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Rothenburg ob der Tauber - Medieval Charm in Modern Day


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Uneven cobblestone streets, short, squatty doorways, aged half-timbered houses, and all contained within an imposingly thick wall of stone – you’ve just entered Rothenburg ob der Tauber. One of Germany’s most visited cities, Rothenburg oozes with medieval charm. And why shouldn’t it? Its history dates back as far as 970 A. D and the walls have seen their share of time.

Overlooking the Tauber River valley, Rothenburg has survived centuries of war and natural disasters with the help of generous contributions from all over the world. This is not surprising as the fascinating little town transports the visitor to another time with one step inside its gates. The antiquated buildings stand as witness to how life used to be – small societies where everyone’s life cannot help but be intermingled with everyone else’s…which isn’t hard to imagine when the buildings are joined one to another. The town’s folklore is passed down from generation to generation and recounted for the millions of tourists that drink in (pun intended, as you’ll read in a moment) these sometimes unbelievable tales. The most well-known legend is that of Lord Mayor Nusch.

Rothenburg suffered occupation during the Thirty Years War despite heavy resistance from its citizens. In an act of jest, the occupying General announced that the city could be saved from destruction if someone from Rothenburg could drink a tankard of West German wine in one gulp (that’s a whopping 3.25 liters!). Lord Nusch stepped up and put his drinking skills (and liver, no doubt) to the test – and saved the town. As a tribute, the City Councillors’ Tavern houses mechanical figures that act out the story at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, and 9pm each day. Crowds gather in the courtyard to watch a motorized Nusch guzzle his town’s salvation while the surprised General looks on.

Another alluring sight at Rothenburg is in St. Jakob’s Church. Constructed in a high gothic style, its towering, arched ceilings quickly make the visitor feel small and insignificant – a perfect state for worship. The two mismatching steeples hold an ungodly story of their own. Supposedly, two different men designed them – the master took on the south steeple and his apprentice took the north one. When construction was completed, the apprentice has erected a more slender and striking tower. Consumed by his anger and jealousy, the master committed suicide by throwing himself off of the top of his own steeple. Despite the high ceilings and deadly towers, the attraction to St. Jakob’s for many is its shrine. Legend has it that three drops of Christ’s blood were caught in a rock crystal, which is now at the center of the ornately carved Altar of the Holy Blood.

Rothenburg is quaint, picturesque, and worthy of any jigsaw puzzle – even more so in the wintertime. Despite the harsh weather and freezing temperatures, many brave the elements to catch a glimpse of this adorable little town with a blanket of snow. The lights glow from their icy coverings and everything is decorated to the hilt for the Christmas season. Germany is famous for its ‘Weihnachtsmarkt’ (Christmas Markets) and Rothenburg rivals them all. In addition to the normal hot sausage, roasted chestnuts, and spiced wine, Rothenburg’s market offers a myriad of medieval-inspired crafts and trinkets which perfectly reflect the town’s personality.

Abounding in charm and charisma, Rothenburg ob der Tauber promises a delightfully medieval vacation from the modern world at any time of year.

See more of Europe's hidden treasures in “Europe for the Senses - A Photographic Journal" by Vicki Landes.

Initially a skeptic, Vicki Landes was not thrilled when her military husband moved her and their new baby to Stuttgart, Germany – in fact, she went kicking and screaming. She quickly took to Europe and ended up living in Germany for a full seven years. During that time, Landes became an avid world traveler and published author. With a current list of 45 countries under her belt, Landes strives to find the overlooked details that make each place distinctive and unique. “Europe for the Senses – A Photographic Journal” is her first book.

Visit her website: – access information on the book, Landes’ blog, book reviews, press spots, book trailers, links to purchasing options, sign up for Landes’ weekly newsletter, and her new online photography galleries!


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