Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The ancient hilltop town of Rothenburg is famed far and wide as being the quintessential medieval town, with perfectly preserved timber framed houses, winding closes, soaring spires and ancient town walls. In fact, Rothenburg could be straight out of a Germanic fairly tale of Brother’s Grimm vintage. It is located along Bavaria’s famous, and much travelled, “Romantic Road”. Along with lesser known Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen, it is one of three amazingly intact walled cities on the route.

Not surprisingly, Rothenburg is popular with visitors from around the World. We went there on a weekend in late October, and expected to find the place somewhat overflowing with tourists; however we were pleasantly surprised. We decided to stay overnight in one of the many old inns around the town. That proved to be a great decision as, in the evening and morning (up until about midday), the winding closes and squares were really pretty quiet, allowing us ample opportunity to just soak up the atmosphere.

Overall, despite its rather touristy reputation, it’s hard not to to fall in love with fairy tale Rothenburg; it’s just a beautiful old place, set in a gorgeous landscape overlooking the Tauber Valley. You can easily pass a few interesting days there; just exploring the maze of narrow closes, walking the town walls, exploring the many small museums and quirky shops or accompanying the night watchmen on his evening rounds (quite a theatrical performance indeed).

Treats and visual delights abound around every corner. In particular there are some items of special interest, including the amazing “Holy Blood Altar” carved by medieval master craftsman, Tilman Riemenschneider and the spectacular and beautiful Altar of the Twelve Apostles by Friedrich Herlin. Both are to be found in the impressive, gothic St. Jacobs church. Other treats include the gory, but fascinating Medieval Crime Museum and the impressive Town Hall.

Rothenburg remarkably survived the Thirty Years War, and in part the decline in economic activity following this catastrophic period of European history was partly responsible for the towns stagnation and ultimate preservation. The town was less lucky during World War II however, when allied bombing destroyed a large part of the City. Fortunately the town was lovingly restored after the war through generous contributions received from all around the globe. For that we should be extremely grateful that the unique treasure of Rothenburg was saved for us all to enjoy and appreciate.

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