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Rothenburg: A Charming Medieval German Village!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a Delightful and Beautiful Medieval Village in Germany!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is an absolutely enchanting village in Bavaria, Germany. This delightful German village, surrounded by a large stone wall, proudly displays its interesting and charming German architecture! Rothenburg dates back to the middle ages, with Rothenburg castle being built in 1070, and the town of Rothenburg in 1170.
During the summer of 2008, my family spent three weeks in Europe. Of those three weeks and all the many places we visited, Rothenburg ob der Tauber was one of my top three, and is the place I'd most like to revisit of anywhere we went in Europe.
Rothenburg stole my heart.
Will it steal yours too?
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
A red fortress above the Tauber River!
The name, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, means "red fortress above the Tauber river." "Rot" means red in German, and "burg" means fortress. As you glance over the photos on this page, be sure and notice the color of most of the rooftops!
Things to see or do in Rothenburg!
Things to do or see in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Enjoy all the charming German architecture, and learn about the fascinating history of Rothenburg ob der Tauber!
It surrounds the medieval German village of Rothenburg.
2. Take The Night Watchman Tour.
3. Learn about the intriguing history of Rothenburg ob der Tauber!
4. View The Meistertrunk Clock Tower - and watch the cuckoo clock in action!
5. Visit The Rothenburg Criminal Museum.
6, Sample some Schneeballen! (German fried dough)
8. Look for the wooden beams extending off the houses and find out why they're there!
9. Watch for the unique signs that hang from buildings.
10. Visit the Doll and Toy Museum, the Christmas Museum, The Imperial City Museum, St Jacob's Church and other places!
11. Shop the charming and unique stores. - Be sure and allow time to stroll along the streets, going into the stores that interest you.
Before your trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber:
Do some advanced planning.
1. I recommend Rick Steve's Travel Guide books.
2. Watch videos of places in Germany.
3. Learn some German!
4. Watch some movies that were set in, partially filmed in, or inspired by Rothenburg, Germany! (Pinocchio, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
A Tall Stone Wall Surrounds Rothenburg.
Visitors are welcome to walk along the corridor of the wall!
In medieval days, a visitor to the fortified village of Rothenburg ob der Tauber often had to pass through several guarded gates before entering the town. These days the gates are no longer guarded and all are invited to visit. What's more, visitors are welcome to explore the wall itself as well as get some great views of the village by walking along the raised wall corridor.
Rothenburg's walls and towers were built during the 13th century. As the village grew, the wall had to be extended three times and is now about a mile long. Stones from the old Rothenburg castle (after it was destroyed in an earthquake) were used for the initial wall. The stones consist of limestone, quarry, and sandstone.
The wall is on the left, and the town is on the right.
Many visitors to Rothenburg take the time to walk part of the wall.
Below you can see my children and me climbing the steps up to the wall corridor.
This scene (below) was taken from another location on the wall, as we walked along.
The Night Watchman Tour - An evening tour through the streets of Rothenburg - Highly Recommended!
The Walk of the Night Watchman Tour
Of all the tours we took in Europe, the best by far was the one we took in Rothenburg! It was called, "The Walk of the Night Watchman." Our tour guide, portraying a night watchman from medieval times, did such an outstanding job, it was easy to forget he was a 21st century tour guide and not really a night watchman! He was dressed all in black, and carried a lantern, a horn (for warning the citizens of the town of a fire), and a rather daunting weapon called a hellebarde.
A hellebarde consists of a long stick on the end of which is a triangular piece of metal with a long spike at the top. During medieval times, the hellebarde would have been used for a variety of things, including dealing with any criminals who might be roaming the streets at night or trying to enter the gates into the city.
Have you ever been on a tour where the children got bored and wanted to leave? That's not the case with the Night Watchman tours - at least not the one we were on. All the children along on the tour were instantly attracted and fascinated with the Night Watchman, and followed him as if was the Pied Piper! It was my son's favorite part of Rothenburg. I didn't see a bored child in the pack!
