Unlike most German Christmas markets, the Weihnachtszauber market at Gendarmenmarkt charges an entry fee (though a new development this year is having a few stalls outside the fenced off area, accessible for free). It's only 1 euro, but when there are so many others which you don't need to pay to get into, it's certainly easy to wonder whether it's worth the money. I'd say it's worth a look though, as it's different enough to all the others to stop it from feeling like you've paid to see something you could have seen for free elsewhere. It usually runs from around the last week in November until the end of December.
While we're at it, let's have a bit of a look around Gendarmenmarkt...
The three main buildings on Gendarmenmarkt were heavily damaged during World War II and lay partially in ruins right up until the 1980s. Since 1990, it's been styled into one of Berlin's more upmarket areas, making it easy to forget that it was once firmly within East Berlin.
On the northern side of Gendarmenmarkt is the Französischer Dom:
The word Dom in its name gets mistranslated as Cathedral. In the case of the two buildings on Gendarmenmarkt, it's a word (can I say 'homograph' without anyone sniggering?) which has its roots in a completely different place to the commonly used word Dom (which comes from 'domus Dei' - house of God). It comes from the French word dôme, meaning dome and in the case of the Französischer Dom (French dome) the name refers only to the portion of the building with the dome.
The church next to it is called the Französische Friedrichstadtkirche (French church of Friedrichstadt) and is - despite sharing a wall with it - entirely separate. The church was built between 1701 and 1705, designed by Louis Cayart and Abraham Quesnay, to serve Berlin's large community of Huguenots.
The domed building was designed by Carl von Gontard and built between 1780 and 1785 at the request of Friedrich II, to bring symmetry to Gendarmenmarkt.
Unlike the Französischer Dom, the Deutscher Dom (German dome) is connected to its neighbouring church building, the Neue Kirche (new church - sometimes also known as the Deutsche Kirche, German church). The church was built between 1701 and 1708 by Giovanni Simonetti, to plans by Martin Grünberg. The tower, like the Französischer Dom, was added by Carl von Gontard.
The stall in front is selling Gebrannte Mandeln - almonds which are roasted in a pan in sugar and cinnamon until the sugar caramelises.
Between the two is the Schauspielhaus (playhouse) by Karl Friedrich Schinkel:
It was designed as a theatre and opened as the Königliches Schauspielhaus (royal playhouse) in 1821. It was badly damaged in World War II and rebuilt between 1979 and 1984 as a concert hall, East Berlin being perceived as in greater need of a concert hall than a theatre.