On one fine chilly December morning, we boarded a train from Berlin to Magdeburg, to see and feel the Christmas spirit in one of the oldest cities in Germany on the river Elbe. Christmas celebrations in old European cities with thousand year long histories have an unparalleled charm. After boarding the train, the fresh sunlight slanted across the train window and I saw the slow unfurling of the winter morning from the train window. I reached my destination after a little more than an hour, the journey being perfect for my brain to prepare for new scenes and scents.Christmas celebrations in old European cities with thousand year long histories have an unparalleled charm. #Christmas #Germany #Magdeburg Click To Tweet
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A map for exploring Magdeburg
Here is the exact path I took to explore the beautiful city of Magdeburg during Christmas. A map always comes handy while we are out and exploring!
The spirit of Christmas in Magdeburg
Beautiful Christmas decorations all around the city greeted us. From the very beginning, we all felt the Christmas vibes. It seemed people were not in a hurry; no rush anywhere although trains and busses were running with clockwork precision. It was a kind of atmosphere where one could easily get into a festive mood. Not least, my little one as merry as one can be! After all, the inventory of Christmas memories are in the making for her to refer back in future.
The smells of Christmas are the smells of childhood.Richard Paul Evans
We went inside a shopping mall to grab some quick breakfast and was delighted to see a beautiful Christmas light artwork at the center. Unexpected delights do wonder to our senses because its by-product is happiness. To my daughter, this gilded angel with wings and trumpet was not only a decoration but a beautiful fairy ready to show her magic.
After a quick breakfast, we started walking towards the famous green citadel of Magdeburg. Walking in the sweet sunshine of a winter morning felt delicious and I couldn’t take my eyes off from the cityscape full of glittering Christmas decorations. After a few minutes of walk, we reached Ulrichplatz, a green park by the road which has some beautiful sculptures.
A miniature sculpture of the Magdeburg Cathedral in the park gave me a hint of the real one, the oldest Gothic cathedral in Germany and the most important landmark of Magdeburg. I turned to Google maps on my phone and quickly located how far it was. I thought if the replica looked so beautiful, what would it be to see the cathedral in person! To my excitement, I found out it was not far and started walking again. Walking, seeing, scanning , hearing all made me alert and attentive to the present – one of the positive effects of European cities.
Next, I came across a lovely painting of another angel with a trumpet. This time too my daughter was delighted to find another angel waiting in the wings.
“Look this painting looks like you daddy and mommy” – my daughter shouted. We were walking and finding little delights here and there; sometimes paintings, sometimes sculptures, murals and Christmas decorations. I was also translating some German words to understand the meaning of what’s written. Technology aided our walk and art and people made us happy.
Green Citadel of Magdeburg
When I first saw the Green citadel, the uniqueness struck me. I applauded the imaginative vitality of the artist with my eyes. Naturally, I wanted to know more about the artist and the project. I delved deeper. I learned that this building is one of Magdeburg’s most eye-catching attractions for visitors of all ages. Designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, this Green Citadel is one of his last architectural masterpieces. One apparent feature in this house is the lack of straight lines. No doubt the famous artist and architect of this house believed –
When I first saw the Green citadel, the uniqueness struck me. I applauded the imaginative vitality of the artist with my eyes. #Magdeburg #Germany #Architecture Click To Tweet
Today we live in a chaos of straight lines, in a jungle of straight lines. If you do not believe this, take the trouble to count the straight lines which surround you. Then you will understand, for you will never finish counting.Friedensreich Hundertwasser
The green citadel of Magdeburg includes 55 apartments, shops, a café, restaurants, and a hotel, a daycare center, and a community theatre. It took 2 years to complete the building. While standing at the center of the courtyard inside the building, I looked up and saw how the rainbow of colors sparkled. I stood quietly and tried to internalize the message from Friedensreich Hundertwasser that he wanted us to notice through this building. I think, not just only in the realm of architecture but in almost every aspect of life, we thoughtlessly accept unimaginative norms as the standard and pave the way to uniformity; confining human beings and their thoughts, imaginations, and creativity within inhuman boundaries.
Beautiful and colorful bird houses and the pink wall challenge the status quo of uniformity of buildings and cityscapes that we see everywhere. Diversity instead of monotony is the essence of this place. This place reminded me of EPFL , a uniquely and beautifully designed library in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Inside the Green Citadel, I came across a lovely shop. It was closed that day but the glass window told me a story of three girls with umbrellas. While capturing the pretty window, I too became a part of this frame. Discovering quirky small details always makes travel exciting.