However, don't think that meant the tour was any less enthralling for adults! The information the Night Watchman presented to us as we walked along together was fascinating. He wove the history of Rothenburg and other bits of information into the most intriguing stories full of wonder and mystery.
For more information, visit:
Rick Steve's Article on things to do in Rothenburg
The official Night Watchman website - The Night Watchman of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Rothenburg, Germany has quite an interesting history! - The Night Watchman has such great stories of the history of Rothenburg!
One of the Night Watchman's stories I most enjoyed was about how Rothenburg was spared during WWII. It wasn't that all was easy for the city during the war. In fact, it wasn't easy at all. A larger city, Nuremberg, had been bombed, and a German general and his Nazi soldiers escaped from Nuremberg and came to Rothenberg. He gave orders to hold the city of Rothenberg to the last man. The American army bombed Rothenberg. They destroyed part of Rothenberg, and were making plans to destroy the rest. But John J Mcline, Deputy Secretary of State, had grown up with a painting of Rothenberg in his home. His mother had hung it in their home after her visit to Rothenberg. All his life he'd seen the painting and heard his mother's stories, and so he'd developed a fascination and love of Rothenberg. He knew it was a medieval village, and didn't want it to be destroyed. So he made a phone call and was able to call off the attack as long as the village of Rothenberg would agree to let Amercans occupy their city.
Listen to the youtube below to find out the rest of the story!
We particularly found Rick Steves' books to be helpful, as they are full of wonderful and useful tips!
Travel Guide Books, such as these, are a real benefit in planning a trip!
As my husband told a close friend of ours who was planning a European vacation for her family, "As we vacationed all over Europe, from Germany to France, England, Italy, and Switzerland, Rick Steves never steered us wrong! His tips and recommendations were fabulous!"
Meistertrunk Clock Tower
In the Market Square of Rothenburg
The Clock Tower, which now houses the tourist office, contains a giant cuckoo clock. At certain times of the day, the two small doors on the tower open, revealing scenes inside.
There's a story that goes with the clock tower. During the 30 year war, the Catholics had taken the Protestant village of Rothenburg. Although they were originally planning to destory the village, they decided instead to offer a bargain. If someone in the town could drink a 3 1/4 litter tanker of wine in a single gulp, the town would be spared. Retired Mayor Nusch not only gave it a try, but was successful, thus saving the town! As the window on the right opens, you can see the image of Mayor Nusch saving his village!
By the way, the meeting place for the Night Watchman's tour is in the Market Square very near the Clock Tower. We watched the clock tower windows open and the characters appear as we waited for our 8:00 pm tour to begin! If you're going to be visiting Rothenburg, please check on the times that the windows will open during your stay, as the times may have changed since we were there.
For more information, visit: Meistertrunk Clock Tower: Story and Photos
The Rothenburg Criminal Museum
At the Rothenburg Criminal Museum, you can find instruments of torture and death, such as finger screws and an executioners axe. The museum also exhibits items used to shame those who had done something wrong, such as the Mask of Shame.
For more information, visit The Crime Museum's website.
Don't Forget The Interesting and Unique Shops in Rothenburg!
We very much enjoyed strolling up and down the streets, visiting whatever shops struck our interest.
A suit of armor stands near a bucket of wooden swords outside one Rothenburg shop.
I discovered a charming store full of cuckoo clocks. I couldn't help it; I bought a delightful cuckoo clock in Rothenburg! You can see a picture of it here.
Be sure and sample some Schneeballen! - Schneeballen are balls of fried dough, often covered in chocolate or powdered sugar.
Read more about Schneeballen.
Siebers Tower and Kobolzeller Tower
The Plonlein, which means "Little Square," is one of the most photographed locations in Rothenburg.
