Things To Do In Rothenburg
Among the many towns of Bavaria and in particular of the Romantic Road, the fortified medieval town of Rothenburg emerges for its beauty and charm. Walking through the old town that is full of narrow streets and palaces, half-timbered houses and towers along its boundary walls that are well preserved is like going back in time and reliving the era of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Following the path of the patrol you can admire the medieval ramparts and the twelve towers of the city that are still perfectly preserved. The fascinating walk is also an opportunity to enjoy the scenic views of the valley. Do not miss the Renaissance Town Hall, Marktplatz, Rothenburg Old Town; the Medieval Crime Museum and the Gothic church St. Jakob with an extraordinary altar created by Tilman Riemenschneider, engraver of the Renaissance.
This small city in Bavaria is a real jewel, surrounded by intact city walls that can be crossed in a fascinating journey of several kilometers. Its streets, its colored houses create a fairy tale atmosphere, especially at sunset and in the evening. The city is pedestrian or more accessible on foot, but several parking (with fees) is available all around the city. The parking lots 4 and 5 are the closest to the central square. Just next to the door leading to the parking lot 4, there is access to one of the towers of the ramparts and you can go up to see the panoramic view of the city and the surrounding area.
When To Go:
The high season months for tourism offer the best climate, whether it’s Spring (September to October), Summer (June to August), Winter (November to February) or Fall (March to May). If you want to come here during the peak season, the best time is during the Christmas holiday because of the Christmas market. It is also the birthplace of the headquarters of a Christmas decorations shop called the Käthe Wohlfahrt. This is the busiest time of the year and if you are not into huge crowds and want to travel in peace, avoid the holiday season. The region of Bavaria is blessed with comfortable climate all year round and there is no definite or specific time to say when to go and when not to go. It is all a matter of preference or mostly depends on your travel itinerary and the purpose of your tour. Even the summer season is not as humid as other countries in Europe, but be prepared for sudden rain showers in the afternoon and have a ready umbrella or raincoat in your bag. During the winter season, aside from having extra cash when shopping for Christmas gifts, it is mandatory to bring thick jackets, boots, and gloves in your luggage because it tends to get colder towards the evening. Spring is also one of the peak seasons where you can definitely enjoy the best weather, because it is neither humid nor too cold. The walled city and the colorful houses look more radiant at this time of the year because the flowers along the road are in full bloom.
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These are the main attractions and things to do in the city of Rothenburg…
St. Jacob's Church (St. Jakobskirche)
The St. Jacob's Church (St. Jakobskirche) is an authentic Gothic Church in Rothenburg that is worth visiting because of the altar of the Sacred Heart. An entrance fee of 2 Euros is required to gain access to the interior of this church. The Church of St. Jacob is an Evangelical Lutheran church built between 1311 and 1484 in Gothic style. In the east of the church choir section is where you can locate the magnificent Gothic altarpiece and an altar in the center made by Hans Waidenlich. The sculptures are of Friedrich Herlin and paintings by Martin Greulich.
In the west gallery of St. Jakobskirche, you will find the Holy Blood altarpiece carved in wood by Tilman Riemenschneider Würzburg (who is called the "Franconian Michelangelo") crafted between 1500 and 1505. The arch and the stained glass windows still retain the shine and brightness. You can observe the beautiful carvings dating from 1500, the presentation of the Last Supper and the drop of Christ's blood through the artworks displayed inside this church. The towers get lit at night and the imposing presence of the church overlooks the city.
The Old Town Of Rothenburg
The first impression upon arrival at the Old Town of Rothenburg is that you've travelled back in time. The condition of most of the village is perfect and anyone can cross it freely in each of Its streets, nooks and crannies. Markplatz is located on the Town Hall and it features two different architectural styles (Gothic and Renaissance) and the Church of St. James, whose construction lasted almost a century.
The main street is Herrengasse where the famous warehouse of Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas items whose commercial adventure began right here is located. You have to savor strolling through its well-preserved streets, stopping in small bars and restaurants to make the most of your day. With its fairy-tale atmosphere, the unique architecture of the houses in a natural environment is just as special and not to be missed!
