Discovering Rothenburg ob der Tauber : a short tour to the Middle Ages

October 21, 2015

My blog contains affiliate links. If you buy through these links any of the offered products I’ll receive an economic compensation, without any additional charges for you. I only publish links to products I've successfully tried myself.




Sorrounded by powerful stone walls, parapets and elevated towers, with fortified gates and massive doors showing a pronounced contrast with the cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and elaborated public buildings, this is Germany’s best-preserved walled town.



The most popular stop along the Romantische Straße -the Romantic Road, a 350 kilometers long fairytale, back-in-time path sorrounded by stunning rural scenery, magnific castles, abbeys, and fascinating small towns- Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of those oustanding towns reminding us the feudal times in a unique assemblage with the Renaissance and Baroque eras. 20140223_151439-e1445459276218-768x1024



My first advises

While more than 2 million people visit the city each year, only half a million spend the night there. So after dark, the lonely streets and lanes are a quiet world to enjoy.

I suggest you to take the hour-long medieval entertainment with Hans Baumgartner, who operates the Night-watchman’s Tour. This friendly and funny guy carries one of the most popular tours in town, in the evenings from March to Christmas, with German and English versions. Wearing a black costume impersonating the original night-watchmen, he offers a unique version of the darkling town while driving you to the Middle Ages with his tales.

Another good option is to take Georg Lehle’s guided rickshaw tour around the town, with an emphasis in the executioner tower and the stories and uses behind it and the death penalty. His English tour takes place before the English version of the “Night-watchman’s Tour” listed above, so it is possible to combine both.

Now let me start with the places you must see


1. Marktplatz (Market Square)



The heart of the town, as in any medieval village.

This is the scenario in which the Master Draught legend was originated.

The legend says that in 1631, during the Thirty Years’ War, Rothenburg was captured by Imperial General Tilly, who commanded the Catholic forces.

As a desperate sign of goodwill, the councilors offered him wine in a huge flagon that could easily hold more than three litres.

Tilly initially intended to burn down the town, but decided to show clemency saying that he would spare Rothenburg only if anyone could empty the vessel in one steady chug.

The former Mayor Nunsch came forward and met the challenge, drinking about 3 ¼ liters of Franconian wine in a single gulp.

The Count of Tilly was suitably impressed and let the town stand.

Whether this is true nobody really knows, but it’s undoubtedly a great story, which also gave rise to the anual Meistertrunk festival, a historical and entertaining spectacle.


2. Rothenburg Ratthaus (Town Hall)


Local master-builder Leonhard Weidmann designed and built this imposing example of Renaissance architecture between 1572 and 1578, but the baroque-style arcade wasn’t added until 1681.



3. Ratstrinkstube (Councilor’s Tavern)


The main feature is the clock on the facade, dating back to 1683, illustrating the Master Draught. The doors of the clock open on the hour between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Up at the gable you can also see a sun dial from 1768 and the famous city coat of arms.

Today the building houses the Rothenburg Tourismus Service.


4. Fleisch- und Tanzhaus (Meat and Dance House) and Marienapotheke (St. Mary’s Pharmacy)



Behind the St. George Fountain we will see the two half-timbered gables

In the old days, the vaulted rooms on the top floor of the Fleisch- und Tanzhaus were a place for dancing and celebrations, while butchers sold their wares down below.

To its right is the Marienapotheke building, a genuine apothecary’s shop, which started to attend the needs of the inhabitants back in 1812.

The real name of the building is the “Jagstheimerhaus”, since the Mayor Jagstheimer commanded the building of the houseuilt in 1448. The legendary Major Nunsch lived here.



5. Feuerleinserker (Feuerleins Oriel)


A picturesque oriel on the corner of Klingengasse, one of the main favorites for photographers.                                   

6. Main spots of the fortified Wall

Galgentor (Gallow’s Gate)wall

Klingentor (Klingen Gate) Klingentor1

Kobolzeller Tor (Kobolzell Gate)KobolzellerTor

Markusturm (Marcus Tower) and Röderbogen (Röder Arch) markusturm

Rödertor (Röder Gate)Rodertor-300x199

Spitaltor (Hospital’s Gate)Spitaltor

Burgtor (Castle’s Gate)



7. Burggarten (Castle Gardens)

The correct name should be “the gardens in the castle’s site”, since the castle did not have a garden at all, and they just occupy the site where the Hohenstaufen family established the imperial castle in 1142.



