Explore Germany's quaint town of Dinkelsbühl

by Amanda Palumbo
Stripes Europe

The definition of “quaint” may change over the centuries but Bavaria’s Dinkelsbühl has not. This historic city is one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in the world. Transport yourself back in time just by strolling into its city center and you’ll see what was considered “quaint” in the 15th century.

The German magazine, FOCUS, that knows a thing or two about beautiful German cities, chose Dinkelsbühl as “Schönste Altstadt Deutschlands” or “most beautiful old town in Germany.” It impressively beat out cities like Heidelberg and its Bavarian brother Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

A major piece of the city’s historic authenticity is it was unscathed during both world wars as well as the Thirty Years War. Every summer, its residents celebrate “Kinderzeche” when the town surrendered to Swedish troops. The legend claims when the Swedish army stormed the town in 1632, a brave teenage girl gathered the town’s children, approached the general and begged for mercy. The move touched the general who recently lost his young son and he spared the town.

Dinkelsbühl is one of the first stops on Germany’s Romantic Road on the north end. The fortified city was first established in 1305. It is still surrounded by old, intact medieval walls and towers as if still protecting it, but instead of invaders, it kept modern or outside influences out. Most are in nearly mint condition, giving so much more than a glimpse of the past. You’re getting the full picture.

Two of its most famous towers (there are 16) are Rothenberger Tor and Segringer Tor. Rothenberger Tor still greets travelers coming from the north, as it has for centuries. You can drive through its entry for a “Back to the Future” type experience. The other tower sticks out like a sore thumb, a beautiful sore thumb that is. The original Segringer Tor collapsed and was rebuilt in 1655 but in Baroque style, giving it a classic dome in burnt-orange and green lantern on top.

The area that will stop you in your tracks with an audible gasp is the city’s Weinmarkt on the Alstadt’s west side. Five gorgeous gabled houses line the street but to call them just “houses” is far too ordinary of a word. They are works of art rather than just timber and stone, radiating pastel hues that demand you stop and take in its beauty. It is Dinkelsbühl’s visual main event.

At the very end sits the city’s former “Ratstrinkstube” or councilor’s tavern which acted as a gathering place, bar and lodging for not only its council but famous figures like Emperor Charles V and King Gustav Adolf. The 470-year-old three-story building with its famous spire is now the city’s library.

Before you leave Dinkelsbühl, you need one more postcard-worthy view. Saint George Church, completed in 1499, is a gothic cathedral that looks so much bigger on the inside. The wide-aisled church with its towering columns and a vaulted ceiling complete with ornate religious statues and painting could give Cologne’s Catherdral a run for its money. While the inside will distract you with its commanding stonework, head to the bell tower. Like many other churches in Europe, you can climb to the very top and get the panoramic view of one of the most beautiful cities that has the award to prove it.

There’s a lot to see on Germany’s Romantic Road but Dinkelsbühl should be your first or last stop.

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