Rothenburg ob de Tauber
August 7, 2014
We started our day by catching an 8:30 a.m. train to Rothenburg ob de Tauber(on the Tauber River). After an hour wait at our first stop in the town of Mainz and then train changes in two other towns we arrived in Rothenburg at 3 p.m. Rothenburg, located halfway between Frankfurt and Munich, is Germany’s best-preserved walled town with original buildings dating from the Middle ages.
We entered the city from the East through the Röder Tower Gate, which dates back to 1380. Standing inside the walled city, I felt like I had stepped back in time. Buildings decorated with flower-filled window boxes lined narrow cobblestone streets. Half-timbered old houses were topped with red tile roofs. I couldn’t wait to explore this medieval town but first we had to find our lodging for the night.
After dropping off our luggage at Kreuzerhof Hotel, we headed back into the center of town, and decided to take a walk atop the town wall. The massive stonewall and its forty-two towers were built during the 13th century. As the town grew, the wall had to be extended three times and is now about 1.5 miles long. We accessed the wall by climbing some stairs near one of the towers.
The walkway, protected by the cover of a wooden roof area erected over the wall, provided stunning panoramic views of the town. I looked down on red roofed buildings and spotted church steeples and towers in the distance. Along the fringe of the wall, I saw buildings and homes that were great examples of medieval architecture and got glimpses into backyards and beautiful gardens.
From the height of the thirty-foot wall, I was able to see the maze of lanes and alleyways that weaved between the buildings. Some parts of the wall were tight to fit through and the roof was so low in some places Rodge had to duck. The stonewall made of limestone, quarry, and sandstone rocks were full of arrow slots, used to defend the city within from attacking enemies.
Unfortunately, sections of the wall (mostly the eastern part) were destroyed by American bombs during World War II. The damaged walls were completely rebuilt in twenty years with worldwide donations. The entire length of the wall was covered in plaques that identified donors who supported rebuilding the wall.
After dinner, we went on one of the most popular tours in Rothenburg, the Night Watchman’s Tour. We arrived in Market Square at 8 p.m. and were greeted by the Night Watchman decked out in a black cape and tricorn hat. For forty minutes, we strolled through the town and listened to his informative stories full of history and dry humor. It was an entertaining way to learn about Medieval Rothenburg and its people.