The International Writers Magazine: Bavaria
ob der Tauber
A Medieval Jewel
will captivate you with half-timbered houses, colorful gabled
buildings and shop windows decorated with beer steins and wooden
nutcrackers. A plethora of year round Christmas Shops will dazzle
you with brightly lit trees dripping with ornaments.
Hand carved Bavarian
Cuckoo clocks come alive hourly, and the clopping of horses hooves
on the cobbled streets will entice you into a carriage ride.This walled
in city is an exceptional jewel from the middle Ages. It all began with
the founding of a castle in the 10th century. Today, it inhabits 12,500
people inside and outside the walls. Arriving by car, it will be apparent
that there is no need for one within the confines of the walls. I parked
mine during my sojourn. What I found most enjoyable about Rothenburg
is the leisurely pace wondering the ancient streets. Theres no
need to rush with the fear of missing out on any of the sights. Rothenburg
is compact and you can see it in its entirety in two full days. Its
also one of the most popular destinations for German day-trippers. The
storybook town lies on a plateau at the intersection of the "Romantic
Road," which travels south to Bavaria. A fortified wall surrounds
it, and entry is gained via the Kobolzeller Gate.
© S Fogwell
outside wall is decorated with coats of arms of the imperial city, including
the imperial eagle. In the 12th century, the first city walls were built,
however, in 1356; an earthquake struck the city and destroyed all of
the fortifications. The walls were rebuilt, and were partially destroyed
again by bombs in World War II.
Fortunately, an American general hindered total destruction of the city.
After the war, the town was rebuilt in the old style and fortifications
were restored with the support of friends and well-wishers from all
parts of the world. Walking along the wall, you can view the names of
people who donated money for the restoration.
Encompassing the town, the wall is approximately one mile and a half
long, it took me about an hour to walk around it. Its an entertaining
walk and a good way to get your bearings of the city.Marketplatz, the
main cobbled square, is an inviting area surrounded by Patricians
houses and the City Councillors Tavern. The focus of the towns
life is viewed here.
After meandering around the towns streets and alleyways, the gothic
Town Halls steps provide a perfect resting and people watching
spot. If you look up from the steps, to your left, you will see three
clocks on the face of the taverns baroque gable. For a fun diversion,
at various times throughout the day, figures appear representing the
principal parties in the "Drinking feat," which took place
during The Thirty Years War.
The shutters open, and figures appear drinking beer from steins. This
scene always gets a chuckle from the crowd congregating below. The Town
Halls interior is well worth seeing as well. As you head for the
staircase tower, coats of arms of Rothenbergs noble families grace
the walls. Climb the 214 narrow steps up the tower where youll
be treated to a shocking aerial view of the entire town. With its
sea of red roofs and innumerable turrets, towers and fortifications,
its the highest and best view in all of Rothenburg. Each patrician
house in the square has a fascinating tale behind it. A favorite, which
happens to be one of the finest houses in town, is the Master Builders
House (Baumeisterhaus) built in 1596 in the Renaissance style. The steps
of the gable are ornamented by S- shaped dragons and particularly
noticeable are the supporting figures in the windows of both upper stories
of men and women alternately representing the seven virtues and vices.
In the lower row, standing next to one another, youll see Compassion,
Gluttony, Motherly Love and Treachery. It is also worth having a look
at the delightful inner courtyard, which is exactly as it was in the
13th century, and which today boasts a café. In addition to the
abundance of shops, there are several small, intriguing museums. Dont
pass up the opportunity to visit the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum.
With more than a 1000 years of history, its the only museum of
law in Europe. Your visit will be enhanced by learning past traditions
about the town. Kurt, a volunteer at the museum pointed out an assortment
of fascinating contraptions- such as the masks of shame worn by women
and men. A metal made mask with a long tongue and big ears, which symbolized
gossip and nosiness, was reserved for the women, and for the men, a
mask with a long nose, and no cutouts for the eyes. Taking it to the
next level, a metal gag was used on nags, and a wooden chair filled
with hundreds of spikes was a torture instrument for witches. Kurt explained,
"People blamed mysterious witches for such things as bad weather
causing crop failures, famine and the plague." "And between
1628 and 1630, witch-hunts broke out and then shortly thereafter petered
out." The last legal witch execution took place in 1775.One of
the most photographed spots in Germany is the "Plonlein."
A half timbered Hansel and Gretel style house is situated in the center
of a tiny intersection, and is framed by the Siebers Tower and
gate." Its an enchanting square, which looks like a setting
in a fairytale. The 13th century Sieber Tower was built out of huge
square stones to protect the confines of the city walls. Toward the
end of the day, this picturesque spot is drenched in golden sunlight-
an ideal time for a perfect photo. Steps away and through the towers
archway, is a 500-year-old building, which is home to the charming Hotel
Gerberhaus. The small romantic rooms with goose down comforters and
nutmeg wood floors are bright and airy. Whether you are in a stenciled
room with a canopy bed overlooking cobbled Spitalgasse, or overlooking
the peaceful courtyard, the hotel is a real gem in the heart of town.
In the cozy dining room, the innkeepers turn out a traditional German
buffet breakfast. And their homemade apple strudel is to die for.
Whatever the season, winter or summer, Rothenburg is a must see, which
will be sure to enchant and enthrall you time and time again, as it
does with me.
If You Go: United, Lufthansa, Delta and
American service Frankfurt International.
Getting to Rothenburg: Driving: Its
111 miles/180km southeast of Frankfurt. The drive will take approximately
an hour and a half. Take the A3 on the Autobahn, at Wurzburg take the
A7 to exit Rothenburg o.d.t .
Train: Trains run frequently from Frankfurt International to Rothenburg.
Its a ten-minute walk from the Rothenburg train station to Market
WHERE TO STAY:
91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
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