Historic Medieval City with City Defensive Walls ~ Photos of Rothenburg, Germany

Rothenburg, Germany

Rothenburg, Germany
Rothenburg, Germany | Source

Rothenburg


I had the pleasure of visiting historic Rothenburg, Germany years ago with my good friend who lives in that European country.

It is situated along the Tauber River and it is an old walled city.

Having stayed in touch with her since my single days of living in the Texas Medical Center nurses' dorm and sharing experiences of working in the operating rooms of Methodist Hospital, we have also shared many good times together after she returned to her home country.

This is primarily because of her frequent visits back to the United States to visit family members of hers. Generally working in a visit to also see us, face to face visits as well as communicating by letters and infrequent telephone calls has kept this friendship alive and thriving.


Keep reading as I will be sharing photos and some of the information that I learned about Rothenburg on our trip together to that remarkable city.


Street scene in Rothenburg, Germany

Street scene in Rothenburg, Germany
Street scene in Rothenburg, Germany | Source
Street in Rothenburg, Germany
Street in Rothenburg, Germany | Source

Medieval city


Rothenburg goes back to the 10th century when a castle was first built on that location. By the 12th century the city walls were begun to be erected.

An earthquake took place in 1356 which destroyed much of the city's fortifications but people continued to rebuild.

The impressive St. Jakob's Church was completed in 1510 and is a landmark feature of Rothenburg today.

Situated on a plateau at 1,275 feet above sea level with the River Tauber 180 feet below the city in a valley, this gave the residents of Rothenburg a good defensive site...especially as a city wall with towers and gates and holes in the high walls gave good lines of vision to be able to see and fight against any marauding armies.

People there endured many wars including The Thirty Years' War.

Fortunately, compared to so many other cities in Germany, total destruction of this attractive locale was spared during World War 2 by the orders of an American general.

What had been bombed was rebuilt in the old style and because of its uniqueness and historic nature, today it lures visitors from all over the world.


My friend had visited Rothenburg previously and wished to share its captivating beauty as well as its antiquity with me on a one day visit.

After wandering the cobble-stoned streets and enjoying what we got to do and see, I would love to spend more time there someday and absorb more of its characteristic charm.

Rothenburg, Germany: Romantic Medieval Town

The Master Builder's House (center) in Rothenburg, Germany

The Master Builder's House (center) in Rothenburg, Germany
The Master Builder's House (center) in Rothenburg, Germany | Source

Cafe inside of The Master Builder's House in Rothenburg

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cafe decor inside of The Master Builder's House in RothenburgCafe inside of The Master Builder's House in Rothenburg
Cafe decor inside of The Master Builder's House in Rothenburg
Cafe decor inside of The Master Builder's House in Rothenburg | Source
Cafe inside of The Master Builder's House in Rothenburg
Cafe inside of The Master Builder's House in Rothenburg | Source

Master Builder's House


Did you happen to notice the supporting figures on the front of the building on what is called The Master Builder's House in the photo above?


It was built in 1596 by Leonhard Weidner in a Renaissance style and is considered to be the finest private residence in Rothenburg.


The figures of men and women represent the seven vices and virtues.


Inside of the Master Builder's House (Baumeisterhaus, in the German language) is a beautiful private courtyard and today it serves as a restaurant.


Not only did we take a look at it but my friend and I decided to have a meal there and enjoy viewing the interior architecture and decor a while longer while dining and taking a break from our walking around the city.

Rothenburg, Germany

Rothenburg, Germany
Rothenburg, Germany | Source

Herterichs Well with St. George's figure in Rothenburg

Herterichs Well with St. George's figure in Rothenburg
Herterichs Well with St. George's figure in Rothenburg | Source

The Herterichs Well


Located in the marketplace (Marktplatz) is this well that supplied the city's water needs back in 1446.

Sometimes called St. George's well, Herterichs well was lavishly decorated by Rothenburg's mason Christoph Körner in 1608 and is topped with a statue of St. George.

This site has seen much action besides the drawing of water for the resident's needs.

According to some literature that I picked up, it also served as the site of a gallows in the Middle Ages as well as a pillory where people would have had their heads and hands inserted into a wooden platform and remained there exposed to public scorn as punishment for supposed grievances or crimes.

It also was the site where shepherds danced to ward off the plague which was a frightening occurrence which killed many people in earlier times. Now a traditional shepherds dance is performed several times a year in Rothenburg paying respect to those past legends.

Rothenburg, Germany

Rothenburg, Germany
Rothenburg, Germany | Source

St. Jacob's Church


The high Gothic style of St. Jacob's Church (Jakobskirche, in German) dominates the skyline of Rothenburg. It was built in the 14th and 15th centuries and was consecrated in the year 1448.

The citizens of Rothenburg were the ones who raised the funding for this massive church which took well over one hundred years to build and lots of manpower and expertise to construct.

The exterior is stunning with the lofty towers, steeples, pointed arches and slim windows rising up towards the heavens in honor of God. But it is the interior of this church that is a "must see" for any visitor to Rothenburg!

