Strasbourg increases security after terrorist attack on city’s popular Christmas market

A December 11 terrorist attack at the Christmas Market in Strasbourg, France, shocked a nation and the world, but does it mean you should cancel your trip or plans to visit the world famous market?

European Christmas markets are a “must do” during the holiday season and Strasbourg has been a favorite for centuries. This year, the world turned its attention on the Rhineland region’s European Parliament capital after a young, radicalized terrorist shot innocent fairgoers, murdering four people and injuring more than 10 others.  

Armed Guards Protect Market Goers  

The French government has stepped up security for travelers who want to join the more than two million people who visit the market each year. Strasbourg may be one of the safest places to be in Europe this season, thanks to the extra attention and heavy police presence. Before you can even enter the city center, you must pass through metal gates and have your belongings searched. It’s a minor inconvenience, but one that is well warranted given today’s crazy political climate.  

a man in uniform holding a gun

Security is tight in Strasbourg after the December 11, 2018 terrorist attack.

Strasbourg: The Capital of Christmas

This week, hundreds of thousands of visitors flocked to “The Capital of Christmas” to savor the experience of a holiday market dating back to 1570. They sampled hot wines and bratwurst; viewed the lights; and bought holiday treats, decorations and gifts.

What will you find if you go? You’ll discover German and French regional cuisine, colorful Alsace pottery, hundreds of tiny figurines, beautiful jewelry, exotic marzipan creations and pastries galore. And there is so much more! 

people in a market with stars and lights

Colorful lights are for sale in the Christmas chalets surrounding the Cathedral.

Aside from being a beautiful, fairytale village with roots dating back thousands of years, Strasbourg is also a mecca for people watching. You’ll hear dozens of languages being spoken and meet people from all over the world. Overhead, illuminations light up the night sky, bringing festive colors to the streets and shops.

Prime Tourist Attractions

The heart of the Christmas market is directly around the Cathedral of Notre Dame (Place de la Cathédrale) and the adjoining streets where vendor’s wooden chalets line the cobbled streets. After you’ve finished feasting and shopping, be sure to see more of the  monumental cathedral with its intricate carvings and magnificent 466-foot-tall Gothic style spire, which was completed in 1439. Take a look inside (entrance fee: 2 euros). You will find stained-glass windows dating from the 12th and 14th centuries, a huge organ and an astronomical clock with animated figures that delight visitors every day at 12:30 in the afternoon.

Just a few minutes away is the Église Catholique Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux, Old Saint Peter’s Church, which was first cited in 1130. In the Middle Ages, it was one of nine parish churches in the Diocese of Strasbourg.

Of course, save time to wander through the streets and discover Grand Ile, or Grand Island, which was classified in 1988 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My favorite area is the Petite France quarter where tanners, fishermen and millers once lived along the waterways. Don’t miss the magnificent half-timbered houses that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.  It’s a walk through history, peppered with hundreds of photo opportunities. 

Discover Strasbourg. There’s so much to see and do, whether it’s Christmastime or not.