Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a small town with a big reputation. Nowhere else will you find such a wealth of original buildings dating from the Middle Ages. You can't help but ask yourself whether time has stood still, as you amble past the beautiful old houses, secluded squares and tucked-away corners of the old quarter, where towers, taverns and town gates alternate with fountains, fortifications and former storehouses.
But it could all have been so different ... in 1631, during the Thirty Years' War, Rothenburg was captured by General Tilly of the Catholic forces. In desperation, the councillors offered him wine in a tankard that could hold more than three litres. Tilly, who had intended to burn down the town, showed clemency and decreed that he would spare Rothenburg if anyone could empty the vessel in one steady chug. The former mayor came forward and to everyone's astonishment, met the challenge. Tilly was suitably impressed and let the town stand. Whether all of this is true nobody really knows, but it's undoubtedly a great story – and it also gives rise to the annual Meistertrunk festival, a historical spectacle with a focus on entertainment.
Germany's most beautiful road and Christmas all year round
Rothenburg may be small, but it has a remarkable wealth of historical sights, museums, churches, abbeys and monuments. Be sure to allow plenty of time for your visit. From Rothenburg, you can explore the Romantic Road , Germany's most famous and most beautiful scenic route. You can either travel towards Füssen and the Alps or towards Würzburg to the river Main. This is the Germany of fairytale fame with majestic castles, magnificent scenery and culinary delights fit for a king – the Romantic Road offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Back in Rothenburg, another nostalgic spot is the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village. The largest Christmas shop in Europe open all year round, it stocks everything that makes the festive season special, from candles, nutcrackers and decorative tablecloths to Germany's famous Christmas pyramids and incense burner figures.
Old quarters, beautiful churches and cosy inns
It is well worth strolling through Rothenburg's 'spital quarter', passing through the medieval town gates or visiting the wonderful churches. St. James' Church, for example, has a beautiful stone carving depicting Christ and the sleeping apostles. Also special is the beautifully decorated Church of St. Wolfgang at the Klingentor gate, dedicated to the patron saint of shepherds. But it doesn't really matter where you go in Rothenburg, new and wonderful sights arrive at every turn. And whichever you choose to visit, there is always a cosy inn waiting afterwards in which you can sate your hunger and quench your thirst.