Sightseeing in Rothenburg, Germany.

Rothenburg am Tauber

Rothenburg am Tauber is an ancient city in Germany, located in the land of Bavaria. Travelers do not even have to fantasize to feel in medieval times – Rothenburg is almost completely preserved in its original form. Skyscrapers, neon signs, and modern architecture are absent here. Even the telephone booths and phone booths exquisitely complement the local color scheme. The authorities take care to maintain the appearance of the city of the XVII century, and only modern cars remind of the 21st century.

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Video: Rothenburg am Tauber

Highlights

The best time to visit Rothenburg am Tauber is from May to September. Winters are cool and summers are hot, with temperatures above +30 °C.

Rothenburg has a glorious history: it was once the pride of Franconia, was considered the center of trade. Gradually the city has become a corner of coziness. Today Rothenburg has only 12 thousand inhabitants. The area of its territory is small – a little over 40 square kilometers. But it is still noisy, because every year 2 million tourists visit the village. According to statistics, it is the third most visited city in Germany. Guests from Japan and China are primarily interested in Rothenburg am Tauber.

The popularity of Rothenburg contributes to a favorable location. The city is nestled at the intersection of the most popular routes for tourists – the Romantic Road and the Castle Road. The view of Rothenburg is impressive – it feels as if it towers over the Tauber River valley. Not without reason the name of the city is translated as “fortress above the river.

Streets in Rothenburg am Tauber

History of Rothenburg am Tauber

The first houses in this area appeared in 960. Two centuries later a fortress was built, and then the settlement of Rothenburg arose. The geographical location of the city played into the hands of the locals. Rothenburg on the Tauber became a center of trade and rapidly developed and prospered. In the XIII century, the settlement was given the status of a “free imperial town”. It meant that the locals were directly subordinate to the king.

In the XIV century, the fortress was destroyed by an earthquake, but it did not hinder the further development of the city. At the beginning of XV century, the number of inhabitants exceeded the mark of six thousand – it was the “Golden Age” of Rothenburg. The further history of the town is sad. During the Thirty Years’ War settlement was several times under occupation. Prosperity is followed by decline. After that, the city seemed to sink into slumber – did not develop, lost its meaning, but managed to keep the original medieval appearance.

In the 19th century Rothenburg became part of Bavaria. When Germany became united, the settlement attracted the interest of tourists. Rothenburg am Tauber suffered hard times during World War II. About 40% of the buildings were destroyed by bombs. The eastern, new part of the Old Town was affected. Fortunately, the most important landmarks survived, and residents rebuilt downtown Rothenburg. The Americans helped to restore the buildings – commemorative plaques on the walls remind us of that.

The old spirit of Rothenburg

Rothenburg am Tauber is protected from adversity by the city wall. Its length is not insignificant – 3 km. You can walk along the city walls and walk around the whole settlement along the perimeter. The fortress is supplemented with turrets, some of which were built in the XII century.

Guests enter through the gate, which is already considered a landmark in itself. If you move from the railway station, you pass through the gate of XIV century. But they are inferior in beauty to the Castle Gate, also called the Eastern Gate. The path through it leads to the city park, located on a rock. When passing through the gate, it is worth raising your head and looking for the mask with your eyes – tar was poured through it on the attackers of Rothenburg. The castle itself has not survived.

Other structures of the ancient town are timeless. Tourists admire the powerful fortress wall, old cobblestone, narrow streets. The houses correspond – quaint, with neat facades. Almost all of them are half-timbered – the name of the technology that was developed back in the XV century in Germany. The buildings have almost no bearing walls, only a framework of horizontal and vertical elements. The space between the beams is filled with different materials: stone, brick or wood. Since there is no load on the walls, they can be removed and rebuilt as desired. This allows you to organize the space inside the house in a new way.

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The walls of the buildings of Rothenburg am Tauber are snow-white, in ornaments. Balconies and windows are decorated with flowers. You can walk around the city, but do not find a single modern building, but fully enjoy the atmosphere of the Middle Ages and comfort. Because of the “classic” appearance of Rothenburg is often selected as a movie set. Films about Germany and the Middle Ages are usually shot here. Even the last part of Harry Potter was filmed in Rothenburg am Tauber.

