Gerd Ludwig Photography



Marktl: Bear, Bread, and Pope


Marktl am Inn (“Little Market on the Inn River”) in the state of Bavaria, Germany, near the Austrian border is a tiny village of only 2,700 inhabitants. It’s probably safe to say that nothing much has happened in Marktl until April 19th, 2005, when hometown boy, Joseph Ratzinger, became Pope Benedict XVI, the first German pope in 1,000 years. Overnight Marktl changed from a quiet little Bavarian village to a center of world attention.

Marktl shopkeepers have been quick to recognize the commercial potential: Today, visitors can buy Pope Benedict candles, Pope incense, Pope key rings, Pope medallions, Benedict XVI tea, Pope nougat, Pope wine and, above all Pope beer in a six pack sporting the papal portrait on the cardboard box. Bakers in the town are selling special Vatican bread suitably decorated with a cross, marzipan-glazed Benedict cakes, and papal pastries shaped like miters.

The local museum proudly presents the papal baptismal vessel as its main attraction and a banner above the church entrance announces that Joseph Ratzinger turned Pope was baptized here. More than 120,000 visitors have stopped by in the past 12 months to stare at the house where Ratzinger was born. At the side of the heavy wooden door, a plaque commemorates the famous man born there – Joseph Ratzinger who became Pope Benedict XVI.