Dachau is most famous for its concentration camp. But there’s also a lighter side too, including the Dachau Christmas Market located in the beautiful Altstadt (old town).
Dachau’s Dark History
More than 200,000 people were imprisoned and 41,500 were murdered here. Of course, it’s important to remember the darker side of Dachau. And it’s certainly not forgotten with the Dachau Memorial Site receiving 600,000 visitors a year. I visited it a couple of years ago, but never wrote about it since every time I tried, it came across as trite.
Of course a visit there is heart-wrenching, depressing, and sad, but these words don’t even begin to capture it. And at a loss of how to do so in a meaningful way, I chose not to share my experience at all. Having said that I do recommend visiting it – even if I choose not to write about it. Here’s the official homepage for the Dachau Memorial Site for further information.
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The Lighter Side Of Dachau
But in addition to visiting the Memorial Site, I also highly recommend exploring the historic Alt Stadt (Old Town), or having a coffee in the Dachau Palace!
Despite there being more to Dachau than its dark side, most people don’t know anything else. I challenge you to name one other thing you know about Dachau besides the concentration camp.
When I posed the same challenge to myself, I was stumped, and I live in Germany. Imagine how that must feel for the residents who live there, when the only thing people know about your city, is a horrible one entrenched in tragedy.
I had visited the Old Town and the Palace before, hence my recommendations above, and so, when the opportunity presented itself through one of my hiking clubs to hike to Dachau and finish at the Christmas market I jumped at the chance to visit a Christmas market in what seemed an unlikely place and see a different side of the city.
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Why Visit The Dachau Christmas Market
In all honesty, the Dachau Christmas Market is very similar to a lot of other Christmas Markets in Germany. It’s cozy, i.e. small, but I loved the homey atmosphere!
Despite seeing numerous tourists getting off at Dachau to visit the Memorial Site, I didn’t hear a single person speaking English at the market. This seemed like such a shame to me, since I think it’s important to not only experience the bad, but also the good. Most people leave the city only having seen the Memorial Site.
My favourite part about the Christmas Market was the huge advent calendar in the Rathaus (Town Hall) windows. Not only is the Advent Calendar in Dachau huge, but it’s also actually the largest advent calendar in all of Bavaria! Next to advent calendars with chocolate, ones in windows are my second favourites!
Related Reading: 9 Best Christmas Markets in Berlin You Have to See
The advent calendar in Dachau is the largest in Bavaria. I saw people lining up to buy a ticket for a raffle, which I stupidly ignored. I found out later that it was for a daily draw from the Advent Calendar.
Each day, someone wins the prize shown in one of the windows and all proceeds go to charity! Next time, I’m buying a ticket! Even better they only cost €1.00!
There was also a stage where music programs are regularly held.
I didn’t time my visit accordingly, but the schedule of programs is available on their official website.
As I sipped my Glühwein (mulled wine) and eavesdropped on conversations nearby, I couldn’t help but get the sense that Dachau is a really close and connected community.
Perhaps tragedy has made its citizens closer, or perhaps I want to find the brighter side, too hastily drew my own conclusions. Regardless, I left feeling contented.
I had seen a different side of this city, a happier, lighter side, present-day Dachau, one that helps shape my perceptions beyond the negative, and that’s definitely worth writing about!
Dachau Christmas Market runs until December 23rd. Dachau can easily be reached from Munich with the S2 train. The journey is direct (no changing trains) and takes 25 minutes from Marienplatz.