After entering the gardens, the visitor will be immediately attracted to his left by the wonderful view of the southern part of the town and the Tauber Valley as well as the Double Bridge and the Kobolzeller Church.





8. Baumeisterhaus (Master-Builder’s House)Baumeisterhaus

Back to the town center, located close to the Marktplatz, this is where the master-builder Leonard Weidmann lived and worked.

The main appeal of the house is the renaissance facade, with the depiction of the seven virtues and the seven deadly sins -their originals can be seen in the Imperial Town Museum-. This is now used as a café and restaurant.





9. Plönlein (“Little Square”)pl square

One of the most famous postcard images from Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

A narrow and colorful half-timbered building with a small fountain in front, framed by the Kobolzeller tower and the higher Siebers Tower.

If you have enough time and are in the mood to deepen in history, Rothenburg ob der Tauber also houses a number of interesting and one-of-a-kind museums and churches.

The ones I really find worth a visit if you are on a limited schedule :

Imperial Town Museum

To see : the historical living quarters, in particular the well-preserved 13th century convent kitchen -the oldest of its kind known today-, and the renowned Baumann Foundation. Its colection lets visitors trace the history of European weaponry from the Stone Age to the 19th Century.

Also noteworthy is the Judaica Department, showing the waves of dispossession and expulsion of the jews that began in the 13th century.


Medieval Crime Museum

It’s the only museum of law and criminology history in Europe.

The impressive exhibits, detailed commentary, plenty of terrible instruments of torture, offer a -not so easy to forget- insight into the complexities of the appliances of law at those times.

There is also a whole department dedicated to witchcraft and witch-hunting in Bavaria.

Some visitors may react with horror and apprehension, but others will surely wish it had a gift shop.


Christmas Museum


Located inside the Weihnachtsdorfes –Käthe Wohlfhart Christmas’ shop, like the one we talk about in Heidelberg-, the doors of the museum are open all year round. 20140224_101524-e1445461062348-1024x731

Another back-in-time place, where we can find the spirit and the atmosphere of Christmas just as our grandparents and their grandparents enjoyed it. DSC_0642ar-1024x681

Or experience how Christmas decorations have evolved over time, while enjoying the ambiance, amid countless tree decorations, cribs, candleholders, figurines and more.20140223_141203-e1445469790281-764x1024


History Museum with Town Dungeon

Here you can dive back in time to the days when the Thirty Years’ War involved Rothenburg. Life-size figures are used to illustrate scenes as they might have happened at the time.

In the antique vaults, the 16th and 17th century exhibits are an impressive reminder of those dark times, containing various recreations such as a medieval writing room and a guard room from 1631.

A narrow staircase leads to the old jail, which was also used as a torture chamber.

Rothenburg’s most famous mayor, Heinrich Toppler, was once imprisoned here.


St. Jacob’s Church 

This is the most important church in Rothenburg, and still dominates the town’s skyline to this day.

Completed in 1485, its main treasure -and German’s greatest piece of woodcarving- is the Altar of the Holy Blood crafted between 1499 and 1505 in representation of the Last Supper, and regarded as one of the finest works of Tilman Riemenschneider, considered by many the greatest German wooden carver. To have a closer view you may climb the stairs behind the organ.

Altar st jakob

Also to be seen: the Twelve Apostles Altar (Main Altar) by Friedrich Herlin -depicting the oldest surviving representation of the town- and the stained glass in the East Choir.


When it comes to eat and drink

Due to its geographic location, Rothenburg straddles the similar, yet opposing tastes of Franconia and Bavaria.

Franconia is one of Germany’s emerging major wine district. It even has a tourist route specifically dedicated to Frankenwein: the “Bocksbeutel Strasse”, the ideal place to taste Riesling, Sylvaner, Bacchus, Mueller-Thurgau and Pinot Blanc on the whites’ side, or the Pinot Noir/Spaetburgunder, Domina and Dornfelder if you prefer the reds. Now forgive me, but I refuse to talk about Rosées…

On the other hand, Bavaria will offer the great local beers, Swabian spaetzle (noodles) and large dumplings, trouts and other freshwater fishes, swayed by venison and other local game, or Grandmother’s style cooking full of formidable soups, meaty sausages and roasts of pork, veal and beef seasoned with thick, succulent gravies.

