The Romantic Road - Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Plonlein with Koboldzellersteig and Spitalgasse
Plonlein with Koboldzellersteig and Spitalgasse | Source

Romantischestrasse

As we continue on the Romantic Road about an hour auto drive south of Wurzburg, Germany we come to the charming walled medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber with its criss cross building facades that look like they belong in Hansel and Gretel or any other famous German fairy tale. This is a completely walled city on all sides with arched towers for an entrance on each side of the city. I always enter the city from the west arch and tower and start my visit there. Rothenburg, which means "red fortress above the Tauber River" is situated also in Franconia in Bavaria in Germany.

The town of Rothenburg ws founded in 1170 at the time the Staufer Castle was built. It has a center marktplaz, that has a daily market and the stores, shops, restaurants and gasthouses are around the edges of the market place. Alas, there is no castle to visit here, as Staufer Castle was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1356. But, the walled medieval town makes up for the fact there is no longer a castle in Rothenburg.

The city was completely walled for protection and safety in the 13th century and today you can walk the walls around the town and climb the towers just as the security soldiers did in medieval times. This is a must do! You don't want to miss your chance to walk the walls of a quaint German walled town. The two towers that you can climb to get a bird's eye view of Rothenburg and the Tauber River are White Tower and Markus Tower with the Roder Arch.

When you enter Rothenburg under the west arch and tower, you want to head first straight ahead to St. Jakob Kirche (St. James Church) to see the magnificent wood carved altar by none other than our Wurzburg wood carver Tilman Riemenschneider. Again, the majestic feel of the altar makes your soul want to soar right out of the church rafters. This is the Holy Blood reredos Riemenschneider carved from 1500-1505. This is a must do! You cannot miss this extraordinary altar in an extraordinary church in an extraordinary German town. It is absolutely beautiful beyond belief, and the photo here really doesn't do it justice.

Wood sculpted altar by Tilman Riemenschneider in St. Jakob Kirche (St. James Church) in Rothenburg
Wood sculpted altar by Tilman Riemenschneider in St. Jakob Kirche (St. James Church) in Rothenburg | Source

Once you leave the St. James Church, we will walk to the marktplaz to see the Rathaus, or town hall. The Gothic part of the building was built from 1250 and it was the seat of the government during medieval times. Today, the town hall tower is opened and can be climbed for an all city view. Next, you don't want to miss Rothenburg's famous Plonlein corner. Here artists the world over have painted and sketched this famous corner since medieval times. This is the corner you will see artistic renditions of all over Rothenburg and they make great gifts for family and friends. This charming corner never seems to change and I never miss it when I go to Rothenburg, which is getting to about ten times now. I never tire of this enchanting walled city.

There are many museums to see in Rothenburg, but my favorite are The Criminal Museum, which shows reproductions of the torture objects and devices used during the middle ages. The kids usually love this one. And take your children to the Doll and Toy Museum, which is one thing Germany does so well. Toys, usually carved of wood, porcelain dolls dressed immaculately, are the highlight for the kids. And, you cannot miss Katie Wolfort's Christmas stores that display Christmans ornaments and gifts all year round. She has two stores each one across the street fronm the other and they are a Christmas wonderland. If there is one thing Germany knows how to do, it is Christmas. The traditional Christmas we have always had at our home has been the German one with the decorated Christmas tree, the train set and the wooden carved Christmas tree ornaments. All this is found in Katie Wolfort's stores. They are expensive, but worth it to be able to trim your tree in these precious wooden tree ornaments. And, of course, you can purchase any kind and size of Hummel figurines here if you are a collector.

When I lived in Germany in the '80's, Rothenburg was a German tourist stop only, so there were not many tourists in the city at all. Today, however, the city is overrun with tourists from all over the world. Because of this, lines are long everywhere, museums, churches, gasthaus' (guest houses and inns) stores, cafes and shops. The German restaurants are very good, however, they do cater to the tourists and serve cappucino and pizza. The first time I saw a pizza joint in Rothenburg, I nearly keeled over. So be prepared for the typical tourist trinket and trash places. If you stick to the German run stores, shops, restaurants, inns and gasthauses, you will have the total German experience, which is what I like to do.

