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Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber



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At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exist countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

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Altes Brauhaus (Rothenburg ob der Tauber)

The Altes Brauhaus is an historic building in the centre of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria, southern Germany. It was originally a brewery.

The "manorial brewery" (herrschaftliches Bräuhaus) was built in 1698 by the magistrate (Magistrat) and opened in the following year it was redesignated in 1724 as a "free imperial town brewery" (freies reichsstädtischen Bräuhaus). It is located in the town centre, within the historic town walls of Rothenburg, surrounded by town gardens and timber-framed houses, about 3 minutes from the market place. On 13 August 1804, Johann Georg Roth bought the brewery at auction and so it went into private hands for the first time. Since that time, the Bräuhaus has changed hands several times. In 1905, master brewer Josef Beugler, the great grandfather of the present owner, became the proprietor of the brewery.

In 1920, the brewery operation was moved to the steam brewery built by Hans Hopf in front of the Klingentor gate. The Bräuhaus Rothenburg in Wenggasse became the malthouse as part of the new purchase and from then on became known as the Altes Brauhaus. Both businesses (outside the gate and in the town) were united and run as a single brewery under the name Brauhaus Rothenburg.

Today, the cross barrel vaulting (Kreuztonnengewölbe) in the brewhouse is a witness to the times of the "manorial brewery" in the days of imperial town rule. The beamwork of the roof gives an indication of the craftsmanship of master builders in times gone by.


Rothenburg ob der Tauber: The Nicest Spot of Them All

When you find a medieval building that turns out to be the perfect photo object, and hundreds more at every corner, you are most likely in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a stunningly beautiful spot.

Berlin, October 15th, 2020. Update: January 28th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Looking for a medieval atmosphere and a lot of beauty? In Rothenburg ob der Tauber you won’t have to go far. In fact, you will find both at every corner in the old town. Located in Ansbach country, on the Bavarian side of the border to Baden-Württemberg, this place is exceptional.

There is only one spot quite like it. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Recreated in London

It is not a coincidence that Rothenburg ob der Tauber served as a model for inspiring architecture a hundred years ago. For instance, the architects who designed London’s Hampstead Garden Suburb recreated some of the elements they found in Rothenburg, including shapes of roofs, stairwells, parts of the city wall and arcades.

This is what Rothenburg must have looked like hundreds of years ago as well. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

The Rothenburg Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber dedicated an exhibition to this phenomenon. It is entitled ‘Rothenburg in London’ and lasts until October of 2021. The museum offers many more interesting sections.

Did anybody say “beauty”? We just did. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Modern Age Delayed

For hundreds of years, namely from 1274 to 1803, Rothenburg was a free imperial city. Later, the modern age was delayed in this beautiful town. There was no train connection until 1881 and the industrialization was basically skipped. From today’s perspective, this is a big advantage because nobody messed with the medieval buildings Rothenburg is known for.

Being on top of the wall like Humpty Dumpty feels good in Rothenburg. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Before World War II, Rothenburg was already a tourist magnet. During its last years, the town was hit. But the damage could be repaired in an unobtrusive way, meaning the medieval style was kept. In the old town, is a mission impossible to identify the buildings that were repaired or built after 1945.

There are photo objects everywhere, almost like in Rome. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

History and Beauty

Most German cities and towns had gaps that were filled with mostly ugly 1950s or 1960s buildings. Rothenburg did not. Just delete the word ‘ugly’ from your dictionaries. You will not need it in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. People down here do not even know what it means. Why would they?

Mediterranean colors can be found in Central Europe. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Rothenburg has some 11,000 inhabitants. Usually, towns of this size do not have a million restaurants. They do not have countless tourist guides or huge parking lots outside their walled town centers. And they do not have dozens of souvenir shops and hotels. Rothenburg does. This spot is different because of its history and beauty.

It is easy to get lost while looking for Harry Potter in Hogwarts a.k.a. Rothenburg. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Nice Grassy Landscape

The beauty should be witnessed from the outside as well. Walking down to Tauber Bridge at 100 degrees Fahrenheit will seem like a good idea at first. From here, the town can be photographed along with its wall. Had there been digital cameras in the year 1300, the pics taken would probably not have looked very different. The Tauber is a small river the water of which looks very clean. It flows through a nice grassy landscape.

You will never run out of stunning sights in Rothenburg. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Returning to the old town, by climbing the hill it was built on, in this heat in the summer of 2020, made this little deviation feel like a rather bad idea, for the duration of the climb. Anyone will be sweating like hell after this endeavor, but the next refreshment is already waiting at one of the cafés at the breathtaking Market Square.

Those who do not mind cramps in their necks can look at Rothenburgs beautiful churches. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Spätzle and Wasps

Yes, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a ‘tourist trap’ in the sense that the entire town builds on the business it has with tourists from both Germany and the entire world. The Americans, Chinese, Japanese and Koreans cannot get enough of this place. Rothenburg’s orientation towards tourists is obvious. This applies in regard to restaurant prices too. Why wouldn’t the most beautiful town in Germany be touristy?

