile drive to our first stop on our trip to the Christmas markets along Germany’s Castle Road -- the fabled city of Heidelberg.  After a brief nap to shake off our jet lag, our romantic Christmas market trip (with a little yarn shopping snuck in) begins....
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