Rothenburg ob der Tauber, located on Germany’s Romantic Road and lying just one hour west of Nürnberg, Bavaria, offers the visitor a veritable treasure trove of architectural gems from the Middle Ages to the 1800s, all of which are now meticulously protected by some of Germany’s strictest architectural preservation laws.
Words & Pics by Lynda Higgs
Ironically it was the unfortunate combination of war and disease that resulted in the once rich and powerful Imperial City of Rothenburg being so perfectly preserved for two centuries, only to be revived by the onset of modern tourism in the mid-19th Century. Today the most hazardous encounter you might have would be with a group of smartphone camera-wielding tourists as you stand and gaze in wonder at the beauty of this picture-postcard, walled city, which seems to have sprung straight from a Disney film or an illustration of a fairy tale.
Hosting a variety of festivals every year, including the Medieval historic festival “Meistertrunk” on Whitsuntide and the “Weindorf” (Wine Festival, taking place on August 14-18th, 2014), Rothenburg has become a highlight on the itinerary of many a foreign visitor to Germany – and justifiably so. Admittedly, we visited in February when it is quieter and colder, but there is no denying the beauty and history of the city.
No matter how short your visit to Rothenburg, it is worth climbing the 61m to to the top of the Röderturm to get a bird’s eye view of the city’s sloping, red rooftops and many towers. You should also take a walk along the mostly intact city walls, complete with archer’s slits and guard towers. Another must is a visit to the Käthe Wolfhart Christmas Village where it is Christmas 365 days a year – perfect for bribing younger members of your party to complete the wall walk!
One aspect of the city that we particularly like is that, as soon as you step off the main thoroughfares, it is clearly the home and workplace of its inhabitants and so much more than a “place to see”. As befits a city that owes its current existence to tourism there is no shortage of shops, restaurants, cafés and hotels. It is worth looking around to get a feel for which might suit you, but we had dinner at a Gasthof just off the Marktplatz, where we were welcomed by dirndl-clad waitress and enjoyed a delicious Franconian meal and a delicious local wine. We stayed at the unpretentious, but friendly, family-run Gasthof right next to the Röderturm and it is our impression that both are very typical of the city, whether you are travelling on a family budget or planning a lavish, romantic weekend a deux.
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