This piece of art should be consumed before it gets cold. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Rothenburg in the heat, Rothenburg in fall colors, Rothenburg in the snow: This spot is always too attractive to be real. The ‘Reiterlesmarkt’ is the local version of the traditional German Christmas market and should not be missed. But sitting outside with an oversized plate of ‘Käsespätzle’ and fighting off a few wasp attacks in summer is priceless too.

Tourists are a species that can be found a lot in Rothenburg. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Harry Potter in Rothenburg

Bavaria’s medieval marvel has seven museums, a million towers and picturesque buildings, six churches, interesting city wall gates and several big annual events.

The Tauber river is narrow and cute. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Many movies have been shot in and above Rothenburg ob der Tauber, including parts of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1’. The aerial footage they recorded for this flick was not used though. But a scene shot in town was indeed added, which is why Rothenburg is being mentioned in the closing credits nobody reads.

Rothenburg. See it to believe it. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Rothenburg ob der Tauber as a whole is an art object and the definition of a sightseeing spot. Sure, there are quite a few beautiful cities and towns in Germany, including Schwäbisch Hall, Heidelberg, Bamberg and many others. But even in this list, Rothenburg sticks out.

Whew. This is the first feature in months that does not contain the word Corona. Ooops. Now it does.

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Contents

Protestant Reformation Edit

Georg Albrecht, son of Eucharius Albrecht (born ca. 1461), attended first the University of Leipzig (enrolled ca. 1513) and then Wittenberg University, now the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg (enrolled 28 September 1517). One of Georg’s tutors at Wittenberg was Thomas Müntzer who met with Martin Luther in Spring 1517 and participated in discussions which are considered influential in Luther posting his Ninety-five Theses on 31 October 1517 [1] [2] thereby sparking the Protestant Reformation, one of the effects of which would be to question obedience to clerical authority and thereby facilitate humanist efforts towards what would become the fields of modern science and philosophy. [3]

The Reformation and a new emperor, Charles V (ruled 1519 – 1556), considerably destabilized the religious and economic balance of the Holy Roman Empire. The German Peasants' War (1524-5) saw Eucharius, Georg’s father, appointed by the Rothenburg city council to head a committee for negotiating with the rebels in Spring 1525. [4] The Peasants Revolt was eventually put down by Casimir, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth in a campaign which included a decisive victory at Rothenburg itself, after which, it was said, the city’s market squares ran red with the blood of the beheaded rebels. As a consequence, the Rothenburg city elders adopted a low profile, avoiding attracting imperial attention while at the same time remaining on good terms with the staunchly Catholic emperor. Despite this, in 1544, Rothenburg ob der Tauber adopted Lutheranism as its official religion. [5] The Peace of Augsburg (1545) brought a relative calm between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire that would last into the second decade of the following century. .

Kilian Albrecht (ca.1500-1574), grandson of Eucharius Albrecht, was Sheriff and then Bailiff of Gebsattel from April 1555. He was elected to the Interior council of Rothenburg in 1565, the first Albrecht family member to hold an administrative role. In 1596 his son, Leonhard (ca.1550-1613), married Maria Magdalena Forst, daughter of Michael Forst, the wealthy Vogt of Comburg. The close relationship between Leonhard Albrecht and Michael Forst resulted in the granting of an Albrecht coat of arms in 1605, as noted in Johann Siebmacher's Groβes Wappenbuch. [6] [7] Leonhard was also a member of Rothenburg’s Exterior Council. In 1603, Leonhard and Maria Magdalena produced a son, Georg Albrecht (1603-1666). Leonhard Albrecht died on 19 January 1613.

Thirty Years War Edit

The Thirty Years War broke out in 1618 after the incumbent Holy Roman Emperor, the Catholic Ferdinand II, decided to curb the growing Protestant influence within his borders. Georg Albrecht (1603 – 1666) had lost his father, Leonhard, at age 9, but his mother Maria Magdalena’s remarriage to Bernhard Betzold, another member of Rothenburg’s Interior Council, ensured the boy continued to be well connected and educated. Georg went first to the University at Altdorf and then onto the University of Strasbourg where he studied under the polymath Matthias Bernegger (1582–1640). Georg Albrecht’s political-legal thesis, De Judiciorum Cura Politica, [8] was submitted at Strasbourg in 1624. In it can be felt all the tension of the Zeitgeist prevalent just six years after the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, [9] in that it exhibits a strong influence from the French jurist and political philosopher, Jean Bodin (1529–1596) with his preference for strong and centralised state government, [10] yet is tempered by the strong humanitarian tendencies of the staunchly protestant Bernegger. [11] [12] [13]

After moving in influential Lutheran circles [14] in Strasbourg and Tübingen, Georg Albrecht returned to war-torn Rothenburg ob der Tauber. By the end of the war, the Protestant-aligned city had been besieged in 1631 and attacked in 1634 by Catholic forces, and then attacked again in 1645 by French Protestants, and finally occupied by Swedish forces who stayed until 1650, two years after the hostilities had officially ended. [15] Georg became a member of Rothenburg’s Exterior Council (1628), the Interior Council (1632), a tax official (1633), the school and church council (1634), and holder of the Würzburg fiefs (1635, 1644, and 1657 onward), the last appointment of which led to a change in the Albrecht family coat of arms. [16] Georg Albrecht also held the mayoralty of Rothenburg three times (1658, 1660, 1663).

