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ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER – GERMANY’S MEDIEVAL GEM
 
(2024 - Spring/Summer Issue)

Writer: KAREN BURSTEIN



Rothenburg ob der Tauber is arguably Germany’s best-preserved medieval walled town. Resplendent with cobblestone streets and colourfully painted half-timber houses resembling gingerbread houses, the red rooftops and flowering oriel window boxes of the town are so charming you want to take a bite out of it. You’re not the only one. Rothenburg’s fairy-tale loveliness helps it draw throngs of tourists.

Situated in Middle Franconia, Rothenburg is only a few hours’ drive or train ride from Munich. (The train trip requires a few changes that are typically seamless.)

Even the entry into the town is fairy-tale perfect. Enter through a gate in a nearly intact fortified wall. Founded in 1241 by the Hohenstaufen Dynasty, this Imperial Town quickly morphed into marketplace central. During World War II, however, it was partially bombed as the Nazis made Rothenburg the ideal of an Aryan town, and eventually they surrendered to avoid more destruction to the town.

Today, the thriving town of 11,000 residents has plenty of notable cultural treasures to keep both medieval- and modernist-minded travellers enthralled.

Walk Ancient Walls and Eat Snowballs

You can devote a stay to making candy; eating Schneeball, “snowballs” of sugar-powder-dusted fried dough available in every bakery; enjoying lunches of Franconian smoked sausages and beer; and dinners of delicious Swabian cuisine. Try the signature vinegar pot roast and spaetzle noodles with a glass of Reisling in a 10th-century cellar restaurant, before overnighting in a repurposed 12th-century barn luxury inn.

Or spend your time touring the entire town on foot. To fully appreciate the grandeur of this idyllic setting, stroll atop the town’s wall on the walkway above the ramparts that provides unmatched close-up aerial views. The view from the perfectly preserved Gothic city hall bell tower is equally mesmerizing. Then, descend the wall and walk on the trail by the rippling river Tauber outside of town for an equally impressive perspective.

Marvellous Medieval Museums

Everyone should visit Rothenburg’s best museums—the Christmas Museum of Käthe Wohlfahrt where you can learn why we do Christmas trees, and the gory Medieval Crime and Justice Museum, which shows original torture devices from less enlightened times. It’s a gruesome collection, but hopefully shows how much we’ve progressed as a society.

Did You Know?

On a guided night watch tour, a local historian, credibly clad in medieval garb, takes you through the streets and reveals lesser-known quirks of life in Rothenburg in the Middle Ages. It’s just one of many ways that Rothenburg allows you to completely immerse yourself in a long-ago era.

Travel Planner

For more travel info about Rothenburg ob der Tauber see rothenburg.de

 
 
 
 
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