To my surprise, I found a beautiful Christmas tree in the central courtyard of the building. The vibrant columns, small birdhouses, a cute little Santa Clause’s chariot, and many cute and quirky decorations all around were stimulating. The reverence and the gaiety of this place will not be forgotten in later experience. In the boring habituation, the fatigue, the tedium of daily life such memorable places illuminate our being. Isn’t it?
Magdeburg World of Lights
Magdeburg is a traveler’s delight and more so during Christmastime. Just when I came out of the Green Citadel from the other side, I saw the cathedral ground sparkling in the winter afternoon. It was like the aftereffect of a cup of espresso or a shot of tequila; I was all charged up and invigorated. Every corner of the city surprised me and my daughter was bubbling with excitement. With more than a million LEDs, Magdeburg has the most extensive Christmas and winter lighting in central Germany.
With more than a million LEDs, Magdeburg has the most extensive Christmas and winter lighting in central Germany. #Christmas #Germany Click To Tweet Magdeburg is a traveler's delight and more so during Christmastime #Magdeburg #Germany #Christmas Click To Tweet
The Magdeburg hemispheres
Although it was still not dark, the lights were on and I got to see a fabulous display of Christmas light sculpture under the cloud laden winter sky. When I looked closer I remembered the famous hemisphere experiment with horses we are taught in school. Little did I know that the experiment was done in Magdeburg. If you want to brush up on some science and history, let me explain.
In 1654, the German scientist Otto von Guericke used two brass hemispheres, one with a tap. He greased the rims of the two hemispheres and carefully fitted them together. Then the local blacksmith began vigorously pumping the air from inside the sealed copper globe. After a while, he was joined by his assistants, as the cranking of the pump gradually became more laborious. At a signal from Guericke, the two teams of horses strained forward in opposite directions, attempting to pull the two hemispheres apart. But no matter how hard they pulled, the horses could not separate the spheres. Guericke told the crowd that all that was holding the hemispheres together was the pressure of the air surrounding them. The difference in pressure between the near-vacuum inside the hemispheres and the normal air pressure outside makes it very difficult to pull them apart. The vacuum inside the globe meant there was no opposing pressure to balance this great outer force.
The stunning display of the scientific experimental setup using lights was lovely. Art, science, imagination and Christmas all were mixed and matched in this illumination and was open for all visitors to see. A shared ground for all to revel in the joy.The stunning display of the scientific experimental setup ( The Magdeburg hemispheres ) using lights was lovely. Art, science, imagination, and Christmas all were mixed and matched in this illumination. #Christmas #Germany Click To Tweet
After taking a few more shots of the aureate ground, I promised myself to come back once more to see the dazzling square under the dark sky. The spirit of Christmas in Magdeburg is far from the patently commercial one found in many other places and the appeal lies in its authenticity and communal nature.The spirit of Christmas in Magdeburg is far from the patently commercial one found in many other places and the appeal lies in its authenticity and communal nature. #Magdeburg #Christmas #Germany Click To Tweet
Visiting Magdeburg Cathedral during Christmas
Magdeburg Cathedral (Magdeburger Dom in German), officially called the Cathedral of Saints Maurice and Catherine, is a Protestant cathedral in Germany and the oldest Gothic cathedral in the country. After entering the cathedral, I soaked in the silence and peace. Magdeburg Cathedral is also the burial place for Otto the Great, the first German Holy Roman Emperor. I have always loved visiting churches, be it historic ones like Strasbourg Cathedral, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, or modern ones where a digital Jesus adorns a church in California.
The nativity scene inside the Magdeburg Cathedral was marvelous and I cherished ever bit of it.
When me and my daughter decided to light up the candles, Siddhartha framed the moment. The bodiless being of a candle flame, passing constantly into nothingness, warms the faces that it shines on. I love the ethereal brightness of candlelight, it soothes, it softens our minds.
Art Museum Magdeburg
We took a walk down the Romanesque Road from behind the cathedral and ended up in front of the Monastery of our Lady which is also called the “pearl of the Romanesque Road” – a piece of beautiful Romanesque architecture. Inside the building, there is the Art Museum, the most important venue for contemporary art and sculpture in the state of Saxony. Unfortunately, it was closed that day but I enjoyed exploring the surroundings dotted with beautiful sculptures.
After a few minutes when I heard the church bells chime in the distance, I started walking again towards the cathedral ground. I couldn’t wait to see the illumination under the sunset sky.
