Rothenburg: I Fell in Love

Note: New Photos Included! Reliable Internet Access Acquired.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (over the Tauber [river]). What words can I use? I had thought that Würzburg was my favorite small town in Germany, but as quickly as I came to favor Würzburg, I have chosen a new favorite. I had done my research, as usual, so I already knew that Rothenburg boasted the oldest continually standing city walls in Europe, but I didn’t know much else about it.

It is a village deposited on the German countryside directly from a fairy tale. Many of its central buildings were built in the 16th and 17th century, but the fact that it was founded some 1,000 years ago and is still only host to around 10,000 inhabitants (many of whom live outside the city’s walls) lends a strong impression as one wanders through the town. Probably because it’s smaller than the other towns I’ve visited in Germany (even smaller than Füssen at the edge of the Alps), not quite so many tourists fit within its walls at any given time than in the other cities. Of course, they all tend to congregate on the city’s main road, so while I used it once or twice to make a bee-line through to its other side, I found a more appealing way of circumnavigating the town: the walls.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Germany

It is possible in Rothenburg to climb some stairs and walk along an entire side of the city on an elevated defensive wall. This option provides the dual benefit of giving one a sense of being removed from the (other) annoying tourists while also offering spectacular views of the buildings and layout of the town.

Rothenburg from lookout tower

Rothenburg from lookout tower

Situated above the central city gates, there’s one main tower that visitors can climb (the stairs are steep and the climb is long!) to get a panoramic view of Rothenburg and the surrounding countryside. Immaculate.

Rothenburg reminds me of Česky Krumlov in Bohemia (in the Czech Republic). That, too, is a town forgotten by history and left largely alone for 500 or more years. Unlike Rothenburg, Česky Krumlov wasn’t bombed during the war (some 40% of this town was partially or completely destroyed during the Allied battle against German morale – there were no military or industrial targets in the area). Still, what was lost has largely been rebuilt in the old style, and one wouldn’t know that the town was damaged from its present, fantastical appearance.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Germany

Aside from my two- or three-hour stints wandering the walled portion of Rothenburg, I spent many hours walking through its surrounding forests and hills, and my-bed and-breakfast lodgings were nestled into a less-traveled part of the region. A backyard, babbling stream provided the acoustic ambiance for one of the most pleasant stays I’ve had anywhere on any journey. The farmhouse, built in 1921 but recently modernized, was comfortable and quiet – my two qualifications for a successful, if temporary, residence. I surely will look back on my four nights in Rothenburg with great fondness, and I hope to return soon!

Accommodations in Rotheburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Germany

Accommodations in Rotheburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Germany

About Steve Capone

Writer hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah. Interdisciplinary teacher (read: generalist guiding inquiry) at an independent school. Adjunct instructor at a medium sized state school. Lover of learning. Favorite destination: Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany. @CaponeTeaches on Twitter M.S. Philosophy (Univ. of Utah 2013) M.A. Humanities (Univ. of Chicago 2007) B.A. Philosophy & English (Washington & Jefferson College 2006
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3 Responses to Rothenburg: I Fell in Love

  1. Ron says:

    I find myself loving you for the good person I know you are Steve but hating you just a bit for the adventure you are having.

    • Nicolle Novak says:

      Oh you don’t have to lie Ron. Just tell Steve how much you really hate him for the adventure he is having! 🙂 It’s got to be more than just a bit…

  2. Nicolle Novak says:

    The one picture you posted immediately reminded me of Cesky Krumlov! (It does look like there is a larger/closer countryside within view here. Is there a main castle?) Since Cesky Krumlov is one of my favorite cities, I think I’d like it here in Rothenburg 🙂 Many many years from now when I return to Germany, we will have to spend some time here.
    I think roaming the city along the city walls would be a great way to check it out. The views must be better from up there and as a major added plus, you’re away from the people! I had no idea so much of the city had been destroyed by the war. Isn’t it incredible to see how they are able to recreate the original structure and feeling of a building that was standing for hundreds of years and then destroyed by war? I was amazed when I saw Dresden given the destruction it faced during the war. With them having the oldest continually standing walls in Europe, does that mean they weren’t destroyed at all by any bombings? Pretty miraculous if so given that 40% of the city was destroyed.
    How were the tourist amenities? Any museums, markets, cafes, or parks to spend time in? Did most people there only speak German, or some English as well?
    I LOVE seeing these red roof cities! I used to think that was only in Prague, but as we get out and see more of the world, I’m realizing that it’s not true.
    Seems like just the right size for my kind of city! Can’t wait to see it one day 🙂
    Have fun

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