Last night Jordan and I started to idly chat about where we might like to take our friends and family when they visit later this year and next. At the risk of ruining the surprise for all our potential house guests (sorry, I’m not sorry), one of the places that we absolutely plan to take everyone is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. If you need convincing that this little medieval city is worth the trek then stay tuned as I try earnestly to persuade everyone.
These were the sights that greeted us upon arriving at Rothenburg. The city dates back until around 950, and was officially founded in 1170, so we’re talking about a very old part of the world. Not to veer too far into history nerdom, but the city became a Free Imperial City in the 1200s, which meant this place was happening.
We were there in early March, and despite the lingering cold from winter, the town was buzzing and signs of spring were starting to pop up. I desperately want to go back in late spring, when everything is in full bloom, and then during the Christmas market season because something tells me Rothenburg knows how to do a proper Christmas market….
Gives new life to the term sausage-fest, no?
In case you’re still not sold, a veritable host of filmmakers have found the city so beautiful and picturesque that it has been used for scenes in Pinnocchio, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Wonderful World of the Brother’s Grimm, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1.
In another bout of history nerdom, Rothenburg was declared the ‘most ideal German city’ by the Nazis in the years leading up to, and during, World War II. Once the United States entered the war though, and started bombing German cities, U.S. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy urged U.S. Generals not to use heavy artillery to take the city because of its historical significance, and its beauty. The Germans defending Rothenburg surrendered the city peacefully in order to preserve it, an act that went against the wishes of Adolf Hitler for what it’s worth. Tourism has since flourished and it seems those Germans made a wise decision, because Rothenburg makes for quite a visit.
Jordan and I spent an entire day wandering, with no particular itinerary, which was an exceedingly nice change of pace. I was especially giddy during our trip, but more on that in a few days… Of course, no trip to any German city is complete without sampling the local beer and food. Which includes Sauerbraten. Which is delicious.
After lunch we decided to venture into one of the city’s museums, the Kriminalmuseum or…Criminal Museum. I was studying law, punishment, and witchcraft in early modern Europe at the time, and this museum had a noteworthy collection of documents and artifacts on the subject. I won’t spoil the fun inside though–even if you’re not studying the subject matter, it was an entertaining, slightly gruesome, and worthwhile visit!
Another important feature of any Rothenburg trip are the Schneeballen, or snowballs. They’re the authentic dessert of Rothenburg: egg dough fried and then covered in sugar and/or chocolate.
Finally, make sure you take some time to walk along the city walls. They’re the hallmark of a medieval city after all!
So for everyone coming to visit, I hope you’re okay with one of our day trips, and for everyone else, I hope you have the chance to explore Rothenburg ob der Tauber too!