Easter is coming – in Vienna, you can feel it thanks to not only chocolate rabbits on the shelves in any supermarket or spring decoration in the shop windows, but also the genuine atmosphere can be felt by visiting an Easter market.
Crowds of tourists head to Schönbrunn probably because the silhouette of the former imperial residence creates a beautiful background behind the market stalls. However, I prefer the Freyung square in the downtown, just a few minutes walk from the St Stephan Cathedral. There are always more local people than tourists, the market is smaller and well arranged, it’s smelling well here and stallholders have more time to exchange a few words…
A giant painted egg is rotating in the middle of the market. It is a gift from the county of Koprivnica-Križevci in Croatia. And around this symbol of peace and friendship, there are eggs, eggs and even more eggs. Actually, about 40,000 eggs! Viennese say proudly that this is Europe’s largest egg mountain! Eggs are sitting in the holes of cardboard boxes waiting for somebody to seize their colourful ribbons, take out an egg and bring it into their home and add to the Easter decoration.
The eggs are painted and decorated by different techniques. Mostly spring motifs are used, but you can find also some “imperial” eggs painted in gold and red. 🙂
I have to admit that it is not easy to take pictures of the eggs. The arranged branches make uneven shadows, the price labels irritate me and I have to be very careful with my bag to avoid to push down any of these fragile, small pieces of art.
I have been visiting this market for several years already. It is interesting to watch how the decoration of the eggs has changed throughout those years. And I am always looking for some eggs from my home country because I like the most. If you want to know more, just open my article about the Traditional Art of Decorating Eggs in Slovakia. Some years ago, there had always been some stalls with such decorated eggs from Bukowina, Moravia, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Today, I was happy to find the only one stall and bought 2 new eggs to add them to my private collection.
For those who prefer to decorate the Easter eggs by themselves and visit the market just to get some inspiration, there are clear, undecorated eggshells of different size to buy and decorate at home.
There are also several handicraft stands which offer baskets, ceramics, beautiful objects made of gorgeous olive wood, egg-shaped candles, toys, soaps and many other interesting things of high quality.
You can buy willow catkins and some flowers as bearers of spring as well. I usually make a stop at the stand with everything you need for sprouting. The fresh sprouts have the same green colour as nature which awakes from the long winter sleep.
Another important symbol of Easter in Austria is the rabbit. I found rabbits made of wood, ceramics, chocolate or painted on eggs and even a real rabbit!
In Austria, you cannot imagine any market without food and drinks. At the market on the Freyung, you can taste not only typical Easter specialties but also different kinds of oil, vinegar or salt, mustard, honey, cheese, sausages and other products from local farmers.
In case you are not satisfied with the offer here, just cross the road to get to the adjoining bio market. Don’t miss to take a look at a 40 m long painting depicting the biblical scenes of the Passion of Jesus. It was made by Dorothea Neudorfer based on the original from the first half of the 20th century painted by Philipp Schumacher which is now exhibited at the Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art in Tyrol.
The Old Viennese Easter Market started in 1990 only but it actually follows up the tradition of markets at this picturesque square in past. The square is surrounded by the church Schottenkirche and splendid palaces of some famous Viennese nobilities.
There is also a fountain at the square which is now hidden behind the stalls and Easter decoration. The central figure with a mural crown, lance and shield symbolizes Austria while the four other are the most important rivers of the former monarchy: Danube, Po, Elbe and Vistula. It is said that the model for the central figure had been Alma, the granddaughter of Goethe.
Address: Altwiener Ostermarkt, Freyung, 1010 Vienna
Actual dates, opening hours, programme and other useful information in German: here
How to get here: by subway – take the U2 to Schottentor or U3 to Herrengasse. You can find the best connection on www.vor.at (your destination: Freyung, 1010 Wien)
Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri