Friday, December 24, 2010

Fluweelengrot Christmas Market inside a cave

Another Christmas Market I went to is the ‘Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave) Kerstmarkt’ in Valkenburg, located in the south of the Netherlands in Limburg province.

The ‘Fluweelengrot Christmas Market’ is the only Christmas market in the world held inside a cave. Quite unique, huh? Indeed. I have heard about this intriguing cave spectacle a long time ago and promised myself a gazillion times to trek down south during December. You see I always end up going east, to Germany instead.

This is the chapel inside the Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave). During the many wars that transpired in European history, both the public and soldiers took shelter in the caves. In the latest war, the World War II, the American troops took cover here as well and many of them inscribed their names on the cave walls.

The opportunity came when Blondine and I went to Aachen, Germany last weekend which is located very near the border of the Netherlands and Belgium. When I checked Google Maps, it showed a mere 10+ kilometers distance between Valkenburg and Aachen. Who in the world would pass this chance up? Not me.

Entrance fee is 4 Euros per person, not really cheap considering the sad quality of the market stalls inside. For a moment there I was transported to the Bazaar in Beverwijk—Hello, what is this bazaar doing in a Christmas Market???

Well, apart from this ancient cave in marlstone quarry with secret inscriptions on the mural walls and a labyrinth of secret passageways (cave is circa 11th century and is connected to the castle ruins), the sweet smelling pine trees and kitschy Chrismassy trimmings they managed to put up, there was really nothing that positive in my opinion to tell about the Christmas Market. The shops outside in Valkenburg Centrum were more entertaining selling pretty home decors and Christmas ornaments.

At the entrance of the cave there are fast food and drink stalls. Right foto is a well decorated and well lighted cave alley.

There is a bar cafe inside the cave which looks like a burial place as well? Spooky? Not.

Here are more of the bar cafe scene inside the cave. Honestly, I do not understand what that rhinoceros sculpture is doing there.

Dutch dried sausages from the Limburg region, and Dutch candies: Drop - they are not your normal candies, they are licorice candies and it usually takes a while acquiring the taste or never at all.

Someone was selling art works as well. Next foto is a sample of the kitschy decors in the cave.

Hmm, I am not really sure what character he is portraying, perhaps Mr. Scrooge, Dutch version.

To see more fotos go here: Fluweelengrot Kerstmarkt in Valkenburg, Limburg - The Netherlands

Tip to the organizers of Fluweelengrot Kerstmarkt:

Please check out your neighbour, Aachen in Germany and their Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt for some ideas on what sort of stalls you should allow to showcase inside the cave. This whole Fluweelengrot thing isn´t a bazaar or a braderie right? This involves visitors PAYING the entrance fee in order to see the Christmas market thus please make this experience worthwhile. Thank You.

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