The Pride of “Fortress over the River”

Rothenburg am Tauber is a small town. Only ten minutes and tourists find themselves in the center of the market square. Here is the town hall. It has a different color – snow-white part neighbors with brown. One half is a medieval Franconian building, the other half is an old tower. The town hall is 60 meters high. You can climb to the observation deck and admire the view of the tranquil German town. Entrance is paid, but inexpensive. You can safely pass the turnstile, overcome the steps of the narrow and steep staircase. Pay at the top.

On the right near the town hall is a building with an intricate puppet clock. Here it’s worth taking a look at the “master sip.” The clock shows the puppet emptying a large goblet of wine twice a day. It is believed that the original decoration was created in memory of the burgomaster of Rothenburg. At the beginning of the XVII century, during the Thirty Years’ War, the city was captured. Its fate was unpleasant – the enemies were going to completely destroy and burn Rothenburg. The invaders mockingly promised that they would not touch the territory on one condition. The local mayor, Nusch, had to drink a huge 3.5-liter goblet of wine in one gulp. The head of the town did well.

Near the town hall there is an old tavern. It was created in the heyday of Rothenburg, in the XV century. Around the area are various cafes, stores with souvenirs and souvenir stores. All the most important events take place on the Market Square: festivities, theatrical performances, seasonal markets.

Another local pride is the Church of St. James. Since the 14th century, the church has been “guarding” the city. Tourists admire the carved wooden altar. It is believed that the cross holds rock crystal capsules that were used at the Last Supper. A special atmosphere in the church is created by the stained glass windows, turning the interior space into a work of art.

After exploring the main attractions of Rothenburg am Tauber, you can take a break and stroll through the city park. On its territory is a small hill, which offers a panorama of the surrounding area. You can see the houses with red roofs, and the surrounding greenery of trees emphasizes their beauty. The park gate and the old well of St. George have been preserved.

Museums of Rothenburg am Tauber

Rothenburg is not only a “time machine”, it is considered the “city of artists”. It’s easy to make sure of that when you take a walk through the museums. Interesting displays have an exhibition of Christmas and the Criminal Museum of the Middle Ages. It is worth getting to know the local art or learn about the wild mores of medieval society. The museum of the imperial city has a collection of ancient objects: furniture, sculptures and paintings, tools and even toys. The building where the collection is stored is also interesting – it is a nunnery of the XIII century.

There are always a lot of tourists at the Museum of Medieval Forensics in Rothenburg. The collection contains an assortment of different kinds of punishments from the XII-XVIII centuries. Chastity belts, spiked chairs, metal shame masks in the shape of a pig’s snout – the torture and shaming of citizens was done in the most sophisticated ways. Even documents of the process of torturing witches have survived.

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After the horrors of the Museum of Criminalistics one can take a look at the Old Town Chamber of Craftsmen, where a completely different atmosphere prevails. The building has been in operation since the 13th century. At first it was home to various craftsmen: cooperage, basketmakers, soapmakers. A hermit, who did not recognize the benefits of civilization, also called his home. He had neither running water nor electricity. Today, the museum brings together 11 rooms, reproducing the old environment. There is an apprentice’s room, a kitchen with an open window and for water there is a well inside the house.

Eternal Christmas

In Rothenburg am Tauber, Christmas is revered and remembered all year long. Opposite the town hall is the Christmas Museum. At the door are large sleds with gifts. The window is decorated with festive garlands. In the street outside the building, Christmas carols are constantly being sung. The museum combines five houses in the Bavarian style. Inside, there is a festive atmosphere. Santa Clauses and reindeer, Christmas trees and toys – products are made of different materials. In the collection there are old postcards. At the museum operates a toy store, where in the summer you can buy at significant discounts. Near the houses peacefully “observes” a five-meter fir tree.

Among the fabulous places of Rothenburg am Tauber belongs to the Doll’s House Museum. Here you can find a collection of toys created by German and French masters. The city also has a store where Teddy bears are sold. At Christmas in Rothenburg there are holiday markets, the streets are filled with music brass bands, theatrical performances and dances. You can join a tour of the mysterious nooks and crannies of Rothenburg.