Georg and his wife Susanna (wedded in 1627) had eight children together. Georg Albrecht died in the early hours of 6 February 1666. He was survived by three of his daughters and two sons.

Aftermath of the Thirty Years War Edit

Georg Albrecht’s two surviving sons were Andreas Conrad (b. 1635) and Johann Georg (1629–1703). Johann Georg was a poet, musician, [17] and legal scholar, who held the title of Legal Counsel for Rothenburg for 49 years (1654 – 1703). He studied first at the University of Strasbourg (1648) and thereafter at the University of Altdorf where, in 1654, he completed his doctoral thesis under the guidance of Prof. Nicola Rittershus and Dr. Wilhelm Ludwels. The thesis, submitted for inclusion in a Codex Mandati at the University of Altdorf, discusses a single aspect of Law, that of the cessio or on-selling of a legal action to a third party for the purposes of recovering a debt. [18] It is a technical thesis that highlights the way unscrupulous contemporary legal parties were ‘mangling’ the laws of the ancient Roman emperors Anastasius and Justinian that had originally been enacted to protect the debtor. The subject matter of the thesis is relevant to its context in the period immediately following the end of the Thirty Years War, as the hostilities had seriously destabilized the economic infrastructure of the Holy Roman Empire and cash-flow had all but dried up. [19]

The (by then) Dr. Johann Georg Albrecht’s 49-year tenure as Legal Counsel to the Imperial Free City of Rothenburg ob der Tauber was virtually contemporaneous with that of the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I (reigned 1658–1705). It was a period of relative internal calm for Europe, during which the Ottoman Turk incursions into Europe were finally halted in a decisive battle outside Vienna in 1683. While Leopold brought stability to the Empire as a whole, Dr. Johann Georg Albrecht was sorting out the damaged and neglected City Archives in war ravaged Rothenburg.

Dr. Johann Georg Albrecht had married Anna Magdalena Walther in 1655. Together they had seven children, only three of whom survived their parents: Johann Georg Albrecht (1657–1720), Johann Jeremias Albrecht (1658–1708), and Johann Adam Albrecht (1661–1716). Johann Jeremias became the Hospital Master for the Rothenburg Council, Johann Adam became the Rothenburg parish priest of Schmerbach, and Johann Georg followed in his father’s footsteps by studying and practising Law.

German Enlightenment Edit

Johann Georg Albrecht (1657–1720) studied first at the University of Altdorf and then sought his license to practise Law at the Royal Saxon University of Jena where, amongst other masters, he was taught by Georg Adam Struve (1619-1692), Chair of Law at the university, City Councillor to the City of Braunschweig, and Privy Councillor to the Dukes of Saxony-Weimar. The extant copy of Johann Georg’s Dissertatio Civilis et Canonica de Succesione Conjugum, Collegiorum et Fisci or Civil and Canonical Dissertation on the Succession of Spouses, Colleges, and the State Treasury, submitted at Jena in 1677, appears to have transmitted in a truncated (and, possibly, slightly corrupted) state. Distortions aside, this discussion considers the various scenarios under which spouses and relatives may inherit from one another as well as when it is lawful for professional colleges or even the State Treasury to step in and take a slice. The dissertation discusses the problems faced by female beneficiaries and also highlights how inheritance law differed between Germanic states within the Holy Roman Empire at the time. [20] Johann Georg Albrecht’s dissertation is representative of the wider groundswell of the German Enlightenment as German lawmakers sought to make sense of antiquated Roman Law in the dawning Age of Reason. Albrecht’s supervisor, Georg Adam Struve, was considered amongst the most influential figures in the particularly German movement known as the usus modernus pandectarum or Modern Application of the Pandectae, which was geared to modernising the application of the Roman Law System that had been based on the original Roman Digest. It was Struve’s work, the Iurisprudentia Romano-germanica Forensis that was to become the standard reference text for students, teachers, judges, and advocates of German Law and enjoy 31 reprints between 1670 and 1771.

Johann Georg Albrecht was appointed as a Councillor in Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1681 and then elected Mayor in 1682. In 1686 he was elected Tax Official, a role he performed for the next 11 years. He was later appointed Assessor of the Interior Council (1697), Middle Tax Official (1701), and Governing Mayor (1702). After those appointments he became Highest Tax Official, Curator of the Hospitals and Convents, and Land Vogt. He died peacefully on Thursday, 29 August 1720.

Johann Georg Albrecht had married Margaretha Dorothea Sauber on 2 December 1679. Together they had eleven children only three of whom reached adulthood: Johann Christoph (1680–1751), David Christoph (1690-1740), and Euphrosyna Lucia.

