May 18


Rothenburg – Fairy Tales from the Middle Ages (Romantic Road)

By Frank

May 18, 2020

11,000 inhabitants live in the small town, 2,500 of them in the old town . Around 340,000 guests (more than 3000 guest beds) stay overnight every year, not counting the 1.7 million day visitors . The few locals who are out and about in the old town on a working day can be recognized by their twice as high speed. ..

The world is our guest... - every day!

The origins of the city date back to the 12th century and accordingly you can still find gates, towers and a mighty city wall today. The approx. 4 km long wall ring from the 14th century with its 43 gate and wall towers is still completely intact and can be walked on almost all around. The only tower that can be climbed is the Röderturm and offers a magnificent view over the old town after 132 steps .

Aha! Cool ...

Ironically, on Good Friday 1945, 40% of the city was destroyed by Allied firebombing . For decades the buildings have been rebuilt - slightly better than the original . Rothenburg looks like a set rebuilt for a movie.

Another artillery attack should finish the city off. But John Jay McCloy, then Assistant Secretary of State at the US War Department, pleaded for clemency . His mother had visited the city twice before the war and raved about the city's beauty . A tourist basically saved Rothenburg. And tourists later helped rebuild the city.

Rothenburg – Fairy Tales from the Middle Ages (Romantic Road)

Gift stones on the city wall

Their names are immortalized on donation stones in the city wall , on which New York, Osaka, Milwaukee, Castrop-Rauxel, ... is written. The donation stones are anchored in the eastern part of the city wall. If you want, you can have yourself immortalized there for a reasonable donation to preserve the city wall. In 2010, the city was designated a " Place of Diversity " by the federal government, and the population now comes from 70 nations - including Japan.

The streets (all within the city walls are called " gasses " by the way) have remained as narrow as they used to be - the feeling of the Middle Ages should not be lost. As you can only pass through the city walls through the city gates , there is a given height limit - inside the city walls it is best to walk anyway due to the winding streets and traditional cobblestone streets.


"Master drink" about life and death ...

The heyday came to an abrupt end with the Thirty Years' War 1618-1648. During the war, Rothenburg suffered greatly from billeting; the urban area was a transit area for plundering troops on several occasions. In October 1631 the town was taken by force by Imperial troops under General Johann T'Serclaes von Tilly.

The legend goes as follows: In 1631, the Imperial General Tilly stood in front of the city for two days with 60,000 men. Rothenburg was Protestant, Tilly fought for the Catholic Union. When the powder store in one of the city wall towers exploded on October 30, the city's fortifications collapsed. Tilly had Rothenburg stormed.

He sentenced all city councilors and the mayor to death. But suddenly - when he was handed a welcome drink - he stopped and changed his mind. Surprisingly, Tilly offered the Rothenburgers a bet for their lives . You should drink to that.

The mug that ultimately saved Rothenburg from worse evil is said to have contained three and a quarter liters (13 Franconian pfennigs). All city councilors were allowed to live, the city was largely spared. And all that only because the mayor at the time, Georg Nusch, was able to drink the whole jug in one gulp . A master drink . It has not yet been proven whether it actually took place or not.

Up to 25,000 people come to Rothenburg today on the well-attended Pentecost days . In addition to the theatrical performance, there are historical parades and camps that give an insight into the Thirty Years' War . The event has been part of Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2016.

What's exciting to see?

St. Jakobs Church (Riemenschneider Altar)

In the very south of the old town is the Spitaltorbastei , the youngest part of the city fortifications - completed in 1537. The inscription on the archway reads " Pax intrantibus -salus exeuntibus " - which means something like " Peace to those who enter and salvation to those who leave ". The Japanese airport Haneda in Tokyo has adopted this motto for its mission statement .

The Jakobskirche, an eye-catcher in the center of the old town, was completed in 1485 after 173 years of construction . Originally Catholic, it later became Protestant and is still Rothenburg's main church today. There are TWO altars in the Jakobskirche. Many visitors head straight for Friedrich Herlin's altar of the Twelve Messengers .

Rothenburg – Fairy Tales from the Middle Ages (Romantic Road)

Famous Riemenschneider Altar

The oldest depiction of Rothenburg's market square is on the main altar in the east choir of St. Jakob . The second altar in the west wing of the church is also a gem. The skill of the Würzburg artist Tilman Riemenschneider is evident in the altar of the Holy Blood. Special highlights are the organ concerts that take place here throughout the year.

There is a model of Rothenburg directly in front of the Jakobskirche, so that blind people can also feel the city . Here you can see how the small town grew in the Middle Ages, a second ring of walls became necessary . In the 14th century, it was mainly the city's Jews who paid a special tax , which was actually protection money, so that they could live undisturbed in Rothenburg . But they could not buy their peace with it, the Jewish history in Rothenburg is always a history of expulsion .

Crime Museum

Creepy, scary or simply: highly informative. This is how the Medieval Crime Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber can be described. Also not to be missed: the collection of shame masks as well as the original frames, thumbscrews and other torture devices in the museum's basement - really creepy . The cage of the legendary baker's baptism sits enthroned behind the entrance gates - if a baker ever cheated with the ingredients , he went under water .

Rothenburg – Fairy Tales from the Middle Ages (Romantic Road)

"The Baker's Cage"

The Medieval Crime Museum today includes around 50,000 exhibits from over 1,000 years of German and European legal history and is one of the most important and popular legal museums in Germany and Europe. The collection goes back to a small private collection of the publisher and archivist Rudolf Hermann Albrecht at the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. This was housed as the so-called " Rothenburg torture chamber " in the tower of the Burghotel in Klostergasse and was based on the world-famous Nuremberg torture chamber exhibition by GF Geuder.

Red peas

91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber

About the author

It is more valuable to experience a place in detail than many small impressions of an incomprehensible whole.

Genius Loci - discovering, capturing and experiencing the spirit of a place. Perceive - understand - enjoy!

As a graduate industrial engineer with an additional MBA degree from a renowned university in England (EMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accredited), I have been showing other, often surprising, paths to success for more than 30 years at C-Level (Head of Marketing and Sales worldwide).

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