About 20 years ago we visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber. A friend from California stayed with us at the time, a collector of Steiff like us, but also of so much more.
He had asked us if we could go to Rothenburg not only for the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village, a store where it's Christmas all year round, but also for carved figures because a friend told him to look out for vintage ones from the Ore Mountains if he got the chance.
Rothenburg is known for his well-preserved medieval old town which makes you think you have stepped into a fairy tale. No wonder it's a tourist magnet.
I'm not fond of crowds, but we were rather lucky. I think it was September and I remember that it was rather cold which might have helped a little with the Christmas feeling out of season.
We had "Schneeballen", a traditional local shortcrust pastry, and then were ready for Christmas, so we went to the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village first.
I'll be honest, despite having lifelong experiences with Christmas markets and department stores, I was blown away. If Rothenburg looked like the location for a fairy tale, this was like stepping into Santa Claus' workshop, department Christmas decorations.
Ornaments for the tree made from everything from glass (yes, also the infamous Christmas pickle) over felt to wood, figurines, pyramids, stars, wreaths, advent calendars, nutcrackers, trees ... and if you broke a blade on your pyramid, fear not, you can find a new one here. I can't for the life of me remember if I got something myself or if I was just completely overwhelmed.
This is not an ornament from the shop, but it gives you a small idea.
Walking around, we found the entrance to the Christmas Museum quite accidentally, we hadn't even known there was one, and as a matter of fact it was still rather new.
Now I was really in my element. The museum is small, but I loved it, anyway. The permanent exhibition focuses on objects between 1870 and 1950. Vintage ornaments, trees, lights, cards ... what's not to love? Have you ever heard of tragacanth or Leonic wire before, for example? I'd love to have a tree with vintage ornaments, but never dared to add even one because of the cats.
While I understand why it's not permitted, I still wish I could have taken some photos.
Our next stop were shops where they sold carved figures, everything from whole nativity scenes to single angels, saints, farmers, and one of them also had fairy tale figures.
It may not be very Christmassy, but we fell in love with two of them right away. One of them is this wonderfully detailed witch, with two bonus cats. The carver tried to convince us that she would look better together with Hansel and Gretel, but we just wanted the witch. She would look great with a big Christmas gingerbread house, don't you think?
All in all definitely a trip that was worth it. I'd love to go again, crowds or not.