Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a living postcard of medieval Germany, where time seems to have stood still in its cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses. This well-preserved walled town is a highlight of the Romantic Road and draws visitors with its fairy-tale charm. Here are 20 things that you should not miss when you visit this jewel in Bavaria’s crown.
1. Stroll Through the Old Town
Begin your adventure by wandering the winding alleyways of the Old Town. Each corner turned reveals another picturesque scene, perfect for those who love photography or simply want to soak in the ambiance of a bygone era.
2. Walk atop the Town Walls
Rothenburg’s town walls are remarkably intact and you can walk nearly the entire perimeter. Climbing the old stone steps and walking the covered walkways provides panoramic views of the town and the Tauber Valley.
3. Visit St. Jakob’s Church
St. Jakob’s Church is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Inside, you’ll find the famous Holy Blood altarpiece by Tilman Riemenschneider, a wood carving that depicts the Last Supper in astonishing detail.
4. Explore the Medieval Crime Museum
Delve into the darker side of the past at the Medieval Crime Museum (Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum). It houses an extensive collection of historical law enforcement and legal artifacts, including instruments of torture and punishment.
5. Enjoy the Christmas Market
If you’re visiting in December, the Reiterlesmarkt (Christmas Market) is a must. With its festive stalls, traditional foods, and the seasonal appearance of the ‘Reiterle’, a local Christmas figure, it’s an experience straight out of a holiday tale.
For a truly unique experience, join the Night Watchman’s Tour. As dusk falls, follow the night watchman in his traditional cloak as he tells tales of Rothenburg’s past, blending history with humor.
7. Step into the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village
Christmas is a year-round event at the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village. Wander through a wonderland of ornaments, nutcrackers, and festive decorations any month of the year.
8. Visit the Imperial City Museum (Reichsstadtmuseum)
The Imperial City Museum is housed in a former convent and showcases the rich history of Rothenburg. It includes a significant collection of art, artifacts, and armor.
9. Climb the Town Hall Tower
For a small fee, you can ascend the Town Hall Tower. The climb is steep, but the reward is a stunning aerial view of the town and the surrounding countryside.
10. Discover the German Christmas Museum
Dedicated to the history and tradition of Christmas in Germany, this museum is fascinating regardless of the season, with a beautiful collection of historical Christmas decorations.
11. Enjoy a Traditional German Meal
Rothenburg offers a variety of traditional German eateries. Try local specialties like Schneeballen (snowballs), a Rothenburg delicacy made of shortcrust pastry, and wash it down with a stein of German beer.
12. Admire the Plönlein
Probably the most photographed spot in Rothenburg, the Plönlein is a picturesque corner where two streets diverge at a yellow half-timbered building, with a fountain in front and a tower behind. It’s the quintessence of Rothenburg’s charm.
13. Explore the Toppler Castle
Take a walk to the Toppler Castle, a small, tower-like castle situated on the banks of the Tauber river. It’s a lovely spot for pictures and to imagine life during the times of knights and nobles.
14. Attend a Festival
Rothenburg is home to several festivals throughout the year. The Medieval Festival “Rothenburger Reichsstadt-Festtage” is a highlight, with citizens dressing in period costumes, parades, and reenactments.
15. Visit the Doll and Toy Museum
The Doll and Toy Museum (Puppen- und Spielzeugmuseum) is a charming little museum that houses a delightful collection of dolls, toys, and miniature houses from different eras.
16. Sample Local Wine
The Franconia region is known for its wines, and Rothenburg is no exception. Visit a local wine cellar to taste wines unique to the area, including the dry white Silvaner and the red Domina.
17. See the Master Builder’s House
The Master Builder’s House (Baumeisterhaus) is an architectural wonder in itself. It’s now a restaurant where you can dine in a setting that feels unchanged from the Renaissance.
18. Take a Guided Day Trip to the Surrounding Area
There’s much to see beyond the walls of Rothenburg. Consider a guided day trip to nearby castles, such as the majestic Schloss Neuschwanstein, or other charming towns along the Romantic Road.
19. Shop for Local Crafts
Artisanal shops abound in Rothenburg, offering handmade goods ranging from pottery to metalwork. It’s the perfect place to find a unique souvenir or gift.
20. Relax in the Castle Garden
Finally, take a moment to unwind in the Castle Garden (Burggarten). With its manicured lawns, blooming flowers, and statues, it’s a serene spot that offers beautiful views and a peaceful break from sightseeing.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is more than just a stopover; it’s a gateway to the past and a treasure trove of experiences. Whether you’re a history buff, a romantic soul, or simply in search of beauty, Rothenburg will capture your heart with its timeless charm.