Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Medieval. Picturesque. On the Romantic Road. Germany. Seriously, what’s not to love?
It’s been a few years since I’ve visited, but I am keen to go back as there are so many things to recommend it. Rothenburg was everything I imagined a quintessential German town should be. From the Sedona-red half timbered roof lines, to the fairytale skyline with its two cathedral spires, it was another one of those locations that struck me as from being straight out of a storybook. If it hadn’t been for my friend Canci’s recommendation, I wouldn’t have known about it, but I am so glad I went!
I only spent two days (one night) in Rothenburg, which seems to be a good length of time especially if you’re spending time seeing other parts of Germany. Based on some of the advice I have read, not many people spend the night but instead treat it as a day trip. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about me personally, I prefer to spend more time rather than less in a place and try to see it from both sunrise and sunset, when the crowds tend to dissipate. I highly recommend this approach for any touristy town considered a “day trip”. You’ll get a much better feel for it, and be much less rushed.
Because food is part of the point, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the more notable things to eat in Rothenburg (and Germany on the whole). First, you must try (because everyone does) a Schneeball (Schneeballen). Because I cannot explain it any better than Wikipedia, a Schneeball, or “snowball in English, [is] a pastry made from shortcrust…and is especially popular in the area of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Its name derives from its round, ball-like shape…and its traditional decoration with white confectioner’s sugar. It is also called a Storchennest (stork’s nest).” It kind of reminded me of hardened funnel cake, so it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but I didn’t have one fresh from the frier so perhaps that might have made the difference? Much more impressive were the pretzels. be warned, German pretzels are not like American soft pretzels (shocking, I know) and the dough has a much more distinct and yeasty flavor, but totally worth a try. And of course I don’t think I’ve ever met a bad Apple Strudel. And Germany requires you to order it. More than once.
To burn off all those calories, Rothenburg ob der Tauber has a wall that runs 1.5 miles around the oldest part of the city. This wall was delightfully empty first thing in the morning when the sun was just rising and bathing the whole city in golden light and so many of my photos below feature my morning walk above the rooflines. I highly recommend rising with the sun in order to explore this part of the city, ahead of the crowds. This is another benefit to staying the night!
Some of the most popular “postcard perfect” scenes in the city are such for a reason and I have (of course!) photographed them below. These include Plönlein (“Little Square”), the Burg Gate and Garden and the above mentioned Medieval Wall. I’ve also heard tell of the Night Watchman’s Tour, which I did not take but seems like a good bet if you’re into guided walking tours. St. Jakob’s Church is a cathedral worth visiting as well, though I only took ONE photo inside (I simply cannot believe that happened), but it was gorgeous. I was particularly enchanted by the decorative and ornate signs that hung from every shop throughout the town and found capturing them as silhouettes at sunset to be a unique perspective.
Outside the city’s footprint, through the Burg Gate, you can also get a sweeping view of the German countryside and look back onto the compact town. You’ll see a sign pointing towards the town of Detwang. If you’re feeling adventurous and up for a walk, apparently there is a 10th century church in Detwang and it’s all easily accessible from Rothenburg by foot. This is an insider tip I wish I had known about and would absolutely be sure to do upon my return!
For more info on Rothenburg, I enjoyed Rick Steve’s guide. Check out the link here.