We can also find international cuisine and even the well known hamburguers’-chain stores, but why on Earth were you going to drive to Franconia to eat those stuff you may find elsewhere?

Time for a food-related advise: you’ll read or hear about a pastry specialty, a fried ball of pie crust called Schneeball. pastries-225840_1280-300x200

They may be famous -over promoted I’ll say-, but for me you can calmly avoid them, without a hitch. For me they are nearly inedible.

They have almost no taste, unless you choose the small sized ones, which benefitiate better of the frosting or flavouring which topped them.

Again, this is just my own humble opinion, take it as it is.


A final history reference: in 1986, argentine priest Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will become Pope Franciscus in 2013, spent a time in Rothenburg ob der Tauber to learn German. 


You Might Also Like


  • Reply Hugo Huertas August 15, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Thanks for your comments!

  • Reply Rigoberto August 5, 2016 at 2:50 am

    I was excited to uncover this page. I wanted to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!!
    I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to see new
    stuff on your web site.

    • Reply Hugo Huertas August 9, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      Thanks for your comments!
      I hope you’ll find my future posts better than the previous ones

  • Reply Cecil August 4, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    That is really interesting, You’re an overly skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and sit up for looking for extra of
    your magnificent post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

    • Reply Hugo Huertas August 9, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      I hope you find my future posts even better, I’m working to achieve this goal.

  • Reply Fredericka August 4, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.

    • Reply Hugo Huertas August 9, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Glad you like it!
      Give it a try and let me know about your experience. I hope you enjoy your visit to Rothenburg o.d.T.!

  • Reply online betting malaysia May 22, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    I have been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts in this kind of area .
    Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website. Reading this information So i am happy to exhibit that I’ve an incredibly good uncanny
    feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I such
    a lot certainly will make certain to don?t fail to remember this site and
    give it a look on a constant basis.

    • Reply Hugo Huertas May 22, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Hope to

      Thanks for your comments!
      Hope to have you visiting my blog again in the future!

  • Reply amazon April 25, 2016 at 3:10 am

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing
    the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to
    say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so
    people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for
    only having one or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

    • Reply Hugo Huertas May 1, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks for your suggestion!
      Up to now, this blog is intended to let people get into the knowledge of places out of the beaten tracks, not just a photo-blog only loaded with images. You can find tons of that kind of blogs elsewhere, I try to deepen a bit more in the background for those wanting to avoid the omnipresent rush and the tour’s feeling of “If it’is Tuesday, this must be Belgium”.
      I know that it’s said that a picture is worth more than a thousand words, but I believe that it doesn’t work always that way…
      But I will take in consideration your advice for future posts, anyway, perhaps trying to balance a little more text and images.

  • Reply Hugo Huertas April 2, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Thank you! I really appreciate your feedback
    Keep coming back to my blog, to find more great places to visit, and my tips to enjoy them at their best

  • Reply Hugo Huertas April 2, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks for your comments!
    The contact button is available on the page, but feel free to contact me this way or through Facebook
    Hope to receive mor feedback from you soon

  • Reply Hugo Huertas April 2, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks for your kind comments!
    Your feedback helps me to keep working on new posts about other great destinations

  • Reply Hugo Huertas March 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Thanks for your comments!
    Brussels is in the main list for future post, so keep visiting my site!

  • Reply March 7, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    I really like it when individuals come together and share
    views. Great site, stick with it!

    • Reply Hugo Huertas March 17, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      Thank you!
      Hope you keep visiting my blog

  • Reply Hugo Huertas January 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Thanks for ypur kind words!

  • Reply review January 10, 2016 at 5:40 am

    I’ve learn some good stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how much attempt you put to create any such magnificent informative website.

    • Reply Hugo Huertas January 11, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment!
      I try to give the best insights I can from those places I was luck to visit

  • Reply google plus account for business December 2, 2015 at 6:52 am

    I love what you guys are usually up too. This type of clever work
    and exposure! Keep up the wonderful works guys
    I’ve incorporated you guys to our blogroll.

    • Reply Hugo Huertas January 11, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      I’ll keep trying to offer honest insights about both famous and big cities and those less known or out of the mian tourist routes

    Leave a Reply


    Enjoyed your visit? Spread the word!

    Pin it!
    Follow by Email