Drink and Be Merry
Tourists flock the streets of Rothenberg ob der Tauber for good reason. This is the best-preserved medieval city in Europe. Upon exiting the train station you may think, "this isn't the fairy tale land I was promised." Get past the office buildings and factories and find the 13th century walls that enter into a place seemingly untouched by time.
You have a few ways to enter into the storied city. The 12th century Siebers Tower served as an entrance to Rothenburg for about 150 years. Walk through the archway and arrive at the picturesque Plönlein Triangular Place. In the 16th century, the Spital Bastion was built at the end of the Spitalgasse in the southern part of town. Both are beautiful ways to get to the good stuff.
One can start at the Marktplazt, where on almost every hour, the windows of the town clock at the Ratsherrntrinkstube (City Councilors' Tavern) opens to recreate the "Meistertrunk." This mechanical drinking scene portrays the mayor of Rotheburg's legendary imbibing, when he drank nearly a gallon of wine after a bet with a general whose troops just conquered the town. Continue this drinking tradition and enjoy your own tankard of local Franken wine at one of the many cafes' that line the winding streets.
The Rothenburg Market Place is bounded together with the Town Hall or Rathaus. Consisting of two parts, the 14 th century Renaissance section, and the 13 th century Gothic, which includes the Imperial Hall and the 65-meter high tower. Climb to the top for a dramatic view of the romantic Rothenburg countryside.
A great overview of the city can be had with a walking tour. Also on the Marktplatz, the tourist office offers two distinct tours. During the day, a local historian (who's often an intriguing character) guides you through the ramparts. After dark, a medieval “night watchman” takes you through a thousand years of history with an air of spooky wonder.
This tour is the perfect prelude to your journey into the Rothenburg Crime Museum. Featuring the best (if that's the right word) collection of punishment and torture instruments in Europe from the 12th to 19th centuries, see how the little people were kept in line. Some react with horror, others wish for a gift shop!
If you have time for just one must-see art treasure, make it the 500-year old Riemenschneider altarpiece at St. Jacob's church. Created the by Michelangelo of German woodcarvers, it's Germany's greatest achievement in woodwork.
For a city with such charming splendor, it makes sense that you'd find Christmas in July – and every other month of the year. There are numerous holiday themed stores, guaranteeing you'll go home with a nutcracker, tree ornament, nativity scene or other holiday treasure. It may be summer, but the stores' piped-in Christmas carols will have you dreaming of December.
Rothenberg ob der Tauber is part of the very popular Romantic Road. Take advantage of the discount offered to those carrying a German Rail Pass and enjoy the daily motor coach that travels this 260-mile road.
Come cuddle up to millennia-old villages and embrace Bavaria. This is romance, German-style.
Contributed by: Kathryn, who works with our web department, has traveled extensively throughout Europe – utilizing all forms of public transportation!