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    Posted December 16, 2012 by
    Heidelberg, Germany, Germany
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Christmas where you live

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    A Fairytale Castle Christmas


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     beetraveler photographed a German Christmas Market in Heidelberg, Germany. She says the market's fairytale castle-look adds to the holiday spirit, and the store has every Christmas item one would need for the holiday season. 'I visited the castle over the last few days and despite the 300 plus stairs one must walk to get up to the castle market, it was always bustling,' she said. Photo #2 was featured as the CNN Travel Photo of the Day for December 24, 2012.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    Surely, Germany has a plethora of Christmas Markets. It is, after all, the country that started the now worldwide Christmas Market tradition. But for a truly magical Christmas, nothing speaks fairytale more than castles.


    So when a friend told me that Heidelberg has a Christmas Market set atop the city, on the grounds of beautiful old Heidelberg Castle, I just had to visit.

    Mark Twain once visited Heidelberg Castle and wrote in his book (A Tramp Abroad, 1880) that "a ruin must be rightly situated to be effective. This one could not have been better placed." The castle has not been inhabited since the 16th century (when it partially burned as a result of a lightning strike).

    Undaunted by the 300 plus steep steps up, from the city centre to the castle, I wanted to see what I only imagined to be a fairytale Christmas Market setting. And I was rewarded for my trek. I was also not the only one in awe of the sights around me. When people weren't sipping the market's many delicious hot wines, they were usually snapping photos with their smart phones or simply gawking at the lit up castle.

    For maximum fairytale ambiance, night time is definitely the best time to visit the market. And this market has it all, enough to keep you contented for hours. Its tents have all varieties of Christmassy nicknacks and countless international treats such as Finnish salmon burgers. I even found a tent selling a special fruit wine that claims to offer "reduced hangovers"!


    The Heidelberg Castle Christmas Market is a fairly new tradition, being only in its third year. The city's other more traditional style Christmas Markets have been around much longer. But its little surprise that Heidelberg Castle Christmas Market has been a quick hit with the crowds. This Castle was recently ranked Germany's #1 tourist attraction based on the country's tourism surveys. I visited the castle over the last few days and despite the 300 plus steps up to the castle market, it was always bustling. This market is here to stay, I'm sure.

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