Siebers Tower (on the left of the Plonlein) was built as an entrance into Rothenburg in 1385 when the walls were expanded. Kobolzeller tower, on the right, was built around 1360. Visitors who go through the gate can see the road down to Tauber's Valley. In the middle of the photo is a wooden creight where fisherman used to keep their catch.
As you tour Rothenburg, notice the wooden beams sticking out from the buildings.
By law, enough grain to last a year had to be stored inside the attic of every home. The beam contained a pulley for pulling the grain up. You can see the wooden beams poking out near the tops of buildings on both sides of the street here.
I can't help but think of Rainbow Row, in Charleston South Carolina, every time I look at this photo! For those who have never seen Rainbow Row, the houses are quite colorful and touch one another!
Unique signs hang from buildings to indicate what's being sold or provided there.
Rick Steves in Rothenburg! - In addition to showing us around Rothenburg, Rick Steves lets us in on some of Rothenburg's interesting history!
Have You Ever Been To Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany? - If not, would you like to visit Rothenburg?
Have you ever been to Rothenburg?
This photo of the Castle gate was taken while we were on the Night Watchman Tour.
Videos of Places in Germany - Travel videos can help you select the things you'd like to see on your trip!
DVD. Here are the places you'll "visit" via this DVD: Bavaria, Berlin, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Innsbruck, Interlaken, St. Moritz, and Zurich.
Amazon Instant Rental or Purchase. On this video, you'll be treated with a "visit" to Fuessen (where Neuschwanstein castle is), Rothenburg, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Triberg, The Bodensee, and a lot more places!
An Amazon Instant Rental or Purchase. My family took a boat tour down the Rhine River. Along the way we saw castle after castle. This video will introduce you to the area!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is located in Bavaria, Germany - Bavaria is one of 16 states in Germany.
As you can see, Rothenburg is in Bavaria, but is very near the border of Baden Wurttemburg. It is is located northwest of Munich and southeast of Frankfurt .
This website on Bavaria will provide you with information about other places you may want to visit while in Bavaria, including Munich, the Bavarian Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle (the castle from which Cinderella's castle in Disney World was modeled), Nuremberg, the Romantic Road (Rothenburg is on the Romantic Road), the Bavarian Forest, the concentration camp of Dachau, the Eagle's Nest, and quiet, rural villages.
On this website, you can find out about some of the top places to visit in Baden Wurttenburg, including the Black Forest (which isn't black and consists of more hills than forests), Speyer Cathedral, Heidelberg Castle, Cistercian Maulbronn Monastery (a medieval monastery complex), Europa Park (an amusement park), Stuttgart Christmas Market, and many other places!
Image Credit: The map shown above has been adapted from this map of Germany.
More Places to See In Rothenburg, Germany
Here are some more places you may want to visit while in Rothenburg!
* The Doll and Toy Museum
* The Imperial City Museum
* St. Jacob's Church
* Burggarten (The castle gardens)
* The Double Bridge
* Historical Vaults
* The Christmas Museum
* The interesting shops
- Rothenburg: Famous and Undiscovered Sights
This website includes a map of Rothenburg, as well as photos and information on a number of interesting places to see in Rothenburg.
- Rothenburg Tourist Office
This site contains lists of Rothenburg restaurants, hotels, vacation homes, holiday packages, guided tours, nearby campgrounds, and more! Phone, fax, and an email address are also included.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? - Reading German: A Funny Story!
Before our trip, I had made an effort to learn a little German. I'd had five years of French in middle school and high school, but had never taken German before. On our first day in Germany, we visited with a German friend of mine. As he drove us to a nearby village, I realized, to my amazement, I could read many of the signs and other words we passed! Maybe I drove my German friend crazy, I don't know, but I'd point to a German word I saw as we drove along and say, "Hey, that says, ____ " supplying the English equivalent. It was such a great feeling to be able to look all around the town and actually be able to read some of the German words I saw!