The daughter, Euphrosyna Lucia, married Johann Schrag, a member of Rothenburg’s Exterior Council, but both sons followed in their father’s footsteps by first reading Law at university and then taking on civic responsibility in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Johann Christoph Albrecht (1680–1751) initially studied philosophy, physics, and politics under Professor Treuner at the University of Jena but left to study Law at the University of Halle where he came under the supervision of Christian Thomasius (1655 – 1728), a key figure in the German Enlightenment. Thomasius was the first lecturer to teach in German not Latin and was consequently excommunicated by The Pope. He held controversial views on a number of subjects including interdenominational marriage and the persecution of witches, and he championed the view that applying the letter of Roman Law to practices that arose from peculiarly German traditions and behavioural patterns was not only misleading but entirely inaccurate. Johann Christoph Albrecht’s Dissertatio Iuris Gentium Privati de Arrhis Em(p)tionum or Dissertation on the Law of Nations (Pertaining to the Individual) Concerning the Guarantee of Purchases was submitted at the University of Halle on 9 September 1702. [21] It discusses the Latin word arrha and how it had been misapplied to a variety of sale and purchase transaction ‘guarantees’ across several German states from the time of the Visigoths through to the early 1700s, and was, therefore, an example of why Latin legal terms as espoused in the Roman Law Pandectae had no place in German States that were striving towards a national self-identity.

Johann Christoph returned to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1703. There, he was elected to the Council (1704), became Mayor (1707), Lieutenant-in-Charge of the War Deputation (1711), and was elected to the office of Judge (1713). After his father’s death in 1720 he also took over the office of Bank Manager in the Inner Council. He became Head of the War Office (1724), Captain of the Citizens’ Guard (1732), Middle Tax Official (1733), and Governing Consul (1736). At other times he was elected Highest Tax Official, Curator of the Hospital and of the Convent, Highest War Official, Consistor, Scholarcha, and regional Land Vogt. [22]

Johann Christoph Albrecht wed three times. The first marriage, in 1703, was to Dorothea Sophie Hochstätter who died a year later, leaving behind a young daughter, Cordula Barbara Sophia. The second marriage, in 1707, was to Maria Eleonara Kraussenberger with whom he begat 5 children, two of whom survived childhood. The third marriage, in 1736, was to Margaretha Barbara Sinold (née Jos) with whom, in 1739 he had a daughter, Sabina Euphrosina, who died that same year, followed a year later by her mother. Johann Christoph Albrecht himself died on Monday, 8 March 1751.

Johann Christoph Albrecht’s younger brother, David Christoph Albrecht (1690-1740), attended the University of Halle between 1708–1711 where he read philosophy, natural law, and private and canon law. The authorship of his dissertation De efficientia Metus tum in promissionibus liberarum gentium tum etiam hominum privatorum, auxiliisque contra metum or Concerning the Effect of Fear (in the sense of pressure or force) on Contracts between Free Peoples as well as Private Citizens, and Aids against Fear is currently disputed. [23] After University, David Christoph followed a patron to Vienna where he worked as a solicitor in the office of the Imperial Privy Councillor, von Praun, before returning to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1716 to take up the role of Registrar. He became an actuary in 1722 and was made Consul in 1724.

In 1717, David Christoph Albrecht had married Juliana Cordula with whom he had 6 children, four of whom survived to adulthood. David Christoph died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1740.

Johann Christoph Albrecht and David Christoph Albrecht's father, Johann Georg Albrecht (1657–1720), had married again to Maria Christina (née Göttlingk) with whom he begat more sons. Their epitaphs are evidence that they continued the Albrecht family tradition of service to their city, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Nicolaus Christoph Albrecht (1711-1776) attended the Royal Saxon Academy at Jena where he studied for four and a half years under Reusch, Kőhler, Teichmeyer, and Schmeizel for history and philosophy, under Brunquell and Heimburg for Law, and under Pertsch and Beck for German, Canonical and Feudal Law. After further travels including visits to the three famous Universities of Halle, Wittenberg, and Leipzig, he returned to Rothenburg in 1731, where he held several offices including on the Exterior Council (1733), the Interior Council (1753), Consul in the City Senate (1766), and Land Vogt in the Zwerchmeyer (1773). In 1733, Nicolaus Christoph had married Sophia Maria. The union lasted for almost 24 years until Maria Sophia's death in 1756 and between them they produced seven children, of whom six survived childhood.

Nicolaus Christoph's younger brother, Johann Georg Albrecht (1712-1793), attended the Universities of Jena and Halle between 1732-34 before travelling to Vienna to work with von Praun, the Procurator at the Imperial Court. He returned to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1739 where he married Friederike Margaretha (née Walther). Friederike's father, Christoph Augustin Walther, who was a member of Rothenburg's Interior Council encouraged Johann Georg's municipal career as he became first City Archivist, then Actuary (1753), and, later, Assessor to the city's Exterior Council. The only son from the marriage, Georg Daniel Albrecht (1745-1800), went on to become a Senator in Rothenburg's Inner Council.

