Germany’s highlight: Bavarian walled cities

Germany’s highlight: Bavarian walled cities

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

The feeling of stepping back in time isn’t difficult to come across when traveling through Europe. With history lurking around every corner, it’s hard to avoid. But stepping into a walled city speeds up that feeling, immediately jolting you back in time as you are surrounded by centuries-old fortifications built to protect the city’s inhabitants. Today we go on a tour of three walled cities in Bavaria: Dinkelsbühl, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Nördlingen. If you’re itching for history and charming German towns, you can make a trip of traveling along Bavaria’s Romantic Road and visit these three spots. While you can visit in any order or just choose one or two, we will move north to south.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The most well-known of the three towns, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (on the river) is the quintessential Bavarian town with its medieval walls, colorful half-timbered houses and postcard-perfect photos waiting to be taken. Interestingly, during the Middle Ages, Rothenburg was the second-largest city in Germany, home to 6,000 people. While it can no longer claim that title, it welcomes in far more visitors every year. This will be the most touristy walled city to visit by far, but that’s because you really can’t mess with a classic. Visit the Town Hall tower for a gorgeous view of the town and surrounding landscapes, walk along the medieval wall—a 1.5-mile loop—or visit one of the town’s many museums, like the German Christmas Museum or Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum.


Next on our route is Dinkelsbühl, which has been named the “most beautiful old town in Germany.” While we could argue with this, we won’t, because Dinkelsbühl is a great option if you want to avoid the tourism of Rothenburg and still find the storybook, historic setting. The preservation of Dinkelsbühl’s surrounding fortifications is in part because this town escaped ravaging by the Thirty Years’ War and Second World War, unlike our other two towns. There are 16 towers along the wall, with the most famous ones being Rothenberger Tor and Segringer Tor. In terms of cuteness and charm, Dinkelsbühl’s Wine Market is the main event, full of cafes, shops and beautifully colored buildings.


Our last walled city is Nördlingen. What’s most interesting about this city is that it is built into a 15-million-year-old crater called the “Nördlingen Ries.” The town was the site of two prominent battles during the Thirty Years’ War. There are five gates interspersed throughout the wall and they all lead to the center marketplace and St. George’s church. You can make your way to the top of the church tower to truly experience the sight of the crater, medieval walls, gates and colorful, historic buildings. Fans of the film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” should also note that the final scene was filmed in Nördlingen.

Germany offers so many different sights, sounds and experiences to travelers. And if you’re searching for the picturesque, charming and back-in-time side of the country, these three towns are sure to whisk you away.

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