A time for fun

The people of Rothenburg an der Tauber dilute their lives with more than just the spirit of Christmas. Every year there are costume festivals. The townspeople try on period costumes and take on roles – merchants, craftsmen, horsemen, and musketeers. Events are dedicated to the Thirty Years War, which greatly changed the fate of the German city. Obligatory figure of the holiday is the mayor, who has to drink wine from a cup and stay on his feet. Even the name of the festivities is appropriate – “Master’s Sip”. After draining the cup, the locals shout the phrase “The city is saved!” and rejoice. Such theatrical celebrations are held several times a year. The festivities are large-scale, covering a variety of venues, but the most significant event in Rothenburg-upon-Tauber takes place on Trinity.

The people of Rothenburg have a long tradition that they hold in high esteem. On Pentecost and Easter you can enjoy the shepherd’s dance. The tradition goes back to the times of the plague. This is how the shepherds tried to drive the disease away from the city. At the end of September there is a colorful city festival. The history of Rothenburg is brought alive with costume performances and processions, and even medieval court proceedings are enacted. When it gets dark, residents and visitors are delighted with volleys of fireworks.

Another tradition is the daily night guard of the fortress. A man dressed in black carries a lamp and a halberd. He first walks around the Old Town, ending at the Market Square. The position of Rothenburg’s guard remains as a reminder of the past – he has no duties other than making his rounds.

Shopping in Rothenburg

There are no skyscrapers or large shopping complexes in this German city, but in many houses are open small souvenir shops, clothing boutiques and jewelry stores. Metal plaques hang on most of the buildings, where brisk trade takes place. In the past, traders in Rothenburg used them to distinguish themselves from the gray masses. It was one of the first forms of advertising. In the passageway below the town hall you can stroll through the flea market and look at antiques.

You can buy a teddy bear as a gift – toys of different sizes are sold in the local store. In the shop of Christmas decorations is also worth buying something to remember, even if it’s summer. In Rothenburg tourists buy copies of medieval armor and weapons – especially men.

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Local delicacies

A delicacy of Rothenburg am Tauber is the “snowball” – “sneebal”. It’s a snowball cake made from sand dough according to an ancient recipe. It is sold everywhere: in cafes, bakeries, stores and even in souvenir shops. Even a demanding tourist will be pleased, because cookies are made in different variations – with powder, icing, chocolate and cinnamon. It is worth to try different sorts of bread and the local wine, which is poured into specially shaped bottles.

Special offers on hotels

How to get there

Traditionally, tourists include a visit to Rothenburg am Tauber in the program of their trip to Bavaria or Germany in general. It is not possible to fly into this city directly from Russia, because Rothenburg has no airport of its own. But there are more than a dozen flights a day to Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, and Nuremberg from Moscow and St. Petersburg. The main carriers are Aeroflot and S7, as well as their foreign partners. The flight takes about 3 hours, and then you can easily get to Rothenburg by car or train from each of the four neighboring cities.

By car be prepared to cover the following distances: from Stuttgart – 165 km, from Frankfurt – 185 km, from Munich – 245 km, if you count from the airports. The trip along the German autobahns will take not more than 2-2,5 hours; keep to the A7. After the “Rothenburg/Tauber” exit it is 2 km to the Old Town. A more attractive option seems to be a trip from Nuremberg, only 80 km, but it is worth remembering that you can fly to this city from Russia only with a connection.

Car can leave near the walls of the old city – there are five parking lots. Two of them are free – P5 and partly P4. They are located in the north-east of the city. The center of Rothenburg can’t be reached by car on weekends – only locals have access. On weekdays, access is closed from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. For residents, entry is free.

You can get to Rothenburg am Tauber by train using the RB regional train network. From central stations in Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt there are trains to Rothenburg every 30-40 minutes. From Nuremberg trains go a little less frequently, about once an hour. Travel time varies depending on the type of train, so it takes about 2.5-3.5 hours to get from any of the listed cities. You can get to the cozy German city through Würzburg. By train – about an hour of travel. Rothenburg is also organized sightseeing bus tours from Prague or Munich with Russian-speaking guides.

The area of the city is small, so there is no need for public transport. You can walk or rent a bike in one of the hotels. For a complete immersion in the old atmosphere tourists are offered a ride on a horse-drawn cart.

On site visitors are ready to provide information – it is available in the tourist center, located on the main street of Rothenburg. Travelers are offered booklets in Russian – with data about the city and a map, a list of hotels. In the bureau you can also learn about the nearest city holidays.