Christmas Lights in Magdeburg
The second time when I was walking back to the Cathedral grounds, it was very cold but my heart was warm and eyes aglow with delight. The crescent moon, the setting sun, golden windows of the church, and the illumination created an atmosphere that had an unparalleled charm. The dazzling lights were no less than any diamond in its beauty.
The otherwise cold wintry nights were transformed to a wonderland of lights. I loved seeing the happy faces around me and wishing us “Frohe Weihnachten” (that’s Merry Christmas in German). I saw the purest joy and delight in my daughter’s eyes and observed the fond memories reflected in the faces of the people around.The otherwise cold wintry nights were transformed to a wonderland of lights. I loved seeing the happy faces around me and wishing us “Frohe Weihnachten” (that's Merry Christmas in German). I saw the purest joy and delight in my… Click To Tweet
Without festivals, art, leisure and creativity, our lives threaten to splinter into a million meaningless pieces. I promised myself to add more such glittering evenings into the inventory of my life.Without festivals, art, leisure and creativity, our lives threaten to splinter into a million meaningless pieces. I promised myself to add more such glittering evenings into the inventory of my life. #Magdeburg #Christmas #Germany Click To Tweet
The light sculpture of Georg Philipp Telemann – A famous German composer
We walked down the roads glittering in the kaleidoscope of Christmas lights and reached Ulrichplatz again. In the morning we saw beautiful sculptures in the park and in the evening, we saw a stunning illumination, celebrating Georg Philipp Telemann, a famous German composer, born in Magdeburg. My eyes were wide open but they were perfectly motionless. I was completely in awe. I imagined myself sitting on the bench and hearing Philipp Telemann play. Such places and situations always give scope to us adults to unleash the strength of imagination and bring back the child that resides in us silently. Later on, I did listen to his music and loved it. I knew that music uplifts one’s mood, but that day I realized that even imagining an evening at a concert can make one feel better. The happiness that we imbue from the real experience enhances with a dash of imagination. Don’t believe it? Try it for yourself!Such places and situations always give scope to us adults to unleash the strength of imagination and bring back the child that resides in us silently. #Christmas #Germany #Magdeburg Click To Tweet
Glittering squares and Christmas markets all over Europe give everybody a chance to flow with the masses and merge in the sea of humanity and painlessly lose the individual ego. There is a thrill and satisfaction to this. When I saw my daughter was loving every iota of the evening, I felt happy and thought that I have implanted in her the silent seed of exploration, or in other words, I passed the torch.
The happiness that we imbue from the real experience enhances with a dash of imagination. Don't believe it? Try it for yourself! #Christmas #Germany #Magdeburg Click To Tweet
Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.Eric Severeid
Where to stay in Magdeburg?
If you are planning to stay in Magdeburg, then choose Motel One in the cathedral square in the heart of Magdeburg’s Old Town district. Magdeburg Cathedral is merely a couple of minutes away from this hotel, making it the perfect place to explore Magdeburg. I loved their free WiFi, nice morning buffet, and fireplace inside the room. A perfect place if you are visiting Magdeburg. Book your stay at Motel One in Magdeburg.
Where to eat in Magdeburg?
After walking throughout the day, we all were very hungry and wanted to eat something hot and delicious. The Vapiano near the Ulrichplatz fountain served our purpose. I enjoyed my pasta while looking at the Christmas lights in the square in front of us, imagining Telemann playing the violin…
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For me, Christmas is that time of the year when I forget about the hopelessly practical realm of life and enter into a slow-paced fantasy world of twinkling lights, Santa, and Christmas Markets. I have gone to different countries to feel the festive spirit of Christmas and read books by different writers. Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens remains my favorite though. Here are a few articles that will let you escape to Switzerland, Italy, France, and Germany and will let you afloat in the festive mood. So, get started! What are you waiting for?
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.Ferris Bueller
Brimming with charm and cheer, Magdeburg gifted me many beautiful Christmas memories. Christmas lights in Magdeburg brightened not only the sky and the streets but also my spirit. I can now understand why humans have gravitated towards fire, especially during the dark days of winter, when luminous celebrations set gloomy nights aglow since neolithic times. If you want to feel the magic of Christmas in Germany, consider both big cities and the smaller ones, which have more intimate settings and a unique charm. German train passes always come in handy if you like to explore all corners of the country cheaply & conveniently. Escape the tyranny of cliches and add smaller towns and cities to your Christmas itinerary.Brimming with charm and cheer, Magdeburg gifted me many beautiful Christmas memories. Christmas lights in Magdeburg brightened not only the sky and the streets but also my spirit. #Germany #Christmas #Magdeburg Click To Tweet
Adieu Magdeburg, until next time!