Munich’s Christmas market season has been cancelled and the authorities have closed the area for 18 months because of a series of serious robberies targeting tourists and locals.
The lack of space in the centuries-old city centre was due to be replaced with the city’s largest Christmas market, on the riverside, but it was not possible to close off streets during the summer.
Germany’s most populous city said it was taking the “urgent” step to avoid “risk for the general public” and “considering measures for long-term development of the market to mitigate against these costs”.
One of the significant factors behind the decision was a spate of robbery cases in the Christmas market areas around Munich’s famous, hilly Goethemarkt and the Drottninggatan, where heavily armed robbers have used disguises.
Interior minister Herbert Reul said: “Given the recent and repeated events, it was not possible to maintain festive events in the area which had a similar design. It is necessary to begin a decisive and long-term development of the market in order to guarantee safety.”
The move is the latest in a series of proposals to make the area more secure. In December 2017, officials asked shops and restaurants to shut in the popular Christmas markets on the capital’s red-light areas by the morning. Many stayed open later.
Five people died in two separate robberies in December 2017, fuelling government concerns that public security was being jeopardised as the visit of millions of visitors to Germany’s cultural capital gets increasingly rowdy.
Germany’s alpine city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, also in the Rhineland-Palatinate, closed its Christmas market in September after its toy maker was targeted.