A Medieval Paradise Town Out of a Fairy Tale
I have longed to go to Rothenberg ob der Tauber for a very long time, mostly due to a single image of a beautifully quaint little yellow house set against what looked to be a village straight out of a storybook.
This house, actually. It's pretty much the singular reason that, when soon to be departed Airberlin had a killer Black Friday airfare sale, I chose to go to Germany this past May. It was also a really nice setting to attempt to have some chill after the rental car company put a large hold on my debit card/checking account and I was maybe, slightly, definitely panicking.
After departing Heidelberg and experiencing the true, unfettered speed of the legendary Autobahn, we found ourselves about 90 minutes later in the Tauber Valley, pulling into the very adorable, much awaited for Rothenberg. It did not disappoint. One the best preserved medieval cities in Germany, it's like stepping into the past a bit, with a healthy dose of obvious tourism. I'm not one who typically goes for über-touristy places, but damned if this place isn't just so charming looking that you don't really care. Also of note, the town has it's own wifi network that's free. Rejoice, smartphone and computer addicts, but make sure you get off Facebook and enjoy the sights. But okay, take a photo and post or Instagram it so your friends can experience high-alert FOMO and envy. Then, put the phone away, walk around, and be utterly charmed by the town and it's borderline fairy tale theme park feel.
Rothenberg is a walled city sitting uphill on the Tauber Valley, and it's surrounded by six different gates. Being an anime fan, I couldn't help but wonder if the walls in the series Attack on Titan and the towns depicted are a little inspired by Rothenberg. Minus like, you know, the man-eating titans. The only dangers really are wayward selfie sticks. Oh my, the selfie sticks. My kingdom to somehow put an embargo on the rampant abuse of these torture devices. Like, I get it. You want that perfect shot of you and your group standing in front of that house or to get the perfect Myspace Angle of Yore, but for Jimminy Christmas's sake, pay. Fucking. Attention. Anyway...
It is a very small town, and easily walked around in a short period of time. So what are things to do in Rothenberg? Enjoy a bite of their famous schneeballen, a pasty ball that seems to be made of equal parts powdered sugar and pie crust dough and about 100% full of the beetus. Shop in the Christmas tree shop, which for all it's kitsch really does have some beautiful pieces worth buying (I STILL WANT THE CUCKOO CLOCKS) or find some excellent armor, swords, and other merch out of a LARPers dream at the many medieval-themed shops in the marketplatz area. Honestly, I'm amazed this town hasn't figured out to like host a LARP weekend of something because it's a one-stop shop perfect for it. Need a cloak and a quill? They got you. Potion bottle? Yep. Full armor and a broadsword? YOU BET YOUR TOLKIEN LOVING ASS THEY DO.
Enjoy Franconian cuisine to fill you up before climbing up the stairs and walking along the town walls. Once done, it's worth exploring the valley below. And of course, definitely take the Nightwatchman Tour, you won't be sorry.
The thing about visiting Rothenberg is that it's a place to go when you don't want to rush, don't want a lot of bustle, and really just want to unwind, take in some gorgeous architecture and scenery, and relax. It's a great place to catch your breath in the middle of any whirlwind tour of Germany. I honestly wish we had stayed longer than overnight, and if and when I go back I'd want to spend at least 2-3 days here. I already live in a city, and I don't always need that hustle and bustle.
Sometimes you just need some peace and quiet...occasionally disrupted by tourist groups wielding the aforementioned devil's tool, selfie sticks. But I digress.
If you're feeling like visiting, you can fly into either Frankfurt or Munich airport, as both are 60-90 minute drives from Rothenberg. There's parking, buses, and a train that service the town, so you have ground transport options that are easy enough. But if you can, rent a car. Rothenburg is not that far of a drive from the Alps, and sits along the (in)famous Romantic Road.
But that's a story for next time. :)