Napoleon Bonaparte Edit

Johann Friedrich Gustav Albrecht (1710-1771), the son of Johann Christoph Albrecht (1680-1751), had been granted the title of Hofrat at Rothenburg ob der Tauber by the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach in 1742. One of his sons, Christoph Friedrich Albrecht (1762-1834), studied Law at the University of Erlangen from 1780 before returning to Rothenburg and serving on the city's Exterior Council (1788) but his municipal career was cut short. The declaration of the French Republic in 1792 and execution of that country's king, Louis XVI, in 1793 sent shock waves around Europe. A coalition against France was drawn up and, on 22 March 1793, the Reichstag recognised the need for the Holy Roman Empire to formally declare war on France. [24]

The escalating unrest in Europe, coupled with growing disgruntlement in Rothenburg itself, heralded the end of the status quo. The city's growing bourgeoisie, increasingly encouraged to question by the rapidly spreading German Enlightenment, were asking why the city's top administrative and magisterial positions had remained the exclusive preserve of the same elite patrician families such as the Albrechts for at least the past two centuries, and they tried to force change. But in the end, it didn't matter. The Holy Roman Empire failed to unite against France, with Prussia initially taking a neutral stance, a move which effectively opened the way for French troops under Napoleon to move into Franconia, with Rothenburg itself being occupied in 1796. In 1801, Napoleon and his allies recommended that the Imperial Free Cities of the Holy Roman Empire, Rothenburg amongst them, lose their special status. The final blow to the Albrechts and their patrician allies came on 24 May 1802, when it was decided that Franconia, the province in which Rothenburg was situated, become part of Bavaria. By 2 September of that same year, Bavarian soldiers had occupied the city. Lutheran Rothenburg was now ruled by the Catholic House of Wittelsbach. [ citation needed ]

Agreements reached on 25 February 1803 saw a massive redistribution of territory within the Holy Roman Empire. [25] The new regime, based in Munich, seeking to address the city of Rothenburg's financial debts, sold off much land owned by its patrician families. Among those who lost out were the Albrechts. Christoph Friedrich Albrecht's career was brought to an end as was that of his relative, Christian Gustav Albrecht (b. 1745), who had held the title of Land Commissioner and who was fired for poor performance. Although some other patrician families attempted to adapt to the new regime and change in political circumstances, the Albrechts never regained their former status in the city. [ citation needed ]

The Albrecht family of Rothenburg ob der Tauber's coat of arms can, today, be seen in many places, including a grave memorial in Cape Town, South Africa, the records of the College of Arms, London, [26] and forming the frontispiece of a published history of the family, researched and authored by Nicholas Albrecht, a descendant of the original Albrechts, now domiciled in Auckland, New Zealand. [27]


Rothenburg’s landmark – Plönlein

What exactly is the Plönlein? And where in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is it located? Many guests ask about the landmark and probably most famous photo subject in Rothenburg – here we’ll use it as a starting point for a short tour of the city’s historic residential buildings.

The Plönlein – more than just one building

Many think that the name Plönlein refers to a yellow timber-frame house at the entrance of the Spital quarter. It’s true that the tilted, crooked house is in the center of the Plönlein. The term Plönlein is actually translated as a “small square at a fountain”, which means that the ensemble at the Plönlein also includes the fountain in front of the lone timber-frame house and the two towers of the old city wall that rise to its left and right – on the left the Siebersturm leading to Spital quarter, on the right the tower for the Kobolzeller Tor from 1360, which opens towards the Tauber Valley.

What is Pinocchio doing in Rothenburg?

The Plönlein is a true international star: Many consider the timber-frame house on the Plönlein to represent a typical motif of Rothenburg’s old quarter. Starting with Walt Disney’s classic “Pinocchio” (1940), its architecture is copied by artists, architects and designers whenever they have to depict a typical medieval setting in Europe. It also appears in video games (Tekken Tag Tournament 2), music videos (most recently in LilDicky’s song “Earth”), comics and Japanese mangas (Little Snow Fairy Sugar, 2001).

From Plönlein via the Markusturm to Herrngasse

The Plönlein is a perfect starting point for exploring the most beautiful historic houses in the old quarter. Through Untere Schmiedgasse, visitors walking from the Plönlein will soon reach Alter Stadtgraben. The term “old” (“Alt”) isn’t a coincidence: the moat in front of the original city wall was filled in after the expansion of the old quarter in late 12 th century and new residential space was developed here. One of the oldest houses of the time still in its original state can now be visited as a museum, or as part of a tour with the Craftsman’s Widow Walburga: the old Rothenburg Craftsman’s House. From here it’s only a few yards to another world-famous photo subject in Rothenburg, the Roeder Arch and Markusturm. In the 13th century, at the time of the first city wall at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, this was one of four original town gates. You can find more information consulting Rothenburg’s Tower Trail. Around 1900, the roof shape of the Markusturm inspired London architects in their creation of the “Arcade House” and “Temple Fortune House” building ensemble as an entrance to the Hampstead Garden Suburb. More information to these facts please see “Picturesque – Rothenburg as Landscape Gardens”. If you’re watching out for storks in Rothenburg, you’ll find them in spring and summer on the roof of the Markusturm.

A short walk towards the Marktplatz from the Markusturm then takes you towards the magnificent patricians’ street in the west of the city. On the way to the Castle Garden, you can find some of the oldest residences in Rothenburg on Herrngasse. The building now operated as the herrnschlösschen Hotel is considered the oldest stone house in the city.


Rothenburg ob der Tauber Tower Trail

Walking along the Tower Trail was one of my fondest memories in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This 2.5 mile (4 km) path takes you along the 14th-century ramparts that are still remarkably intact today.

