Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany: The Medieval Town

View from the Belltower

Trip Taken: 2005

Rothenburg ob der Tauber was one of the towns that was very high on the list of places I wanted to visit while I was still in Germany. Rothenburg is one of those towns in the middle of the Bavarian tourist trap known as the Romantic Road. It is one of the best preserved towns in Europe because it was never bombed during World War 2. Supposedly, an American military officer petitioned to know blow up the little town, at least, according to the the story by a tour guide. Kitsch is one word that could be used to describe this town, but I still asked several of my intern friends to join me and eventually we had a huge group caravaning to Rothenburg.

Medieval Crime Museum

I've been bad.


A strange little museum that is pretty cheap to visit is the medieval criminal museum. It is the first time I have ever seen an Iron Maiden in person. There were plenty of implements of torture on display in the museum. In fact, I think they should just change the name to the Museum of Torture. There was a quartering rack and different prods showcased. It is a little disconcerting for me because I get really grossed out by torture. It makes my skin crawl. It’s probably why I can’t watch the Saw movies. Before we left the museum, my sister and I took a picture at the stockades. Those were torturous as well since it hurt just to pose in those holes.

City Walls

I'm on a wall


One of the greatest things about the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the well-preserved city walls. It is open for the public to walk on and it circles the entire little town. By the time I got to the walls, there wasn’t enough time to do an actual circle around the town. We had to meet everyone for the tour we were going to go on. But the little section we did do was very cool. Different parts of the wall gave different views. Some gave views into the town and some gave views to the surrounding nature.

Christmas Market and the Cathedral

Christmas decorations galore!


In the very center of town, like every German town, is the main cathedral for the town. It was a fairly pretty cathedral. Not the most impressive German cathedral, but not because it’s not beautiful. The standard for cathedrals is so high in Europe that good is just not good enough. Although, I will say that the views of the city from the top of the tower is well worth the price of admission.

Now to the main event. If there is one thing Rothenburg is famous for, then it is the Christmas market. If anybody loves Christmas as a holiday, this store would be a pilgrimage. It’s an entire building with two stories of just Christmas stuff. Decorations, trees, bears, and what have you all related to Christmas. There were dozens of different types of trees decorated within the store. Rows and rows of baubles to buy if you were so inclined. Even though it was fairly mild summer day, I could feel the spirit just walking through this store.

At night, I had dinner with my sister at a very dimly-lit restaurant that consisted of schnitzel and chutney. It was very yummy and the decor seemed like it came from an inn straight out of the dark ages. Some of the night time activities that the group partook in were drinking and running through the city walls. It was definitely a fun trip.

Parting Words

One of the coolest things about Rothenburg is the night time tour of the town. The tour guide dresses up like a medieval watch guard and guides the group by lantern. Also, there’s another Rothenburg that’s close to the check border. I’m not sure how fabulous that place is but make sure you go to the right one.

Picture Gallery

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.