On the morning of our second day in Germany, my family and I boarded a riverboat for a cruise along the Rhine River. We would be on the riverboat most of the day (viewing beautiful castles located around almost every bend!), and thus would be ordering and eating lunch on board the boat. When we got hungry, we went to the dining area of the boat. Although many people in Germany know English, our waiter didn't seem to speak any English. He spoke only in German to us, resorting to gesturing as needed. Knowing that I couldn't rely on the waiter for help, I began reading the menu and translating it into English for my husband. When I got to the bottom of the menu, I looked at the "German" word for "potatoes." Hmmm..something wasn't right... The word said, "pomme de terre," but "potatoes" is "die Kartoffel" in German. "Pomme de terre" is the French word for potatoes! The menu was in French! Suddenly I realized I hadn't been reading the names of German foods at all! Somehow my brain had taken me all the way back to my high school years and helped me read a French menu, even though I thought I'd been reading a German one!! Wow..! (I'm still amazed by this! I thought my French was lost long ago! Yet it seemed as familiar to me as the German I'd just recently been learning. The fact that I didn't even know I was reading French instead of German astonishes me even more. The human brain truly is an amazing thing.)
Oh, in case you are wondering, I later discovered that if I flipped the menu over, I could read it in German too. Spanish, Italian, and even English versions were also provided! (This was the only place in Europe where we saw a menu written in several languages like that.)
I used several different books and games to practice my German before the trip. This one, "German in 10 Minutes a Day," was probably the most fun, as well as effective, of all that I used. Unlike many foreign language programs, this book is geared toward teaching you what you need to know before your visit there.
I loved the flashcards, puzzles, games, and other activities within the book. They helped make the learning of a foreign language be an easy and enjoyable experience! I did the written activities at home, but took the flashcards with me on walks. As I'd walk along, I'd review the flashcards. It was a great way to get some exercise in and study my German at the same time! I also carried the flashcards in my pocketbook, pulling them out and flipping through them for a few minutes whenever I found myself having to wait somewhere (at the dentist, in the carpool line at school, etc.). German in 10 Minutes a Day was a fabulous purchase. If I ever need to learn a different language, I'll purchase another book in the Foreign Language in 10 Minutes a Day series!
Rothenburg In The Movies!
At least part of each of these movies was set in, or inspired by, Rothenburg, Germany!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Movies related to Rothenburg - It'd be fun to watch some movies that were set in, or inspired by, Rothenburg, before (or after) your trip!
Did you know that the charming village in Pinocchio is based on the town of Rothenburg, Germany? Check out the various prices in the "other formats and versions" section of the webpage that opens.
The village scenes in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were Rothenburg.
Parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 1 and 2) were filmed in Rothenburg.
The European Cup was going on while we were there! - Europeans take their celebrating seriously!
While we were vacationing in Europe during the summer of 2008, the European Cup was going on.
Everywhere we went, from one location to the next, people were selling soccer jerseys and caps, watching the game on TV, and celebrating their wins. It seemed to us that no matter what country we happened to be in, that was the country that had just won the latest match. It happened time and time again!
I have to say, though, "the most enthusiasm" award has to go to Torino, Italy. In Torino, excited fans rode up and down the streets blowing their horns, yellowing, and hanging half their bodies out of the car window and waving flags, until the wee hours of the morning. Although we never left our hotel room that night, we got very little sleep! Still, sleep or no sleep, it made the trip more of an experience!
The celebrating was a little different in Rothenburg, Germany. Cars are limited in certain parts of the city, so driving up and down the streets blowing horns at 2 in the morning wouldn't work there. Yet that didn't stop the citizens of Rothenburg from celebrating! As we were eating a quiet dinner at a table outside a Rothenburg restaurant, a parade of German men came by wearing soccer jerseys, waving flags, and singing. They were celebrating the latest German win with much enthusiasm and excitement!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany: A Beautiful Place To VIsit!
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- Manarola, Italy: A Beautiful Village On The Mediterranean
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