One of the major stops on Germany’s Romantische Straße or Romantic Road, Rothenburg is extremely popular. And deservedly so. The town is virtually intact from medieval times, complete with an encircling wall and a fort with turrets and ramparts. Its small-town charms are complemented by spectacular vistas. According to my research, its best features are the brilliant red roofs and the lovely cast-iron signs. Needless to say I was not disappointed, even though the threshold had been raised tremendously after my visits to Prague and Cesky Krumlov. Rothenburg is also highly recommended as a shopping mecca. Prices were surprisingly reasonable for Germany, and we happily did all of our shopping here.
Having arrived here after visiting Cesky Krumlov and Prague, I had thought no other place could have more picturesque roof tops. However Rothenburg oT held its own! Rothenburg’s ace in the hole is the medieval wall which encircles the town. A walk on top of the wall gives you a close, unparalleled look at the splendid rooftops.
Cast-iron signs come in all shapes, sizes, and color.
My telephoto lens died after this very shot, and we still had 3 days left. Argh!
The castle garden
On the westernmost tip of town, the castle garden should be more appropriately called, “The garden on the site of the former castle”. Its manicured grounds is huge, in view of the small size of the town. From here you can get a panoramic view of the roofs of the town, and of the undulating hills all around. High up on the gate to the garden, you can see an head with an open mouth. Through this opening, defenders can pour boiling oil on attackers, one of many unpleasantries for would-be invaders of the town.
The Gingerbread house
Again this isn’t really its name. It looks like it came straight of a fairy tale, however. This is on Spitalgasse near the fort at southern tip of town.
The covered wall are interrupted at intervals by tower-gates. The Roeder tower is the only one which could be climbed. This was the only structure I ascended.
I think the view here would be better than at the town tower or the cathedral, because 1) it’s shorter so you don’t “look down at your feet” as much, and 2) it’s at the edge of town so the view towards the center and the cathedral would be more interesting.
Admission is 3 Euros paid at the top. Also at the top are a few photos showing damages done to the town during WWII.
The elegant cast-iron signs are perfect complements for the red tile roofs. Indeed everything in Rothenburg seems to be perfect. These are taken in front of the Rathaus.
The largest building in Market Square is the New Town Hall, built in the Renaissance style in 1570. Behind it is the old town hall, a 13th-century Gothic building. The tower atop the old town hall is the tallest structure in town and allows a panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside. I opted not to climb this tower, which is on the west side; instead I climbed Roedertor on the east side, which allows a better view in the morning.
The Snake house
Well, that’s not really its name. But the logo of this distinctive building is a green snake. It can be found near the wall on the northeast corner.
Walk the wall
Rothenburg’s most unique feature is the covered wall encircling the town. Gates at intervals along the wall allow entrance into the town. At certain points throughout there are staircases allowing visitors to climb to the top of the wall, where they can walk almost completely around the town without setting foot on the ground.
Many holes along the wall allow medieval defenders to fire at attackers. Somewhere on the East side you’ll find the Roeder Gate. Climbing to the top is a must.
The roof of the wall isn’t very high, anyone taller than 6-feet will probably experience some discomfort.
The many plaques on the wall are inscribed with names of donors who have contributed to the restoration of the wall. There are many names from the USA and, unexpectedly, Japan.
A word of warning: climb up here in the morning and you think you’ll go crazy because there are just so many spectacular photographic opportunities. If you start at the southern tip of town and make your way north along the east side, try not to use up your film right away, because things will always look better after the next turn! I thought by now I’d learned not to expend all my film right off the bat, but that’s exactly what I did :(
Hotel Klosterstueble: Hospitality German-style
Fast, efficient, and very clean. That’s how I’d characterize our German accommodations. We had a pleasant stay at Hotel Jedermann in Munich. Hotel Klosterstueble came highly recommended by both my Rick Steves’ guide book, and we weren’t disappointed. It’s only 2 minutes from the castle garden and 3 from the Rathaus. Erika runs a tight (and spotless) ship. The breakfast buffet is sumptuous. The rooms are a little small, but the furnishings are beautiful. I’d stay there again.
Last visit: 2003 Pros: Very picturesque; wonderful red roofs and cast-iron signs; great shopping Cons: Crowded with tourists In a nutshell: Don’t bother looking further for the perfect medieval town