BETWEEN MEDIEVAL WALLS AND BUILDINGS
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is simply romantic. No other city in Germany combines old stone and its alive history. Here, the stones speak. They tell stories of kings, emperors, patricians, proud and free citizens, secrets and fascination of the Middle Ages. Its openness to the world, idyllic scenery and the many testimonies of a 1000 year old history give the city a unique originality to the world and make Rothenburg an international leading attractions. The walls of the city bristling with its 42 towers are still usable today. Away from the high fortifications, you can enjoy a stopover dream amidst a hectic day. The St Jacques church, of great appeal, can boast of possessing the beautiful altar by Tilman Riemenschneider of first importance on artistic and historical fields. Already in the Middle Ages, thousands of pilgrims chose to visit the magnificent Gothic church that hosts a relic, a few drops of blood of the Christ, who promised divine blessing. Nowadays, no tourists stay indifferent to the magic of Rothenburg.
You will find below a summary of the few places that I visited during this half-day tour, all with a few pictures. It should be noted that some places, including museums and churches, prohibit taking pictures or videos and I respect this principle, as long as it is clearly stated.
Rothenburg City Hall and Market Square
The center of Rothenburg is dominated by the magnificent City Hall opened in 1578 with the addition of arcades in 1681. On the front, we can distinguish the arms of the Princes voters who elected the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The old Gothic Town Hall, which dates from the late 13th century is connected to the Renaissance building by a courtyard, the Lichthof. The Belfry has the distinction of being built above the pediment and does not have its own foundations. From the square with its market on Wednesday and Saturday, you can also see Ratstrinkstube and St. George Fontaine, the best known of many Renaissance fountains Rothenburg. The latter has a depth of 8 meters and a capacity of 100,000 liters, dates from 1608 and served not only water supply but also as a reservoir in case of fire. In all seasons, it is recommended to visit the museum Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas and the Museum of toys and dolls.
The wall of Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Few cities in Europe have such ramparts, towers and also well preserved and usable gates. During the development of the city and its economic ascent between the 12th and the beginning of the 16th century, the wall was repeatedly pushed further and still better fortified with new towers and gates. One can easily distinguish these different extensions on the city map. The chance of Rothenburg was that it didn’t developed anymore in the 16th century because of its rapid decline. With the exception of the wall overlooking the protected part of the Tauber Valley town, you can take the walkway over several kilometers, from the “Spitalbastei” gate to St. Wolfgang Church. To avoid walling for too long, it is suggested to get down from the ramparts once you reach the magnificent “Rödertor” Rödergasse down the door in the direction of the City Hall to enjoy another famous view of Rothenburg, the door of the first wall, the Rödertor with Markusturm.
Plönlein (Kobolzeller and Siebersturm Gates)
On Plönlein (“Little Place”) lies one of the most picturesque medieval views throughout Germany. To reach Plönlein, take Schmiedgasse from the Market Square in the direction of the former hospital district. With Sieber Tower in front of you and Kobolzeller door at the bottom of the street leading to the Tauber Valley and Double Bridge, along the beautiful Renaissance buildings timbered, we understand why Rothenburg is considered as one of the best preserved medieval town of Germany. Continue your walk through Siebenturm in the neighborhood of the old hospital, the Kappenzipfel built outside the ancient city walls and integrate to the city in the late 15th century. After Spitalgasse, you reach the door of the hospital where you can start the exploration of the wall of the city enclosure (Possible until Wolfgangskirche).
Saint-Jacques Church – St. Jakobs-Kirche
Protestant city since the Reformation in 1544, Rothenburg main church is Saint-Jacques. Built since 1311, the church was consecrated only in 1485. An architectural originality is its construction of a street, so it takes a tunnel to get to the Klingengasse (near Reichsstadtmuseum). Inside the church await several medieval jewels art as altarpiece whose so-called “Holy Blood” by the famous German master Tilman Riemenschneider for a relic arrived in Rothenburg after the crusade, a drop of blood of the Christ. This relic attracted many pilgrims in the Middle Ages. Found in other church altarpieces such as Louis of Toulouse (Riemenschneider) and the Twelve Apostles of Friedrich Herlin.
Gardens and the Castle Gate – Burggarten & Burgtor
It is here that began the history of Rothenburg. Indeed, “on the Tauber – Ob der Tauber” an imperial castle was built in 1142 by King Conrad III before being quickly abandoned in favor of the development of the city. His story ends with the earthquake of 1356 when it get destroyed. It remains today the Chapelle Saint Blaise, a reception room of the king and not a church in the imperial period. The garden wasn’t there at the time of the Castle but it gives the opposite impression. The place is dominated by the magnificent castle door with his little opening (pinhole) that allowed only one person to pass, securing the castle. Do not miss in any case the most beautiful panoramic views of the city of Rothenburg. In the valley, we can distinguish an elevated house, it is the small castle Toppeler. A walk in the valley is worth it if you got time.
Klingentor and Saint Wolfgang Church (Church of the Shepherds)
Built between 1475 and 1493 by a brotherhood of shepherds outside the city, the Church of St. Wolfgang or Church of the Shepherds has the specific aspect of being fortified, that is to say, it has a walkway under the roof and underground bunkers. House keeper houses the Office of the Dance of the Shepherds. Klingen door includes a tower that served as a water tower. From this door, you can take the road for several miles round the ramparts of the city. The part of the wall overlooking the Tauber Valley is not practicable because never it was not necessary to fortiy this sloping side of the city
Real medieval open-air museum. That is what sums up the city of Rothenburg! With its endless walls, typical houses, shops and restaurants, gardens and museums, there is plenty of things to occupy tourists visiting for a few days easily. Everything is well laid out and developed, especially during the Christmas markets. But be careful, because the place is very well known and highly crowded during the summer and the holiday season.