One could spend much time in this church marveling at all of the spectacular embellishments which contain, among other things, valuable stained glass windows...some of them 46 feet in height above the main altar.

The Altar of the Twelve Apostles with carved figures and paintings is a gorgeous shrine in the nave (head) of the church flanked by seating for the choir on each side wall. The choir stalls which bear coats of arms of noblemen living in Rothenburg and who have supported this church throughout the centuries are interesting to see.

A massive 5,550 pipe organ must be something to hear when it is played. Unfortunately we did not get to hear it being played while we were visiting.

Tilman Riemenschneider and his famous carved altar inside of St. Jakobs Kirche (church) in Rothenburg

The Holy Blood Altar


There are other carvings of note and great beauty, but the stunning masterpiece of this church and one in which people come in droves to see is The Holy Blood Altar located upstairs in the west choir area. Why the name?

There is reputed to be a relic holding 3 drops of Christ's blood placed in rock crystal and inserted into a gold-plated cross.

The amazing artistry of the noted woodcarver and artist, Tilman Riemenschneider, is the attraction that is worth the small amount of money charged to see it. Carved out of lime wood it must have taken a huge amount of dedicated time and effort to hand carve and assemble this gigantic altarpiece that is three dimensional and that one can walk around and admire from all sides.

The Last Supper is portrayed along with scenes of Christ entering Jerusalem and his night spent in the Garden of Gethsemane...among other things.

For those who truly wish to see this magnificent piece of artistry, take a look at the video inserted here. Any woodcarvers or lovers of wood carving artistry will be amazed!

One mode of transportation around Rothenburg

One mode of transportation around Rothenburg
One mode of transportation around Rothenburg | Source

Sieber's Tower in Rothenburg

Sieber's Tower in Rothenburg
Sieber's Tower in Rothenburg | Source

Medieval towers and gates


Pictured to the right is a photo of one side of the 13th century Sieber's Tower (Siebersturm) which was the defense on the southern side of the city before it was extended even further out. As the city grew, more defenses were created...thus Rothenburg has a series of gates and defensive towers along with its wall which encompasses much of the city.

Rothenburg street scenes

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Rothenburg street scenesRothenburg street scenesRothenburg street scenesCouple sitting on steps to grab a bite to eat in Rothenburg. Viewed in RothenburgViewed in RothenburgViewed in RothenburgMany cross-timbered houses in RothenburgWalking through a neighborhood towards the city wall.Streets of Rothenburg, Germany
Rothenburg street scenes
Rothenburg street scenes | Source
Rothenburg street scenes
Rothenburg street scenes | Source
Rothenburg street scenes
Rothenburg street scenes | Source
Couple sitting on steps to grab a bite to eat in Rothenburg.
Couple sitting on steps to grab a bite to eat in Rothenburg. | Source
Viewed in Rothenburg
Viewed in Rothenburg | Source
Viewed in Rothenburg
Viewed in Rothenburg | Source
Viewed in Rothenburg
Viewed in Rothenburg | Source
Many cross-timbered houses in Rothenburg
Many cross-timbered houses in Rothenburg | Source
Walking through a neighborhood towards the city wall.
Walking through a neighborhood towards the city wall. | Source
Streets of Rothenburg, Germany
Streets of Rothenburg, Germany | Source

Cobble-stoned Streets


Notice how narrow the old cobble-stoned streets between the buildings are?

Obviously they were built long before the invention of gasoline powered automobiles.

The majority of people park outside of the major parts of the city and walk to get around. The few cars that navigate the streets do so carefully amidst all of the many pedestrians.

A few tourists choose to get around by horse drawn carriages or with bicycles.

My friend and I chose to do our sightseeing by walking and having good sturdy shoes on our feet to facilitate that process.

A Day Out in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The Town Hall (Rathaus) in Rothenburg

The Town Hall (Rathaus) in Rothenburg
The Town Hall (Rathaus) in Rothenburg | Source

Rathaus


This is the name in German for Town Hall.

As students of architecture can readily see, this impressive Rathaus has three different styles, that being Gothic, Renaissance and with a Baroque arcade.

Due to several fires over the years...one in 1240 and another in 1501, this building has been rebuilt several times and the Renaissance and Baroque styles have been additions to the original Gothic part of the building which blend into a harmonious style seen and appreciated today.

Defensive wall around the City of Rothenburg

Defensive wall around the City of Rothenburg
Defensive wall around the City of Rothenburg | Source

Scenery in Rothenburg viewed from City Wall

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Red roofed buildings of Rothenburg seen from city wall.Roofed sentry walkway of city wall in RothenburgView from city wall in RothenburgPortion of walk along city wall in RothenburgView from city wall in RothenburgViews from the city wall in RothenburgPortion of the city wall in RothenburgRed roofed buildings of RothenburgLooking out one of the defensive holes in the city wall.Walking a dog along a path up by the city wall in Rothenburg.
Red roofed buildings of Rothenburg seen from city wall.
Red roofed buildings of Rothenburg seen from city wall. | Source
Roofed sentry walkway of city wall in Rothenburg
Roofed sentry walkway of city wall in Rothenburg | Source
View from city wall in Rothenburg
View from city wall in Rothenburg | Source
Portion of walk along city wall in Rothenburg
Portion of walk along city wall in Rothenburg | Source
View from city wall in Rothenburg
View from city wall in Rothenburg | Source
Views from the city wall in Rothenburg
Views from the city wall in Rothenburg | Source
Portion of the city wall in Rothenburg
Portion of the city wall in Rothenburg | Source
Red roofed buildings of Rothenburg
Red roofed buildings of Rothenburg | Source
Looking out one of the defensive holes in the city wall.
Looking out one of the defensive holes in the city wall. | Source
Walking a dog along a path up by the city wall in Rothenburg.
Walking a dog along a path up by the city wall in Rothenburg. | Source