From this vantage point, you’ll have sweeping views of the towers, cobbled streets, and half-timbered homes that comprise Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s Altstadt (Old Town).

This old town wall is also covered, making it the perfect walk, rain or shine.

During medieval times, there was a curfew here at night. If you were outside the city wall past a certain time, you’d be locked out until the next morning or have to pay a hefty fine to be let in. Scary, right?! Nobody wanted to be left outside the walls among the thieves and wild animals. Such a different world back then!

Rothenburg’s medieval wall is truly one of a kind, and gives visitors a great glimpse of what life looked like several hundred years ago.


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Familiengeführte Hotels und Pensionen machen den Aufenthalt in Rothenburg ob der Tauber zum sehr persönlichen Erlebnis. Wir stellen euch hier in den kommenden Wochen Gastgeber aus Rothenburg ob der Tauber vor.

Kopfkino in Rothenburg ob der Tauber - die Familie Berger im Romantik Hotel Markusturm

Die am häufigsten fotografierten Motive in Rothenburg ob der Tauber? Ohne große Umschweife landet man hier am weltberühmten Plönlein und am Ensemble am Markusturm sowie Röderbogen – der Blick von der Rödergasse bietet ein eindrucksvolles Zeugnis der ersten Stadtbefestigung. Zur besonderen Atmosphäre trägt das Romantik Hotel Markusturm der Familie Berger einen gewaltigen Teil bei.

Eine Stadt wie Rothenburg ob der Tauber lebt von der Geschichte und von den Geschichten, die in ihr erlebt werden. Was sich beim Spazierengehen durch die mittelalterlich anmutenden Gassen schon an Kopfkino auftut, wird beim Verweilen in einem der historischen Gebäude der Altstadt meist noch weitergesponnen. Wie war es hier wohl früher? Wer lebte hier vor circa 500 Jahren? Was waren die Hoffnungen und Gedanken der Menschen, die in den 1920ern an den Stammtischen der Gasthäuser saßen? Befruchtet werden solche Imaginationen, wenn man sich als Gast mit jemandem unterhält, der die Geschichte eines Hauses lebt und lebhaft wie präzise erinnert. Und so jemand ist Stephan Berger vom Romantik Hotel Markusturm in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. All das selbst erlebt haben, was er über die bewegte Geschichte des Hauses erzählt, kann er qua seines Alters nicht. Aber er hat offensichtlich gut zugehört, wenn seine Großeltern und Eltern die Anekdoten aus dem Hotel vor dem Markusturm erzählten. Mit seiner Frau Lilo hat er die letzten Jahrzehnte des Hauses natürlich selbst mitgeprägt und es zu dem gemacht, was es heute ist: ein Romantik Hotel, in dem Paare und Familien exklusiv und mit hohem Anspruch übernachten und sicherlich auch im Kopfe zeitreisen.

„Wir haben eine sehr innige Beziehung zu dem Gebäude, zu dem Haus und zu Rothenburg“ – die Worte von Stephan Berger sind eine Untertreibung. Mit seiner Frau Lilo ist er die Seele des Hauses, steht in der Küche („gutbürgerlich-fränkisch“), braut auch schon einmal das eigene Bier im Keller, empfängt die Gäste wie auch das hervorragende Team und plant die nächsten Jahre. „Bei uns geht es zu wie im Handwerksbetrieb: Ich mach‘ die Baustelle, meine Frau das Büro“, bringt Stephan Berger die grobe Aufgabenteilung auf den Punkt. „Der Markusturm hat sich schon immer als besseres Haus verstanden – schon zu Beginn um 1900, als meine Urgroßmutter das Anwesen als Aussteuer in die Ehe einbrachte. Und das führen wir so weiter, mit stetigen Erweiterungen, Renovierungen und bald einer fünften Generation der Familie Berger: unsere Tochter Lissy steigt schon in das Unternehmen ein.“ Im Romantik Hotel Markusturm – seit 1974 ergänzt dieses Label den Traditionsnamen – ist alles mit Historie aufgeladen: Bergers Anekdoten über die Geschichte des Hauses, die Gäste, die Besitzerfamilien und deren Verwandtschaft führen auf faszinierende Art und Weise durch die deutsche Geschichte der letzten 120 Jahre. Die Auswanderung der Großeltern nach San Francisco in den 1920er Jahren, ihre Rückkehr 1932, die Nutzung des Gebäudes als Lazarett im Krieg, der Neustart als Hotel (das Gebäude wurde nicht zerstört) in den Wirtschaftswunderjahren bis in die heutige, globalisierte Zeit mit Gästen aus aller Welt – all das wird an Details und persönlichen Geschichten anschaulich erläutert. So ist eine Unterhaltung mit Stephan Berger spannend wie die Beststeller der Jahrhundert-Trilogie von Carmen Korn.