The Rathaus (Town Hall) and the Marktplaz ( the Main Square and market place)
The Rathaus (Town Hall) and the Marktplaz ( the Main Square and market place) | Source

Getting to Rothenburg

If you are driving a private car, another thing I highly recommend is to take the back roads to Rothenburg from Wurzburg. You can go by autobahn if you wish, but you don't want to miss the lush green and vine covered hills in the countryside between Wurzburg and Rothenburg. Take the main road out of Gerbrunn, the tiny village at the top of the hill in Wurzburg. Take a left out of Wurzburg into Gerbrunn and that is the main road. Take this road through Gerbrunn and out the other end of town and you are on your way to Rothenburg. As you are traveling south you will pass vineyard after vineyard and about halfway to Rothenburg, along the Mainz River, you will come to the the lovely villages of Sommerhausen and Winterhausen. They rest on each side of the Mainz River and there is a bridge to take you from one to the other. These two villages are on the Romantic Road. To miss these is to miss the heart of Germany and the Romantic Road. Sommerhausen has two wine festivals, one in the spring when they plant and begin the grape harvest and also in late September, early October when they harvest the grapes to make the wine. Winterhausen also is a winemaking village, but not as quaint as Sommerhausen. These are villages that literally have been standing since the 11-1200's. All the original buildings are intact and they are small walled villages like Rothenburg from medieval times. The people are so friendly and welcoming and the food at the gasthauses here is wonderful and out of this world. Don't miss these two villages for a feel of real German hospitality and ambiance. These two little villages are not as touristy as Rothenberg has become.

The city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber | Source

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Comments 15 comments

europewalker profile image

europewalker 5 years ago

While living in Germany, we visited Rothenburg. Loved walking through this medieval town. Nice hub.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you and glad you enjoyed this. I'm having a blast reliving all my favorite places in Germany. It is a beautiful country.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi suzette, the wooden altar carving is quite amazing.

This has bought back some lovely memories I have been to Rothenburg and it is absolutely charming!

Thank you for another excellent hub and voting up.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you so much! I like to share where I've been with others, because I think it is so beautiful and charming and I don't want anyone to miss these gems. I'm more of the off the beaten path type of traveler. Of course, with Rothenburg it is now on everyone's path, but it still is charmiing in a tourisy way. lol


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

What a stunning town. I love these medieval towns of Europe.

We are so lucky that they are still around, for us to enjoy.

They remind us that life can be so different to the fast pace of today's lifestyles.

Voted up and 4/5 buttons sharing socially


Robert Erich profile image

Robert Erich 4 years ago from California

This is an awesome post with very detailed information! Thank you. I traveled Europe a few years back and it was a blast. Documenting it the way you are doing - in a manner that allows all to see, is brilliant. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to seeing more great articles!


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

We love Europe, although we haven't made it to Germany yet. These sights look absolutely amazing! Will have to add this to our bucket list. Thank you!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

molometer: I love medival towns also. The ones in England look just as amazing to me, too. They are so quaint and charming and yes, life was so much simpler in those days, but I do love the conveniences we have today. I romanticize that age period, but I'm glad I'm living now. Thanks for reading and commenting.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Robert: Thank you so much for your compliments. I love traveling and I did try to write these so anyone can follow my "tour" of the town. I'm glad to hear you had the opportunity to travel in Europe. I find it so interesting! I have a lot of articles on Europe - mainly Germany and Spain because I have lived in both countries - so I hope you enjoy some. Thanks so much for your input!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

vespawoolf: Get to Germany some time. You will fall in love with the country. It is so beautiful, pristine, and so full of history and art and charming, charming towns, villages and cities. Rothenburg is one of my favorites. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I enjoyed your imput. And, good luck with your bucket list!


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Hi Suzette,

I totally agree with you.

I love indoor plumber and electricity too lol.


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

Oh Germany, how I love thee ;) such beauty in this wonderful country! I've been to Frankfurt and Heidelburg and many other places but I don't remember going to Rothenburg. It is now on my "to do" list :) Excellent hub! Voted up and shared!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Oh, I loved Rothenburg when we were stationed in Germany in the early 1980s. There was a water color artist named Geisendorf whose work I loved. I bought several of his small works when I was there. Still love them. They are mostly scenes of the village.

Thanks for the memories. Sharing.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Cassy: I'm so glad you enjoyed this. Rothenburg is a charming walled city and you would love it. It is quite touristy now - they serve pizza and cappucino at the cafes lol but the history, art, and architecture is wonderful here. The shopping is pretty good too. There are trinket and trash shops along the way, but the German goods sold here are authentic and finely made. Just a wonderful day in Germany in Rothenburg!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Kathleen: Thanks for stopping by to read this. This is one of my favorite spots in Germany. Where were you located in Germany? I was in Wurzburg, about 45 min by car from Rothenburg. I have a set of watercolor scenes also of the town and one of them is by Geisendorf! How cool is that! The others are by different artists. I'm so glad you enjoyed this and that it brought back happy memories.

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