Rothenburg am Tauber

Rothenburg am Tauber, Germany: the most detailed and complete city guide, the main sights of Rothenburg with photos and descriptions, location on the map.

City of Rothenburg am Tauber (Germany).

Rothenburg am Tauber is a city in Germany, located in the historical region of Middle Franconia in Bavaria. It will impress you with its medieval charm: old winding cobbled streets, medieval architecture and a wonderful historical atmosphere. Rothenburg on the river Tauber is rightly considered one of the most authentic and photogenic old towns in Bavaria.

Rothenburg am Tauber is located on the “Romantic Road” – the famous Bavarian tourist route (as we have the “Golden Ring”), which includes old towns and medieval castles, about 60 km from Nuremberg. The main attraction is the old town (Altstadt), which is surrounded by an almost intact city wall of the 14th century. Which is a unique historical heritage for modern Germany.

Geography and climate

Rothenburg is situated west of Nuremberg on the banks of the river Tauber at the edge of the Frankenhee nature park. The surrounding countryside consists of picturesque hills and foothills covered with forests and vineyards, which touch the southwestern spurs of the Alps.

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The climate is temperate, with warm summers and mild winters. The average summer temperature is 15-20 degrees. In winter, the temperature is around zero degrees. The coldest month is January, with an average temperature of -1 degree. About 700 mm of precipitation falls during the year.

Evening in Rothenburg

Evening in Rothenburg

History

The origins of Rothenburg am Tauber date back to 970, when a family of East Frankish nobles built the first church in the Tauber River valley. A castle was built here at the end of the 11th century and a monastery at the beginning of the 12th century.

In 1142, these lands were acquired by King Conrad III, who decides to build a castle over the Tauber River spurs, which is later called the Imperial Castle. In 1274 Rothenburg receives the privileges of the imperial city. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the city experienced its greatest heyday. At that time, Rothenburg had about 6,000 inhabitants, which exceeded the population of Munich and Frankfurt am Main at the time.

Panorama of Rothenburg an der Tauber

Panorama of Rothenburg am Tauber

Rothenburg am Tauber remained an imperial city until the 18th century. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the city’s development was undermined by plague epidemics and the Thirty Years’ War. Rothenburg was taken and sacked several times. In the early 19th century, it lost its status as an imperial city and was incorporated into the Kingdom of Bavaria.

During World War II, the city was badly damaged by air raids. It was destroyed 45% of the old city.

In the streets of old Rothenburg

The streets of Rothenburg

How to get there?

Rothenburg am Tauber is characterized by good transport accessibility. Nearby are the international airports of Nuremberg and Munich. There are good train connections to other major cities in the region and the rest of Germany. Rothenburg railway station is located 15 minutes walk from the historic center. Nearby is the motorway A7 (exit 108). An important nuance – when buying tickets be careful, because there are several cities in Germany with the same name. You need to buy tickets in Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Rothenburg ob der Tauber).

Streets of Rothenburg

Streets of Rothenburg

Best time to visit

Like most cities in Bavaria, Rothenburg am Tauber can be visited almost all year round. But still the best time to visit can be considered the period from April to September. We highly recommend visiting this town during the Christmas holidays. At this time, the atmosphere here is just fabulous!

Rothenburg am Tauber during Christmas

Rothenburg am Tauber at Christmas

Gastronomy

In the old town of Rothenburg you can find many cozy places with Bavarian and European cuisine. Of the drinks, beer is the most popular. When planning trips to cafes and restaurants, it is important to know that the mode of operation of the institutions of Rothenburg depends on tourist tours. In many of them the kitchen is not open after 20.00 (especially low season).

Panorama of Rothenburg an der Tauber

Panorama of Rothenburg

Sightseeing in Rothenburg am Tauber

The main attractions of Rothenburg am Tauber are located in its old town among the old cobblestone streets and medieval houses. It is worth noting that the Altstadt is very compact. The way from one side to the other on foot will take 20-30 minutes.

Gothenburg am Tauber sights on the map

Attractions in Rothenburg am Tauber on the map

One of the symbols of Rothenburg am Tauber is the medieval city wall from the 14th century, which encircles the old town and gives it the shape of a human head. Even though 40% of the wall was damaged during World War II, it is still impressive and a unique historical legacy. There are almost no cities in Germany that have fully preserved the medieval wall. The total length of the wall is about 2.5 km and its height is up to 9 meters. The wall contains towers and several city gates – entrances to the city.

