I wanted to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber for years, but until this summer I lacked enough focus to plan the whole adventure. But it seems that time has some to finally mark another travel milestone.
Many people - from all over the world - are going to Rothenburg ob der Tauber for the famous Chrismas market. Under the summer glow, particularly early in the morning, the old cobblestone streets of the old town were an invitation to a neverending time travel adventure. The more I was walking the more I felt completely out of my times. This was until I was encountering another big group of tourists with a selfie stick.
The big cityhall market is the main point. From here, all the guided tours are starting, and the side streets are leading to different parts of the city. During my 48 hours in this picturesque place, I tried to return as often as possible, trying to catch the different reflections of lights and shadows on the old buildings.
Besides the timbered houses, the old institutional architecture is also worth a photographic try, besides the many stone patrician houses.
The colourful timbered houses, most of them rebuilt in the last decades, are the trademark of the city, and you can see them everywhere, either as locations of hotels and inns, or as residencies. I've seen such houses in many places in Germany, but here, besides the colours, the beautiful flowers adorning the small windows do make a pleasant visual difference.
It is hard to find a moment of solitude in this busy attractive city. However, if you try an early morning try around 7.00 in the summer morning, you can breath and admire every single old stone of the city.
Old fountains guarded by very serious stone figures, covered by flowers are a pleasant view in the small squares.
One of the many reasons I am already planning a return in this area, probably in one year time, is for the tempting scenery outside the Rothenburg. Besides the hiking, one can also have some tour to wineries and explore other middle age localities. This is a recommendation especially if you want to escape the hussle of the old streets. You only have to follow the Wine and Geology Trail, a relatively easy hiking as I was told by the locals.
Our guide for the 90 minutes tour around the city, mentioned several times that in Rothenburg, the holidays season is all round the year. There is a Christmas Museum here hosted inside the Käthe Wolhfart store on Herrngasse, where at the entrance you are welcomed by furry creatures working hard to make children and adults laugh. Don't ask me how many times I returned here just to watch the little toys moving their stuff.
Within the walls of the old city, there are mostly small stores and souvenirs and restaurants and hotels. Big shopping centers are only 10-minutes away of walk, near the train station. Within the old city, there are no buses, but you can see often big Mercedes taxi cars making their way on the narrow streets. Most stores do have Japanese speaking personnel or welcoming words in Japanese. It seems that Rothenburg always used to be a busy destination, as for hundreds of years it used to be a stop on the famous Jakobsweg, a pilgrim route leading to Santiago, in Spain.
The city was surrounded by old city walls, that were preserved until today and can be visited not only for interesting historical insights but also for beautiful views over Rothenburg and the neighbouring areas. There is even an Adventure Tour of all the fortifications offered to the visitors.
Walking more than once or even twice the same streets may be an unrewarding experience for a curious traveler as me, but here I discovered the pleasure of returning for discovering just one more architecture detail or a different light exposure. You can walk the streets or book a carriage to get a better view while relaxing under the summer sun. For family with children, the city is perfect no only for the many toys and teddy bears stores, but also for the easy walking the coffee places and small restaurants. Close to the city walls, there is a small playground - the only one I noticed though - on Hornburgweg, near the Rödertor.
As usual when I am in a new place, I am curious to discover the specific products and arts. The local porcelain is predominantly white with some red, the colours of the city's coat-of-arms. The small shops offering handmade products smell lavender. Besides, you can also find silk kimonos, although almost no serious Asian restaurant. For local fashion, check the many stores of AnRa, offering colourful women clothes or the more outlet-oriented Zappstyle or, in the central area, the Rosen Pavilion. One of my favourite vintage stores is Konsulat des Teppiche, with beautiful carpets from all over the world and other antiquities. I also instantly fell in love with Living Paper, selling fine creative products made of paper. Many stores offer tax free advantages. Coeur de Lion and Marie Lind Stoffe are top destinations for design and home decorations lovers.
With the neighbouring Romantic Street nearby, Rothenburg is first and foremost a beautiful destination to stroll the street in and with love. Late in the evening and the night, walk under the dim street lights and discover a different feeling. During the day, all the small architecture and human details are increasing the magic feeling. Time doesn't matter too much after a while.
The advantage of taking a local tour when you are completely new in a city or area is that you are privy to many secrets that you cannot find otherwise. For instance, these small grilled windows of the city hall used to be the only connection to the outside world of the prison cells.
The houses are painted and built in more than one style, and sometimes the luxurious garden vegetation is matching perfectly the outdoors.
Food lovers can find here interesting things to taste too. There are the famous Schneeballen - Snow balls - that I've previously tasted in Heidelberg - braided dough covered by powder sugar. Nowadays, the recipe developed a lot and there are many variants. Some stores even offer live demonstrations of how to prepare them. As everywhere in Germany, there are special types of bread, for this region, the very black-brownish one, often made of potatoes.
For the cultural junkies, there are at least two attractions. One is the Criminal History museum, an unique establishment in Germany, offering a historical overview of the evolution of the criminal system in Europe and the German states. Another one is the Reichstadt Museum, focused on the culture and history of the region. Couple of years back it used to be a Toys Museum too, that is closed now.
Most of the restaurants serve local Franconian food, with a lot of potatoes and würst or cabbage and green beens. Italian restaurants are also present, plus during the summer time, many icecream parlours. For the small snacks, Cafe Einzigartig has some delicious waffles and breakfast too, and it is family/children friendly. We also enjoyed the family ambiance from Lebenslust, with its new age paintings and tasty coffee. Many restaurants are part of the hotels and offer various discounts to their residents too, so you don't need to walk too far away for finding the right place to eat. For the hip travellers, there is a laundromat too, on Johannitergasse.
Looking around at the many colours and styles of the building, I started to wonder what actually happened with the artistic and architectural style, as we ended up living in building that can be easily taken for the other.
When the time has come to continue my Bavarian travel adventure, I knew that it is not the only trip to this place and once the summer will be back, I am ready to pack and return for some new and special travel discoveries.