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Germany - Bavaria

Rothenburg

A Karen Brown Recommendation
Rothenburg Rothenburg, Night Watchman Rothenburg, Carriage Ride through Town Rothenburg, Marketplace
Rothenburg. This is truly one of Europe’s most enchanting towns (you can drive and park your car within the walls only if you are staying at a hotel—they provide you with a parking permit). Walking down the cobblestoned streets of Rothenburg is rather like taking a stroll through an open-air museum: there is history in every stone. Rothenburg’s old houses, towers, and gateways that have withstood the ravages of the centuries are there for you to explore. Tourists throng the streets, but somehow the town has the ability to absorb them and not let their numbers spoil its special magic. Being such a popular tourist destination, Rothenburg has a rich choice of places to stay: our selections are covered in the Hotel Descriptions section. Rothenburg has narrowly escaped destruction on several occasions. In 1945, the Allies ordered Rothenburg destroyed as part of the war reprisals but an American general, remembering the picture of Rothenburg that hung on his mother’s wall, tried to spare the town. His efforts were successful and although Rothenburg was somewhat damaged, the town remained intact. During the Thirty Years’ War, General Tilly’s army laid siege to the town and, despite spirited resistance, breached the walls. Tilly demanded that the town be destroyed and its councilors put to death. He assembled the town councilors to pass sentence on the town and was offered a drink from the town’s ceremonial tankard filled with 3½ liters of the best Franconian wine. After having drunk and passed the cup among his subordinates, Tilly then, with a touch of humor, offered to spare the town and the lives of the councilors if one of its representatives could empty the tankard in one go. Nusch, a former mayor, who seems to have been good at drinking, agreed to try. He succeeded and saved the town. Apparently he slept for three days after the feat. Several times a day (11 am, noon, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, 7 pm, 8 pm, 9 pm) in the marketplace the doors on either side of the clock open and the figures of Tilly and Nusch reenact the historic drinking feat.For an entertaining and informative insight into the history of the town join, the *nightwatchman on his nightly rounds. (April to end of December, meet under the clocktower in the market square.) The English tour begins after the 8 pm drinking feat, and arrives back at the square just in time for the 9 pm event. (The German tour leaves at 9:30 pm.)The brochure Rothenburg Worth Seeing, Worth Knowing is carried by all hotels and the tourist office—with this and map in hand set off to explore. Be sure to include a section of the *city walls: climb the stairs to the walkway and follow the covered ramparts, which almost encircle the town (the stones with names are placed in honor of people from around the world who have donated money for the walls’ restoration). If you have in tow adolescents whose delights gravitate toward the gruesome, be sure to include a stop at the Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum (Museum of Medieval Justice). Here you will find various instruments of torture such as the headpiece for women who gossiped too much and the dunking chair for bakers who did not make their loaves the correct size. (9 am–6 pm, April to October; 2–4 pm, November to March.) The Reichsstadt Museum in the Dominican Convent offers an English sheet that guides you through rooms full of furniture (including the convent kitchen and chemist’s shop), past lots of paintings of Rothenburg, and encourages you to find the Meistertrunk (Kürfurstenhumpen), the cup that is claimed to be the one used at the drinking feat. (10 am–5 pm, April to October.) Wander down *Herrengasse, where the merchants and patricians lived in their elegant mansions, through the old gate with its little after-curfew entrance, and glance back to see the scary mask mouth where defenders of the town poured hot tar down on their attackers. The pretty castle garden offers lovely countryside views. Rothenburg has many lovely shops and boutiques, one of the most enchanting being Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christkindlmarkt. Claiming to offer the world’s largest selection of Christmas items, a tiny storefront near the market square opens up to a vast fairyland of decorated Christmas trees and animated Stieff animals. The town’s culinary specialty is Schneeballen, a dessert looking like snowballs, made up of layers of thin strips of pastry rolled up, deep-fried, and then dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
Traveler Reviews of
Rothenburg:
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One of the things we enjoyed and still talk about is waking up at 5:30a.m. and walking the entire length of the town wall (I think it was 2 miles?) then walked through the town. We did not see one person in the two hours we were exploring. It was as if we had the whole town to ourselves and if you’ve seen pictures of the town it’s magical especially in the early morning hours.
Review by Jaimee Holdgate on Jan 9, 2011

Overall Rating:
5
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