Rothenburg ob der Tauber means “Red Fortress above the Tauber”, this is a small town in Germany, not far from Stuttgart, a famous destination for tourist around the world. It’s a part of the popular Romantic Road (*) through southern Germany. I have this town in my travel plan on my way to the North Europe last fall. I always enjoy my time in small town, before heading to other big cities.
I depart from Paris early in the morning and arrived to Rothenburg ob der Tauber around 3:00 in the afternoon, my hotel is right in front of the train station, just cross a small road. So, what makes Rothenburg ob der Tauber special? The old town, the medieval town wall…dated back to more than thousand years ago? Let’s discover!
The old town with an iconic picture that goes around the world and every single tourist wants to capture it, so it’s quite busy around that place. But I also like my another discovery when visiting the old town, as I found a beautiful castle garden, behind the western town gate. I spent a lot of time there, my only regret is not to visit the garden in the evening. Now I still wonder why!
Below is the photo from Google map showing us the Medieval old town in Rothenburg – surrounded by the Medieval town wall and many defensive towers dated back to 10-11th century. Besides that, Rothenburg was considered as “the most German of German towns” due to many citizens in this old town were sympathetic to Nazi Party back to 1930-1940s.
Every morning, after a quick breakfast in the hotel, I walk to the old town, the center of the entire Rothenburg, with a lot of attractions, restaurants, shoppings, museums…and, of course, a lot of visitors. But early in the morning, it’s almost empty, except the major streets or the iconic corner…I take my time to explore, to do some shopping, to have my lunch…and for the rest of the day I spent in the castle garden.
Rothenburg Town Hall situated in the centre of the historical Old Town, a favorite place for the crowds to gather as there are several hotels and restaurants right in front of the Town Hall. The beautiful building in a gothic and renaissance style, with the 48-m tall tower, the arcades, the spiral staircase and the 400 m2 hall used to receive the emperor, dating back to 1681.
At the Roedertor tower, the east end of the city, and is open daily for visitors to climb up. It’s almost 61 meters tall. At the top of the tower, with an admission fee of 2 euros, we can enter the room with a scenic view of almost the entire town and to see displayed manuscripts to provide the historical information about the construction and relevant history of the city wall.
Rothenburg has appeared in several fantasies films, it’s the inspiration for several movies, like the village in Walt Disney movie – “Pinocchio” or the town in the Japanese manga and anime series “A Little Snow Fairy Sugar” (it reminds me of my times working in the manga industry with Japanese for several years!) or the two famous parts of ” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was filming in Rothenburg.
The colorful half-timber houses and cobblestone alleys of Rothenburg are probably something familiar as it could be seen in many other European old towns, Rothenburg has something more – the town is surrounded by a timeless Medieval stone wall protecting the trading center and its royal castle, back to 12th century.
To be honest, walking along on the wall is quite interesting, especially at some corners, towers I do stop to admire the view, the scenery…but also tiring as it takes nearly hour, go up and down quite steep staircases, to continue my walk I need to get to the next staircases to climb up again and go on with my “hiking”…There are some agencies offering the walking tour within the wall, you surely learn more interesting stories from them.
We notice many stone plaques inside the wall with family names on them…they are the sponsor’s names as during the WW2 more than 600 meters of the wall were destroyed by the bombs. Later with some donations the wall was restored, close to its original state. If in 1950 people used to sponsor around $40 for one meter long of the wall by buying plaques with their family names on them, now it could cost much over $2000 per meter.
To be continued with the beautiful castle garden…
(*) Romantic Road describes the 350 kilometres of surface roads between Würzburg and Füssen in southern Germany, specifically in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, linking a number of picturesque towns and castles.