The city and its Lutheran protectors were defeated in
Thirty Years War and
Rothenburg was sacked by Catholic forces. Several years later, the Black Plague
ravaged its remaining population and the walled city slid into a decline
that lasted for several centuries. In the early 20th century, Rothenburg
experienced a re-emergence, but this time as a tourist destination. Unfortunately, sections of Rothenburg (mostly the eastern part of the city
and its wall) were destroyed by bombing in World War II and the rebuilding
process, which took twenty years, started soon after the end of
We think of Rothenburg as a medieval town that has made its peace with
tourism and modernism. The town is a delightful place to visit, but it is the
combination of the town’s medieval ambiance and its people that make
Rothenburg a worthwhile destination. Its monuments are well kept, its stores
are clean and orderly and service in its restaurants is prompt but unrushed. Its shopkeepers, hoteliers, and restauranteurs (restauranteers
to some), take the
effort to make Rothenburg an enchanting place. For more information on
visiting Rothenburg, explore the city’s
Rothenburg is centrally located and a good place to base of visit for seeing
other interesting towns on the Romantic Road. Consider staying in the Old
Town for a night or two to soak up all that Rothenburg has to offer.
The town is compact and you could see the most interesting attractions in a morning
or afternoon, but the real beauty of the city comes out late in the day when
the tourists and tour buses have moved on to their next destination and the
town almost audibly breathes a sigh of relief. Moving around the town when
it is not crowded, which is an impossibility on any summer day, allows you to experience
the "real" Rothenburg and imagine what it was like to live here in medieval times.
In addition, the numerous houses and lanes crisscrossing Rothenburg add to
its ambiance. Take some time to wander the city and its residential
neighborhoods, as doing so underscores the uniqueness of the city.
If you want more detail on what Rothenburg was like in the past, take the
Night Watchman’s tour that departs at 8:00 pm from the Marktplatz
(April through December). The Night Watchman is a talented performer whose
40-minute tour of the city is interesting, informative and humorous. He
wears a black outfit, covered by a black cape, a tricorn hat and sports
various menacing weapons, most noticeably a halberd (a pole topped with a
combination axe and sharp spike). Having set the stage for his protection
duties with a short introduction, it's off to see the city and its history.
Visit the Night Watchman’s
website for more details.
After its founding, the city grew beyond its original wall and towers and
they were replaced by those you see today. A remnant of the original walls
and towers can be found along Rödergasse between the Röder Gate
and the Markt, where the Markusturm (Markus Tower) and Röder
Arch were built in the
early 13th century. (By the way, the building just south of the tower is the
Romantic Hotel Markusturm. It is a delightful, though slightly expensive
place to stay.)
Rothenburg’s outer wall
(approximately one and a half miles long) and its towers are the town’s main attraction and
you should walk at least part of the wall to experience its magnificence, and defensive value.
from the wall often provide stunning panoramas of Rothenburg (as well as its
ubiquitous red-roofed buildings), close ups of the many towers and, at other
times, intimate views of the multi-story houses that snug-up to the wall. The small plaques embedded along the wall identify donors who supported
rebuilding the sections of the wall that were damaged during World War II.
There are a number of places to access the wall and all of them involve
climbing stairs (some rickety and wooden, others stone and stable).
There does not appear to be wheel chair access to the walls.
We think the most convincing argument we can make for visiting Rothenburg
and exploring its wall is to show you the scenes that you will see when you
When you are ready to learn about the city's numerous attractions,
click here to continue our review.
The other attractions in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Return to the Romantic Road
Return to Best Places to Visit in Germany
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.