Medieval city wall Rothenburg am Tauber

Medieval city wall of Rothenburg am Tauber

Towers and gates

The old city wall has preserved many original defensive elements – towers and gates. In the Middle Ages there were 7 city gates leading to Rothenburg, and the wall was defended by 42 towers. We present the most interesting ones that have survived.

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Castle Gate

Castle Gate

Castle Gate (Burgtor) – one of the main city gates with a high powerful tower, which protected the city from the west. Today it is the entrance to the castle garden – an interesting green corner in the medieval city. When Rothenburg was an imperial city, the gates were closed at night. To leave the city you had to get the approval of the city council.

Galgentor – German for “gate to the gallows”.

Galgentor is a 16th-century gate leading to the square where the gallows used to be until the 19th century. It was taken in the Thirty Years’ War.

Klingentor

Klingentor in Rothenburg

Klingentor is a gate with a high thirty-meter Gothic tower from the 16th century. Interestingly, the tower was accessed through the building of the nearby old church of St. Wolfgang.

St. Mark's Gate

St. Mark’s Gate

St. Mark’s Gate and Tower is one of the most atmospheric and photogenic corners of Rothenburg with beautiful medieval architecture. It is also one of the oldest of the towers and gates, dating back to the 12th century.

Roeder Tower

Röder Gate

The Röder Gate is the old city gate in Rothenburg am Tauber. The oldest part is the 14th century tower with half-timbered elements.

Plönlein - the most famous view of Rothenburg am Tauber

Plönlein – the most famous view of Rothenburg am Tauber

The “Plönlein” is a real symbol of Rothenburg am Tauber and the most photographed place in the city: Ancient small square surrounded by medieval half-timbered houses, a small fountain, which ends in an old gate of the 14th century with a strong tower.

Market Square

The market square has been the center of town life since the Middle Ages. The west side of the square has the town hall, the north side the historical buildings and the tourist center, the east side the stores and restaurants and the south side the St. George fountain.

Rothenburger Town Hall

Town Hall in Rothenburg am Tauber

The main architectural dominant feature of the market square is the town hall with its magnificent Renaissance facade. It is one of the most beautiful buildings of its type north of the Alps. The Gothic building from the 13th century was extensively rebuilt by architect Weidmann in the 16th century.

Next to the town hall is the beautiful early 19th century pharmacy building with its magnificent half-timbered façade.

On the north of the market square look out for the 16th century Ratstrinkstube, an old building with an astronomical clock.

Old Hospital

The Old Hospital

The Old Hospital is another brainchild of Weidmann, a historic 16th century Gothic building with a beautiful round tower. A little ahead is the Spitaltor Bastion, which was also built by this architect.

Sacred architecture of Rothenburg am Tauber

The Church of St. Jacob is the main religious building of Rothenburg. The church was built in the Gothic style in the 15th century and contains valuable works of art. It is located near the Market Square.

St. Jacob's Church

Church of St. Jacob

It is also one of the oldest basilicas in Rothenburg, consecrated in the early 14th century – the Franciscan Church of St. Mary.

Of other religious buildings, the Church of St. Wolfgang, next door to the Klingentor, is a must-see. It is a unique late Gothic church from the 15th century, integrated into the city fortifications. Not far from the old hospital there is a 14th century Gothic church – Heiliggeistkirche.

Museums

The most interesting museums of Rothenburg am Tauber

  • Museum of Medieval Crime. Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (November-March from 1 to 4 p.m.). Address – Burggasse 3, 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  • German Christmas Museum. Open from 10.00 to 17.00. Address – Herrengasse 1.
  • Museum of the Imperial City of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Open from 9.30 to 17.30 (November-March from 13.00 to 16.00). Address – Klosterhof, 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Interesting tours

Nuremberg through the ages

€95 per excursion

Nuremberg through the ages

Hear the history of the most interesting places in the Old Town and get valuable advice from locals.

On both sides of the barricades: a walking tour of Berlin

€110 per excursion

On both sides of the barricades: a walking tour of Berlin

3 hours to immerse yourself in the history of the capital and see its key sights

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