In this town that is full of old half-timbered houses (Fachwerk, timbered house, etc.), a special feature is the presence of the almost three kilometer Town Walls surrounding the historical center. It is largely renovated (plaques with the names of donors scattered all over the walkway), restores the medieval atmosphere of the village, and allow a spectacular view of the houses and the city. The medieval walls of Rothenburg, which embraces the whole town is well kept, preserved, and made accessible via walkways. Walking beside the walls, you can count between 42 towers and gates that protected the Rothenburg City from unauthorized access with its complex and defensive architecture.
These walls recognize several fortifications while visiting the town. First, there is the Burg that is now collapsed and located in the area of the same name above the Tauber. Then, you can see the boundary wall around the city that stretches until the Eisenhut and Weissturm, which are both located outside of the city. Finally, it passes the current circle, but in the area over the coming Schmiedegasse Siebersturm and the extension until the Spital Bastion. The walls are still viable; offers a nice walk and serves like a beautiful curtain between the north and the Klingentor Galgentor side where you can hop on the high walls. If you like taking pictures, it is a scenic spot not to be missed. You can get on and off at various points of the city, and spend the day with great satisfaction!
Rothenburg Town Hall (Rathaus)
The Rothenburg Town Hall (Rathaus) with its magnificent Renaissance facade was built between 1572 and 1578 under the direction of architect Leonard Weidmann. You can climb to the top of the City Hall tower (there are 220 steps) measuring sixty meters high and from the vantage point contemplate the roofs and facades of the medieval city. After climbing all types of stairs through the town hall and the tower where some are very narrow and steep, your effort will be rewarded with a wonderful panorama of the city.
Rothenburg is full of buildings, towers, churches and walls, and seeing it at a bird's eye view with the surrounding countryside is a very pleasant experience. The restaurants around offer various specialties of the region, but there are bakeries that sell the famous snowballs that are made of a special dough, powdered sugar and chocolate covered. The Rathaus is an international meeting place and a landmark starting point for many walking and day tours of the city. It is one of the main attractions of Rothenburg that looks equally radiant at night when illuminated.
Das Plönlein is a very picturesque street with many shops. These shops make the street a bit too commercial and attract hordes of tourists. However, it is superbly located just behind the bastion and near the city gate. During the day there are so many people taking pictures and finding a clear spot is hardly possible. You can visit this part of Rothenburg preferably in the evening or early morning to avoid the mass of tourists.
This tight little house sandwiched between two roads and tower of the walls as a backdrop is the most distinctive and photographed tourist attraction of the city. The half-timbered houses, colorful facades and towers in the background oblige every tourist to take marvelous pictures and memorable impressions of Rothenburg City.
One of the highlights of a visit to Rothenburg is the Burggarten or the ancient city garden. It is a cliff from where it overlooks the entire valley of the river Tauber, and the former double medieval bridge that connects the town to other mandatory attractions. It has a paved road that leads to the river and this bridge. The garden is adjacent to the walls of the Altstadt, so after a long walk through the ancient streets you can relax and sit here in the shade of the huge elm trees.
In the garden there are benches, many local and foreign visitors come here to sit and read a book in silence. The garden is not too crowded even during the peak season and you can always find a secluded spot. It is a colorful and flower filled garden with beautiful views of the valley. Burggarten is a haven of peace and outstanding viewpoint where you can see small sculptures between the beds, the memorial that recalls the massacre of the Jews of Rothenburg in 1298, the chapel; everything is beautifully presented here.
Imperial City Museum (Reichsstadtmuseum)
The Imperial City Museum or the Reichsstadtmuseum is a former medieval convent founded in 1258 and destroyed in 1554. It was modified over the centuries and in 1936 was developed into a museum by the city council. They have exposed numerous historical objects, sculptures, paintings, weapons, armor, etc. The house itself is an attractive site and walking through the rooms is mandatory to relive the past and understand what life was like for those who lived during the medieval time. The scope of the exhibition is diverse and ranges from the flint tools of the primitive man to the armor of knights and landscapes of modern times.