Wie sich das Leben mit einem Hotel für den Gast anhört? O-Ton Stephan Berger: „Mit drei Jahren saß ich im Gastraum und meine Großmutter hat mir für das Mittagessen ein Schnitzel klein geschnitten. Ich weiß noch heute, wie ich mir als kleiner Bub dachte: Was sollen die Gäste, wenn ich mal groß bin, darüber denken?“ Die Gastfreundschaft und die Hinwendung zum Gast hat die ganze Familie mit der Muttermilch aufgesogen. Viele Gäste sind aber erstmal überwältigt von der historisch aufgeladenen Wucht des Gebäudes, die eine andere ist als die pompöse Überdimensionierung der Grand Hotels in den Metropolen. Das Romantik Hotel Markusturm atmet in jedem Winkel Geschichte, die Grundmauern stammen aus dem 13. Jahrhundert. Der Bierkeller führt in das einstige Verlies unter dem Markusturm, dem ehemaligen Stadtgefängnis. Einst – so lässt es sich nachvollziehen – bestand die Front des Hotels aus zwei kleineren Häusern, die um 1488 unter einem Dach vereinigt wurden. Die Balken des Dachstuhls stammen noch aus jener Zeit. Innerhalb dieser historischen Struktur schafft es die Familie Berger, den Zimmern durch stetige Renovierung einen modernen Anstrich zu verpassen. Lilo Berger führt in die neuesten Suiten mit edlen Bädern und viel Liebe zum Detail – so grüßt die Rothenburger Stadtsilhouette von den Duschtüren. Die historischen Balken werden sichtbar in das Konzept der Räume integriert – und da sind wir wieder: im Kopfkino Rothenburg ob der Tauber.


Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Disney in Real Life

In this post, we visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and share our experience, tips, and photos from this city in Germany that is known for its old world charm. It’s actually more than that: the quaint village has a fairytale charm that defies explanation, and feels less like a place you should encounter in real life and more like something out of a Disney film. What’s ironic is not only the fact that it does exist in real life, but also that it has been the inspiration for Disney settings in both film (Pinocchio) and theme parks (Epcot’s Germany pavilion). Fans of either should notice some familiar sights in these photos.

And in what I guess is a twist of double irony, it would seem that Disney’s theme parks now serve as some of the inspiration for Rothenburg. (It’s like when the attraction Pirates of the Caribbean inspired a movie, and then the attraction received a movie tie-in!) Not in any explicit way, but the way Rothenburg now operates has a distinctly Disney-esque feel in terms of showmanship and how it’s deftly commercialized. It’s tourist-y, but without the cheap feel that often comes with that territory.

Before I lose any of you who are put off by the idea of something “tourist-y,” I want to state up front that while Rothenburg is unquestionably tourist-y, it is the perfect marriage of a humble European village and a tourism operation. Rothenburg ob der Tauber absolutely oozes charm and really is the exemplar of a medieval European village, perfectly preserved and perfectly enthralling. We’ll circle back to that later in the post–I just wanted to paint a picture of Rothenburg ob der Tauber up front without losing anyone. Suffice to say, it absolutely belongs on everyone’s shortlist of places to visit in Germany.

Admittedly, our visit to Rothenburg ob der Tauber was rather cursory. We were in Munich for Oktoberfest, a scene of which we grew weary after a couple of days. Realizing we might not have a car on a future trip to Germany, we decided to call an impetuous audible, and made a day trip to Rothenburg.

Our day trip was about a 3-hour commute each way, leaving an insufficient amount of time to actually explore Rothenburg. So, if you’re reading this with an eye towards planning your own trip, our first morsel of advice would be to actually stay in Rothenburg.

Basically, the four things we did in Rothenburg ob der Tauber were shop, eat, climb the walls, and take photos. Lots and lots of photos.

As for dining, we had dinner at a place called Baumeisterhaus in the center of town. It was charming inside and packed to the gills with people (probably due to the location), but it wasn’t anything special. We also tried the Schneeball (“snowball cake”), which I thought was excellent. It was, essentially, a hardened ball of pastry with various “stuff” in it. Not everyone likes this, but as the regional specialty, I feel at least trying it is a “when in Rome…” kinda thing.

Here are some other things I think are worth highlighting about Rothenburg ob der Tauber…

Seemingly every restaurant, shop, and hotel has an ornate sign. I wish I would’ve focused more attention on getting closeup photos of these, because they were really cool.

We did the 1.5 mile loop through the preserved medieval wall, and highly recommend that. There were some points where it was a bit tight, but the views were spectacular and, at least when we did it at sunset, there were only a handful of other visitors up there.

There are a ton of hotels in Rothenburg. Since we didn’t stay here, I’m not too sure of pricing, but all of the ones we saw looked like they had a lot of charm. Based upon what we saw, there were a surplus of cute inns and hotels, and during the impulsive trip, we saw a ton of things we wished we could’ve done while we were there. Learn from our mistake and spend the night instead of doing a day-trip. (If anything, on a return visit, I’d debate whether to spend 1 or 2 nights there–probably one.)

This is a German cat. Exotic, right? Actually, I have nothing insightful to say about this cat. I don’t even remember why I took this photo of it.

St. Jakob’s Church is stunning. Definitely not to be missed.

