Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber ()

Visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber feels like stepping back in time. The cobblestone streets and half-timbered buildings are still surrounded by the medieval city wall and perched above the Tauber Gorge. Although it can become quite crowded, this village is a highlight of medieval architecture and atmosphere.

There is ample tourist parking outside the city walls in five lots. I recommend parking in lot four, east of town, because it is only for cars and avoids the bus crowds. Plus, you can walk right into town through two gates: the Galgentor or the Rödertor where you can climb up the tower for a bird’s eye view of this scenic town.

Sightseeing and Shopping

In the morning, visit the Plönlein city square for one of the most famous photo ops in Germany: a wonky yellow half-timbered house with two towers behind it. From there, wander the quaint shops along Schmiedgasse toward the central Marktplatz. Along the way, you will pass the Medieval Crime Museum, which has interactive exhibits dedicated to the cruel and often gruesome methods of punishment and witch-hunting of the Middle Ages.

Near the Marktplatz, grab an outdoor table at one of the bakeries for a coffee and a local fried shortbread treat known as a schneeball. These baseball-sized desserts are traditionally covered with powdered sugar and have been a local specialty for 300 years. Be sure to check out the Fountain of St. George in the Marktplatz; Disney created a duplicate at their German pavilion in EPCOT. Nearby is the headquarters for the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store chain where you can get lost in the massive shop or visit the German Christmas Museum.

Walk the City Walls

When the bus crowds begin to pour in, it’s a good time to escape to the edge of the city. Walk down Herngasse and out of the wall into the Burggarten where the original castle was built in 1142, and then subsequently destroyed in an earthquake in 1356 leaving only the chapel.

Walking the entire city wall circuit takes about two and a half hours and is the perfect way to get a view of the entire town. Along the south side, the walk is atop the city wall and high above the Tauber Gorge. As the wall curves south, look back for some amazing views of the city over the gorge. The southern city wall is some of the best preserved and least visited. You will find yourself walking high above the local parks and streets on a roofed wooden gangway with occasional window views out over the valley below.

There are 42 towers still standing in Rothenburg. Be sure to check out the impressive double courtyards of the Spital Tor (gate) at the far south of town. The eastern and northern portions of the city wall have both an upper gangway and a trail outside of the wall through pretty parkland. Mix it up by taking advantage of the fortification’s many gates.

Stay Late

Join the hour-long historical Nightwatchman tour, offered daily April-December. Join this fun tour of the town at 8 p.m. in the Marktplatz, no reservations are needed. Tours cost nine euros (cash) for adults, half off for students and kids 12 and under are free. If you can stay later, or make an overnight trip, finding a table in the Marktplatz is the place for an evening out. Both the Ratsstube and Delphi stay open late.

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Kat is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Kaiserslautern, Germany with a special interest in anything outdoorsy or ancient. She has a bachelor’s degree in geography from Penn State University and has been a travel writer for about 10 years. Currently, she is in the depths of dissertation research for an archaeology degree at the University of the Highlands and Islands. 

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