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A Christmas market in a place of pilgrimage

The Christmas market in Einsiedeln, central Switzerland, is held against the imposing backdrop of Einsiedeln Abbey, and is one of the most beautiful in the country. Some  70,000 people visit this market each year, but this year the market could only be held thanks to a clever plan by companies refurbishing the square.

Thick mist hangs in the village streets around the Benedictine monastery. You can hardly make out the contours of the Abbey or the 150 or so finely decorated market stalls that stretch along the main street. Innumerable music boxes ring out Christmas tunes, while pastries and mulled wine fill the air with Christmas smells. In the middle of Abbey Square is a large Christmas tree and the lights of the festival. Only the sound of a pneumatic drill disturbs the romantic atmosphere.

The square is currently being redeveloped, causing a dispute over the paving and leading the canton to order a suspension of work. As a result, the square has been provided with a temporary bonded gravel surface to allow the market to function normally.

Switzerland’s leading pilgrimage site

The monastery of Einsiedeln looks down on the crowd from its imposing heights. With its 1,000-year history, it is the most popular place of pilgrimage in Switzerland. It is also an important station on the Way of St. James, a network of pilgrimage routes throughout Europe which is traveled by several hundred thousand people every year.

Project ‘The Sounds of…’

This article is part of a project (“The Sounds of…”) with our radio partners Polskie RadioRadio Canada InternationalRadio Romania International and Radio Praha. Further videos will be produced by journalists from these media to bring a taste of their work in their respective countries.  

Almost all major cities in Romania have a Christmas market. The most famous are those in Bucharest and Sibiu. At the market in Bucharest, visitors will find a Santa Claus house, a merry-go-round, an ice skating rink, a 30-meter high fir tree and 130 huts offering a variety of local delicacies.