When you find a medieval building that turns out to be the perfect photo object, and hundreds more at every corner, you are most likely in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a stunningly beautiful spot. If you are not there yet, you should go.
Berlin, October 15th, 2020. Update: May 2nd, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Looking for a medieval atmosphere and a lot of beauty? In Rothenburg ob der Tauber you won’t have to go far. In fact, you will find both all over the place. Located in Ansbach country, on the Bavarian side of the border to Baden-Württemberg, this place is exceptional.
Recreated in London
It is not a coincidence that Rothenburg ob der Tauber served as a model for inspiring architecture a hundred years ago. For instance, the architects who designed London’s Hampstead Garden Suburb recreated some of the elements they found in Rothenburg, including shapes of roofs, stairwells, parts of the city wall and arcades.
The Rothenburg Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber recently dedicated an exhibition to this phenomenon. The museum offers a lot.
Modern Age Delayed
For hundreds of years, namely from 1274 to 1803, Rothenburg was a free imperial city. Later, the modern age was delayed in this beautiful town. There was no train connection until 1881 and the industrialization was basically skipped. From today’s perspective, this is a big advantage because nobody messed with the medieval buildings Rothenburg is known for.
Before World War II, Rothenburg was already a tourist magnet. During its last years, the town was hit. But the damage could be repaired in an unobtrusive way, meaning the medieval style was kept. In the old town, is a mission impossible to identify the buildings that were repaired or built after 1945.
History and Beauty
Most German cities and towns had gaps that were filled with mostly ugly 1950s or 1960s buildings. Rothenburg did not. Just delete the word ‘ugly’ from your dictionaries. You will not need it in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. People down here do not even know what it means. Why would they?
Usually, towns of this size do not have a million restaurants. They do not have countless tourist guides or huge parking lots outside their walled town centers. And they do not have dozens of souvenir shops and hotels. But Rothenburg, a town of 11,000 inhabitants, does. This spot is different because of its history and beauty.
Nice Grassy Landscape
The beauty should be witnessed from the outside as well. Walking down to Tauber Bridge at 100 degrees Fahrenheit will seem like a good idea at first. From here, the town can be photographed along with its wall. Had there been digital cameras in the year 1300, the pics from back then would probably not have looked very different. The Tauber is a small river the water of which looks very clean. It flows through a nice grassy landscape.
Returning to the old town, by climbing the hill it was built on in the heat made this little deviation feel like a rather bad idea, for the duration of the climb. Anyone will be sweating like hell after this endeavor, but the next refreshment is already waiting at one of the cafés at the breathtaking Market Square.
Spätzle and Wasps
Yes, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a ‘tourist trap’ in the sense that the entire town builds on the business it has with visitors from both Germany and the entire world. The Americans, Chinese, Japanese and Koreans cannot get enough of this place. Rothenburg’s orientation towards tourists is obvious. This applies in regard to restaurant prices too. Why wouldn’t the most beautiful town in Germany be touristy?
Rothenburg in the heat, Rothenburg in fall colors, Rothenburg in the snow: This spot is always too attractive to be real. The ‘Reiterlesmarkt‘ is the local version of the traditional German Christmas market and should not be missed. But sitting outside with an oversized plate of ‘Käsespätzle’ and fighting off wasp attacks in summer is priceless too.
Harry Potter in Rothenburg
Bavaria’s medieval marvel has seven museums, a million towers and picturesque buildings, six churches, interesting city wall gates and several big annual events.
Many movies have been shot in and above Rothenburg ob der Tauber, including parts of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1’. The aerial footage they recorded for this flick was not used though. But a scene shot in town was indeed added, which is why Rothenburg is being mentioned in the closing credits nobody reads.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber as a whole is an art object and the definition of a sightseeing spot. Sure, there are quite a few beautiful cities and towns in Germany, including Schwäbisch Hall, Heidelberg, Bamberg and many others. But even in this list, Rothenburg sticks out.
Whew. This is the first feature in months that does not contain the word Corona. Ooops. Now it does.