The calendar says it’s April, the uni-website says it’s the beginning of summer semester… I say it’s time to travel! There are a lot of places nearby suitable for a one-day-trip, even if your budget is limited. With our Basiskarte you can travel within the whole VGN area on the weekends absolutely free of charge. If you’ve already been to Nuremberg, Weißenburg or Bamberg and know of no other place worth your attention, here is an idea – Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This small and cozy medieval city can be truly proud of its almost 1.000 year history, authentic architecture, and real Franconian atmosphere. The name of the city means “Red Fort on the River Tauber” and you can still visit this fort, which is located within a ten-minute walk of the railway station. The old part of the city is surrounded by old city walls (open for walking!) and contains dozens of mini-treasures from the previous centuries, for example:
The Town Hall
The Town Hall is situated on the Market Square, in the heart of the old town. Through its main entrance you can reach the Town Hall Tower and climb 220 steps to its viewing platform. The whole trip costs only 2 euros and guarantees beautiful cityscapes with old red-tiled rooftops.
Plönlein (“Little Square”) and the Romantic Road
This is one of the most famous photo motives from Rothenburg (to tell the truth, this was one of my personal reasons to visit this city). A half-timbered building with a small fountain in front of it is guarded by two towers: the Siebers Tower and the Kobolzeller Tower, which were built during the expansion of the city in 1204. What’s more interesting, Rothenburg is part of the Romantic Road, one of the most famous routes in Germany. It is a 400-kilometer-long road from Würzburg to Füssen in the Allgäu through the most picturesque vistas of the beautiful towns and romantic countryside in the Southern Germany. This route is perfect for couples, history nerds, sport enthusiasts, and festival fans (a lot of festivals take place at different locations along the Romantic Road).
St. James’ Church
The church was finished in 1485 and is decorated with one of the finest works of art. It is, probably, the only Protestant church with a Roman-Catholic relic – the Altar of the Holy Blood. Its namederives from the rare relic it contains – a small sample of what is believed to be Christ’s blood in a crystal incrusted into a cross, which is a part of a beautiful woodcarving ensemble by Tilman Riemenschneider depicting the Last Supper. Other masterpieces in the church include the Twelve Apostles Altar with the oldest portrayal of the town and the stained glass in the East Choir.
Only here you’ll find Europe’s biggest museum of crime and punishment – Medieval Crime and Justice Museum. Those willing to tickle their nerves will find an impressive collection of instruments for torture and execution. As an alternative, you can visit German Christmas Museumthat holds a wonderful collection of old Christmas tree decorations and historical Father Christmas figures dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries.
As a true Franconian city, Rothenburg has its own specialty: Schneebälle (Snowballs). And yes, they are eatable (alternative: edible) and very tasty! While 300 years ago you had to wait for somebody’s wedding or other special occasion to taste them, nowadays you can buy one for 1,50 – 3 euros anytime you want 😉 They are made from shortcrust pastry and can have different tastes (chocolate, cinnamon, almond, nougat, amaretto, baileys, and many other).
A little more action, please!
Rothenburg also invites everyone to its markets and fairs; for example, the 500-year-old Reiterlesmarkt, the Christmas market. Just imagine drinking mulled wine in a real medieval city with its cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and a bit of snow falling from the sky.
Or wait a bit until August and you’ll get a chance to visit a wine fair where Franconian winemakers show off their product. In September, Imperial City Festival (Reichsstadt-Festtage) takes place acquainting you with the good old days of the Middle Ages. It includes torchlight processions, music, thundering cannon, fireworks, and public executions (NO, wait… the last one doesn’t happen anymore, thanks God!).
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a unique pearl enchasing Frankonia. It takes about 2 hours to get there from Erlangen, but it’s definitely worth it. So don’t forget to take your friends, 5 euros (for the Town Hall and one snowball 🙂 ) and have a nice weekend!