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Romantik Rothenburg Germany : Hotels & Things to Do In Rothenburg
Rothenburg, also known as Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, is Germany’s best-preserved medieval walled town. It is a very popular tourist attraction, but has not lost its charm one bit. Rothenburg is located along the Romantic Road, which takes you through Bavaria’s medieval heartland. If travelling this way, it is well worth a two-night, full day stay. Its busiest times of the year are through the summer and in December. Additionally, when you are there, it is most enjoyable early and late in the day, before and after the tour groups flood the town.
A Brief History
Rothenburg was Germany’s second largest free imperial city in the middle ages. In its heyday, it was the crossing point of two major trade routes. Its citizens traded in wine, livestock and wool. Rothenburg was not spared in the Thirty Years’ War. There’s a fable told that a wager saved the town from destruction in 1631. Tilly, the commander of besieging troops, offered to spare the town if anyone could down the tankard of wine (7 pints) in one go. A town elder accepted the challenge and accomplished the feat, thus saving the town. The event is marked by a scene on the astronomical clock that adorns the former town hall tavern, as well as by regular theatrical performances. This fable was dreamed up in the late 1800s for a theatrical play that was designed to promote a romantic image of the town. The truth being that the town was occupied and ransacked many times during the war. It never recovered, which is why it’s such a well-preserved time capsule today.
Slideshow from My Visit - click to see full sizeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Photos of the town wall:Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fun Things to Do
Start at the TI (tourist Information) which is on Market Square (usually closed Sundays). Here you can get a ‘map & guide’ which comes with a virtual walking guide to the town. You can also get a listing of all the events and entertainment occurring in the current month.
The most entertaining of all (it was for me, anyway) is the Night Watchman’s Tour. This one-hour tour begins with the Night Watchman lighting his lamp and he then leads tourists on his rounds, telling the tales of medieval Rothenburg – amazing, fun facts are learned.
The Old Town Historic Walk is a 90-minute guided tour wherein you can really learn the serious history of the town. Private tour guides can also be hired. There are also horse –and-buggy tours through the old town.
The Rothenburg Town Walk takes about an hour and takes you to all the top sights. Included is the Town Hall and Tower, the town’s tallest spire at 200 feet. You can climb up the tower for the best view in town – beware the steep, narrow steps going up!
Check out the Historical Town Hall Vaults, then walk a couple of blocks to St. Jakob’s Church where you must check out the Twelve Apostles altar, then take the stairs behind the pipe organ that lead to the glorious 500-year-old, 33-foot high wood carving, Altar of the Holy Blood – the artistic highlight of Rothenburg.
The Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum is the best of its kind, full of fascinating instruments of torture.
Rödertor, the wall tower closest to the train station, is the only one you can climb – 135 steps for a fascinating view and rundown on the bombing of Rothenburg in the last weeks of WWII, when the east part of the town was destroyed.
Finally, you simply MUST walk the wall! It is about 1 ½ miles around, with great views. You can go through a lot of film here!
Shopping in Rothenburg
This is a great place to do your German shopping. Rothenburg is one of Germany’s best shopping towns. Rothenburg is dead in November, January, and February – perhaps due to the fact that December is its busiest month. Christmas markets are popular all over Germany and the one in Rothenburg is considered one of the best. Here are a few highlights:
- Tourists flock to Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Villages, which are just off the market square. It is a Christmas wonderland, filled with lights & music – baskets are provided for you to fill with goodies to hang on your tree. There’s also a great Christmas museum upstairs, which dumps you back into the store to buy even more.
- In contrast, there’s the The Friese shop, which is just off the market square.
- You can get fine prints, etchings and paintings at the Ernst Geissendörfer Print Shop – here you may even be offered a free shot of German brandy to enjoy while you’re browsing.
- The Weinladen am Plönlein offers characteristic wine glasses and wine.
There is a post office in the shopping center across from the train station to mail your goodies home, should you chose to do so.
Eating in Rothenburg
Most restaurants serve meals only from 11:30 am- 1:30 pm and 6:00 pm – 10:00pm. There are plenty of places to eat within a five-minute walk of Market Square. You can find choices from typical Franconian or ethnic meals.
Bakeries, or Bäckereien, are aplenty with pleasantly distracting pastries, pies and cakes.
There are nearly twenty hotels to choose from within the old town, from higher priced to hostels. Most speak enough English to get by and assist you. Here’s a sampling, from high to low priced:
Gasthof Greifen, once the home of Mayor Toppler, it is a 600-year-old place with large rooms and all the comforts.
Hotel Gerberhaus is a classy new hotel in an old building.
Hotel Kloster-Stüble is deep in the old town, near the castle garden and is the classiest. This is where my husband and I stayed and it was just beautiful and very well positioned to enjoy the town. I would stay here again, no question.
Gasthof Zur Goldenen Rose is a simple, traditional, family-run place – but only one shower per floor.
Hotel Altfränlische Weinstube am Klosterhof is a cozy six-room hotel located above a dark, smoky pub in a 600-year-old building.
Pension Elke has nine bright rooms located above the family grocery store.
Café Uhl offers 10 rooms over a bakery.
Gästehaus Flemming has seven modern rooms and a peaceful garden behind St. Jakob’s Church.
Gästehaus Raidel is a 500-year-old house packed with antiques and rents 14 rooms, with cramped facilities down the hall.
Pension Pöschel has seven cozy rooms in a concrete but pleasant building with an inviting garden out back.
Frau Liebler rents two large, modern, ground-floor rooms with kitchenettes.
Rossmühle Youth Hostel has 184 beds in two buildings. Note: In Bavaria, hosteling is limited to those under 27, except for families traveling with children under 18.
Sneak peek at TribergClick thumbnail to view full-size
Wherever you decide to stay, you will not spend much time there anyway, as there are so many enjoyable things to do here in Rothenburg. I am happy that I had the opportunity to experience it in this life and can’t wait to go back.
From here, I highly recommend Triberg, deep in the Black Forest – the land of cuckoo clocks and healthy hikes.