In terms of the things we did not have the time to see, here are just a few of the highlights:

We saw the Night Watchman Tour in progress (and before that, we saw the tour guide walking by himself, which eerily resembled a scene from The Seventh Seal as it appeared Death himself was lurking in the shadows) and overheard part of the presentation while stationed beside my tripod to take photos. It sounded fascinating, and I’ve never heard anything but high praise for the tour.

In addition to doing that tour and the Crime & Punishment Museum, I’d also like to revisit Rothenburg for the Christmas Museum. If possible, I’d love visit around Christmas for its famed Christmas markets. European Christmas markets look incredible, and I think seeing those, along with the snow-covered mountains around Neuschwanstein Castle put December high on my list of times to visit Bavaria.

In our Third Man on the Matterhorn post, I broached the subject of how Zermatt blurs the line between a staged, themed environment and an authentic idyllic village. Rothenburg, Germany takes that a step further and feels like a time capsule of a bygone time. For a town to remain this “pure” in design over time isn’t just improbable, it’s impossible.

I have no doubt that Rothenburg has gone to great lengths to preserve its buildings to maintain a certain vibe and comport with tourist expectations about what an “authentic” European village looks and feels like. There’s no doubt that travel and tourism makes up a significant segment of the local economy, so of course it behooves Rothenburg to deliver what its visitors expect.

I find this particularly fascinating, especially since there’s nothing (necessarily) inauthentic about it. As best I can tell, this is an instance of preserving history, rather than concocting a facade that is ultimately hollow. Everything in Rothenburg seems to have a real history, and wasn’t just concocted for the sake of making the village a tourist attraction.

Perhaps architecture would’ve changed over time, and there is a certain kitsch-factor to it all, but what you see and experience is no less compelling. To the contrary, it feels like a very substantive experience, like a time capsule of authentic culture. The best comparison in the United States I can think of is Williamsburg, VA, if only the residents there had gone to greater lengths to preserve their history rather than recreating it.

Maybe this type of thing doesn’t interest anyone else, but I find it incredibly interesting. As someone who spends a lot of time fixating on the themed environments and entertainment of the Disney parks, it’s really fascinating for me. This is about as close as a ‘real world’ analog to a theme park could come while still maintaining a distinct aura of realism.

As noted above, Rothensburg does attract hordes of tourists. This could be off-putting for a lot of visitors looking for a hidden gem or quaint village away from the crowds. If that’s how you feel, I would still recommend visiting Rothenburg. It’s really that solid of a destination. However, instead of visiting during the middle of the day when the crowds are heavy, time your visit in the late afternoon and evening. Shops close early (I believe most were closed by 5 p.m. when we visited) but restaurants stay open late, and you can wander the streets anytime. We found that by 7 p.m., even during a fairly busy tourist time, the streets were virtually empty (aside from a crowd gathered for the Night Watchman Tour). This would be the perfect time to wander in solitude, soaking up the charm of Rothenburg ob der Tauber without the crowds.

Overall, I found Rothenburg ob der Tauber an incredibly photogenic, old world town that was more than worthy of its reputation. Like so many other popular tourist destinations, there’s a reason this attracts big crowds, and being overrun with people has the potential to spoil a place that is predicated on intimate charm, but nothing could spoil Rothenburg. This town is an absolute treasure, and a place I recommend without hesitation. We’ll definitely be back!


Where to Eat (and What to Eat!) in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Breakfast in Rural Germany is usually something like hard boiled eggs, different types of breads, jams, cold cut meats and some cut fruit.

Make sure to have one meal at Zur Höll, a medieval tavern that specializes in traditional German food also known to be one of the oldest buildings in Rothenburg. Zur Höll’s history apparently dates back to the 10th century!

Black Forest Cake is found everywhere! I liked to enjoy it after every meal. You know, to compare.

As soon as you enter the city and walk the streets, you’ll be inundated with Schneeball! A German pastry that translates to snowball, there are tons of flavors to choose from.

Make sure you try the traditional Schneeball with icing sugar, and then go crazy with different flavors!

Enjoy sampling the local schnapps varieties found at merchants throughout town.


Tips for Visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Markets

While I know Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the THE destinations for river cruises, I definitely suggest trying to make more than a day of it. This travel guide to Germany provides a lot of information on other towns you can visit in the area. With so many of the UNESCO World Heritage sites suffering from the problems associated with over tourism, it doesn’t mean that you should miss them. It does, however, mean that you should think about how to responsibly visit these places.

For me, that means that we will spend at least one night in a hotel. By spending at least one night, we get to enjoy the “heart of the melon.” This means that we get to see the “real” city after everyone leaves for the day. It was especially obvious when we were at the Rothenburg Christmas markets in the evenings. Further, we visit restaurants, support local businesses and markets, and spend money in the places we visit. This allows the place to benefit from the tourism.

When you visit a place and bring your own food, only take pictures, and don’t participate in the local economy, there is no money being circulated to support public works. Tour guides preserve the history of a place. Otherwise, it’s at risk of becoming a living museum. Beautiful to look at without much substance behind it. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is beautiful with a long, complex history behind it. Don’t forget to enjoy that, too.

If you’re looking for more information on Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Jordan has a great post on the Christmas Markets. Lorelei has a great post on the architecture and the history of the city.