City Walls


Residents and visitors alike can get some great daily exercise by hiking around the city's defensive walls. With steps going up and down in some places it can be a good aerobic workout.

However...unless you live there and are so desensitized to the spectacular scenery with the numerous portals looking out towards the countryside and also the views looking inwards and down upon the red roofed town with its varied scenery...one is likely to stop and take many photos and/or stop and gaze at the eye-catching and wondrous sites around each twist and turn in the wall.

Below are some of the photos taken along the portion of the fortification where my friend and I did some exploring.

City Councillors' Tavern in Rothenburg where the drinking feat is recreated each day.

City Councillors' Tavern in Rothenburg where the drinking feat is recreated each day.
City Councillors' Tavern in Rothenburg where the drinking feat is recreated each day. | Source
City Councillors' Tavern in Rothenburg where the drinking feat is recreated each day.
City Councillors' Tavern in Rothenburg where the drinking feat is recreated each day. | Source

City Councillors' Tavern

This interesting building (in German, called 'Ratsherrntrinkstube') draws crowds of people six times every day when at specified times figures appear in the two windows and recreate a drinking feat which supposedly saved the city of Rothenburg from total destruction back in 1631.

The story is told that during the Thirty Years' War, General Tilly conquered the town. Ordinarily it would have been plundered and destroyed as was the custom back in those times. However...so the tale goes...if someone could consume a large tankard of wine in one gulp, the city would be spared. A former mayor of the town stepped up to the challenge and saved the day!

My friend and I stood among the crowds and watched this show which happens at the top of each hour from 11 AM to 2 PM and again at 9 and 10 PM each day. Tilly is in the window on the left with Nusch (the former mayor) in the window on the right.

For people needing to know what time it is, there are three clocks on the gable of the City Councillors' Tavern. A sun dial is at the top with an eagle just below it. Next comes a calendar clock. The city's official timekeeper clock was built in 1683.

Marketplace (Marktplatz) in Rothenburg

Marketplace (Marktplatz) in Rothenburg
Marketplace (Marktplatz) in Rothenburg | Source

Door knocker on a house in Rothenburg, Germany

Door knocker on a house in Rothenburg, Germany
Door knocker on a house in Rothenburg, Germany | Source

Rothenburg on the Tauber


After exploring Rothenburg for many hours, we had to return to my friend's home in Herrenberg because we were to embark on a trip to Switzerland the next day.

There is obviously so much more to see and do in this intriguing German city dating back to the middle ages.

One could easily spend many days there as I wish we could have done after having been introduced to this wondrous medieval city.

In addition to the fascinating architecture there are multiple other churches and sites of interest to see as well as institutions such as the doll and toy museum and the medieval crime museum which could wile away many hours.

There are numerous choices of lodgings and eateries. Perhaps, with luck, my wish will come true and I will return someday to see more of this engaging walled ancient city of Rothenburg on the Tauber. Thanks to my friend, I at least got to see this much and will always relish the memories.

Rothenburg (City Walk)

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Rothenburg, Germany

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View of Rothenburg from a distance

View of Rothenburg from a distance
View of Rothenburg from a distance | Source

If you enjoyed reading this article, please take time to give it a star rating. Thank you!!!

5 out of 5 stars from 4 ratings of Rothenburg, Germany

We also visited Switzerland...

© 2012 Peggy Woods

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Comments are welcomed! 57 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 20 months ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Keti,

So glad you had fun in Rothenburg, Germany. Sorry for the late response. This ended up in the spam folder for some reason. Hope you had as much fun as we did! :)


Keti 3 years ago

I just went there on May! Lovely town. I had beautiful time there and wish I could spend more time in Germany. Your phtoos are lovely. Thanks for sharing and have a great time with your trip :-)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Suzanne,

Rothenburg is certainly one unique, beautiful and historic city. Glad that you liked viewing these photos and reading about it. Appreciate your visit and share.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas

Such an interesting and picturesque city! There are so many place I'd love to go, but I just hate travelling! LOL! I need to start watching travel documentaries! :D Voted up, interesting and shared! :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi moonlake,

At a certain age long distance air flights are not as much fun and harder to recover from than when a person is younger. We have several friends who say that they will never again leave the country for those reasons. Others wish to see more of our country first. I am just glad that I got to see the fabulous city of Rothenburg, Germany especially with my German friend as guide and interpreter. It was wonderful! Thanks for the pin.


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