German Christmas Museum (Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum)
It is a museum and a Christmas decoration shop that will delight not just the kids, but the young at heart. The Christmas tree is wonderful and not taken down all year round here at the German Christmas Museum (Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum). Everything here is perfect and worth spending time and money. The museum presents the origin of Santa Claus, how the celebration of Christmas has evolved through the years and how it started. The most impressive part is the creativity of making small Christmas artifacts made at different times.
If you plan to buy souvenirs and Christmas ornaments, this is the perfect place to find one. The shop has well crafted Christmas ornaments made of wood, porcelain, glass, metal, silver, and fabric. It is open all year round and whatever month you plan to visit, the Christmas atmosphere never wears out. It is an enchanted world where it is possible to believe that Santa Claus exists and a sleigh filled with gifts and pulled by reindeers can fly.
Medieval Crime Museum (Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum)
The Medieval Crime Museum or the Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum is an informative museum with a superb collection on the history of torture performed during the medieval times. Get ready to walk a lot there, it is quite tiring and you will get to know a little history class about Rothenburg, but these three hours are truly worth it. This place presents the interesting ways, or the grotesque ideas the early settlers have when cracking down on crimes. The museum is interesting and the collection is cool, but the theme is kind of heavy and you need to have guts and courage to read about the sinister penalties and the enforcement of “criminal law" in the Middle Ages. You will see crude implements used for psychological torture and public humiliation.
The museum displays more than a thousand years of history of criminal law until the nineteenth century. All exhibits are discussed and each of them has the torture procedure for serving the sentence given by the courts. There are also exposed items such as; important laws, legal decrees, medals and stamps, documents, graphics and numerous instruments of torture and firing. There are trunks for thieves, masks for gossip mongers, and the famous Iron Maiden for infidel women. The entrance fee is 5.00 Euros. If history is among your interests, do not miss the opportunity to visit it.
The Spital Bastion is one of the most powerful fortifications of Rothenburg. You can climb up to the medieval stone tower that overlooks the city and the view of the surroundings. The Spital Bastion was built in the late sixteenth century and it is designed like an eight with two courtyards, seven gates, a drawbridge and a protected passage from cannons with a controlled access from the south at the end of the Spitalgasse.
The last stone in the outer arc of the door also indicates the year it was established (1586) and the initials of Weidmann. A Latin inscription on the welcome arch reads and can be translated as "Peace to those who enter, prosperity for those coming out". It is well worth the short walk over the Little Square to reach it from the center.
Medieval Double Bridge
The original Medieval Double Bridge was built in 1330 and served to connect commercial activities with Würzburg and Augsburg. It was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt in 1956. Everything in this city and around it breathes history and at the same time monumental and cozy. It is hard to believe that this bridge exists for more than a hundred years; huge credit goes to its people and their tireless effort to preserve this landmark attraction in Rothenburg, which looks reminiscent of the Roman aqueducts. You can access the bridge by walking along a path outside the walls or perhaps by walking around 1000 meters between the vines. From the bridge, the view of the city is wonderful. In summer, the river is limited to a channel that is specially designed for the transit of trouts upstream. After the winter season, the snow melts and it becomes a fast river with stony bottoms. The return can be made along the road by entering the Kobolzeller Gate.
Rothenburg is a remarkable old town with a strong medieval character. It is a city with a series of alleyways, old houses, and restaurants. Along the way you have to repeatedly climb the stone and wooden stairs to finish the tour, but the views are surprising. Even the new structures built in this town are designed in the same style as the ancient houses. The romance that exudes this city, how it is preserved, the feeling you get when you walk around among all the magnificent towers and houses is simply overwhelming. Come winter, the city has many gingerbread houses with traditional nutcracker displays. You can walk endlessly, especially during the Christmas period!
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