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Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

 

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Best Places to Visit on the Romantic Road Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

 The Rathaus and its tower in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

 

The central meeting place in Rothenburg is the Marktplatz, a large  square paved with cobblestones where the city hall (Rathaus) and its tower rise up to greet you. 

The gothic tower of the Rathaus, which you can ascend for a fine view of the city, and its building date from the 12th to the 14th century.  The main Rathaus building fronting the square dates from the 17th century, although the arcades were added later. 

The town's Historic Vaults (and Dungeon) are beneath the Rathaus, and have been converted to a museum used to describe the town's role in the Thirty Years War. Tickets are available in the Rathaus.

In addition, the Rothenburg Tourist Office is in the Rathaus and can help book rooms, tours or other activities. 

 

Looking down at the Markt and the St. Georges Fountain (at the lower right of the image)

Across from the Markt is the St. Georges' Fountain is one of many water reservoirs in the city.  The fountain, which is eight feet deep and twenty feet in diameter, holds the most water of any fountain in the city.  There once over forty similar fountains in Rothenburg, as these pools were for drinking water and fire control.  Narrow winding lanes and timbered houses made medieval cities tinderboxes and ample water for fighting fires was a necessity.

The Markt is a popular place to be in RothenburgDuring late November and most of December, the Markt is the site of the town's Christmas Market (Reiterlesmarkt), which is one of the oldest in Germany.  The Markt is crowded most of the year, but at Christmas it is even more popular.

There are several restaurants, bakeries and shops in this area, so plan to spend some time in this section of the city.  One of the most popular shops is Käthe Wohlfahrts Weihnachtsdorf (Christmas Village), located at #1 Herngasse.  The shop, which is open year round, offers a variety of Christmas and holiday season collectibles.  The prices are high, but the quality of the items for sale is excellent. In addition, a German Christmas Museum is on the second floor of the building.  See the shop's official website  (click the link for Rothenburg) for more details on what they offer.

 

Close-up of the detail on St. Jacob's CathedralSaint Jacob’s Church (the new St. Jacob’s church) appears a large and ostentatious building for a town the size of Rothenburg, but it was built at the apex of the city’s power (14th century) and reflects the stature of the town at that time.  The building, which had its seven hundredth  birthday in 2011, has a bland interior, as is common for churches in southern Germany. 

The treasure of the church is the Holy Blood Altar by the famous Wurzburg sculptor and woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider.  The altar was built to house a drop of Christ’s blood, a relic that attracted many pilgrims to Rothenburg in the Middle Ages.

The arch and street passage through St. Jacob's Cathedral

One interesting exterior feature of the building is that one end of it was arched over a small lane, which continues to be used for transportation today.

Interior detail of the Franziscan Church, Rothenburg's oldest.

The compact Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan Church) on Herrngasse is the city’s oldest church by two years and includes an altar by Tilman Riemenschneider (the Franziskusaltar (1490). The church is worth a walkthrough and is on the way to the Castle Gardens.

Continue down Herrngasse and through the Castle Gate.  Early in the city’ history there was a castle here, but it was destroyed by an earthquake and the materials used to build the city walls. Although, perhaps misnamed as a garden, this area leads to a spectacular view of the Tauber River Valley and a panoramic view of the city itself.

The Plonlein, Rothenburg's most photographed sceneThe Plönlein (little square) in the southern section of the Old Town is, perhaps, the most photographed scene in the city.  It is here that a high road (from outside the town) meets a lower road from the town in an area of highly decorated buildings.  The juxtaposition of  cobbled, narrow streets and  the crush of colorful, half-timbered buildings make this intersection a microcosm of the appeal of Rothenburg.

Another attraction that might interest you is the Medieval Crime Museum on Burgasse.   It features tools for torture and other examples of what it meant to be on the wrong side of medieval law in Rothenburg (and Germany). 

Another popular attraction is the Imperial City Museum on the art and culture of Rothenburg  located at Klosterhoff 5.  The building is a former Dominican convent with sections dating from the 13th century.

Along the Roder Gate in RothenburgEntrance to the Old Town is by one of several gates, but unless you are lodging there, park in one of the lots outside the walls on the eastern and northern border.  Parking within the city is only for visitors with hotels and is limited to loading and unloading luggage.  Driving and parking restrictions are in effect at various times of the day and night.  In other words, unless your hotel provides parking in the Old Town, drive in to leave your bags and park outside of the walls.  If you are a day visitor, park outside the walls an walk in – it is just a short walk.

 
One more thing - Schneeball is the word for snowball in German, but it also refers to a dough-based desert popular in parts of Bavaria. Take all of those leftover strips of dough from pie and pastry making, cut them in small narrow lengths, assemble them into a ball shape, deep fry and dip in powdered sugar, cinnamon, chocolate or another tasty topping.  While you can find these many places in Bavaria, Rothenburg was the first town where we found a shop devoted exclusively to Schneeball.  To be honest, these are not our favorite treat from a Bavarian bakery, but other tourists seem to love them.  Give me a slice of Shwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest chocolate, cherry cake) any time.

Next select one of these towns on the Romantic Road

Augsburg
Dinkelsbuhl
Neuschwanstein Castle
Ottobeuren
Wurzburg

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St. Georges Fountain and half-timbered buildings

 

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The views from the city wall can be beautiful

 

Rothenburg is a photographer's paradise.  Be sure to bring enough memory cards to capture all that you will see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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