Rothenburg ob der Tauber.A striking medieval town-between roses and swards
Updated: Sep 30
Rothenburg on the river Tauber
From the city Lubeck to North-of Bavaria-Rothenburg on the river Tauber
I have arrived at Rothenburg on the river Tauber,on an incredibly hot summer day in Mid-August in the early afternoon. I have heard recently so much about this Medieval town. Pictures of a bright, picturesque city popped up in my phone on every occasion when I searched for recommendations for exceptional towns to visit in Germany,
There is a saying that the first impression is sometimes the most impassioned : beyond words or logic explanation.
The minute Rothenburg has revealed to me. It has captured straight away all of my senses. The luminous,vivid blue sky had emphasizes the exuberant colours of the remarkable half-timbered houses.
I was sliding inside a fairy tale's world where time has stopped.
"It was lazy summery noontime. Accurately as in a typical legend, Accompanied by Robert Nehr (the responsible of Rothenburg tourism- media).We entered a magic gate,used to be the Castle's gate to wander around in the resplendent gardens. One of the most fascinating treasures of Rothenburg. The stone wall protecting the town like an enormous fortress.
We were standing by the garden's edge wall bordered those inspiring gardens, contemplating the green valleys beneath. They looked so glowing in the daylight. In those valleys are planted many vineyards. You can drink delicious wine in Rothenburg. Trees and plants were planted only from the 16h 17th century. Before in the Middle Ages, they didn't exist because forests were for the enemies a possibility to hide," explained to me Robert.
Rothenburg has an enthralling history. I have heard exciting stories during my visite. How those cheerful, charming, half-timbered houses hiding layers of episodes knitted to one another.
" In this time of a year, the city jammed with tourists from all over the world. Lots of Japanese and Americans are fascinated by this preserved Middle ages town" I was informed.
Yes, I have arrived in the pic season. The beginning of August, but summer 2020, was not as you know, like any other typical summer.
So maybe it was pleasant in a way to explore a town not so crowded with tourists. It had allowed me to concentrate peacefully on the houses' cheery colours. Arranged harmoniously side by side, like pieces of jewelry exposed proudly to the viewer,shining in the sun.
There are cities where you need to go to a museum to learn their story. Rotenburg is an extensive museum. When you walk in the paved streets,and look around you comprehend why it is known as a fairy tale town. The lanes and alleys create a variegated picture. A slow-motion mood immersed me.
I loved walking in one of those narrow paths. Some of them ended with a fantastic golden fountain or an ancient square.
It is magical cause it seems taken from a dream, but the darkness is unavoidable. I have appreciated that Rothenburg,embraces dignifiedly its more obscure shades.
This medieval town was a central commercial center in the 14th century- a leading economic intersection. Merchants from France, Italy, up to the northern sea passed through Rotenburg and have exchanged their wares.
Market Square was the meeting point. It stays in a way the central place cause, during my stay, in those summer nights. Many people, tourists, and locals gathered there. They were sitting, on the pavement, having a beer, and enjoying the warm weather.
Everyone who visits Rotenburg appreciates being in a town that creates an atmosphere of the Middle Ages era so authentically.
Between roses and swards
The visit to the "Medieval Crime Museum" reminded me of the book I have once read,
"The Name of the Rose" By Umberto Eco. Suppose you feel like experiencing the haunted atmosphere of the Middle- Ages. Swards and frightening rituals of punishment .You should definitively go and check this Museum located in the heart of the town.
The Jewish soul of Rothenburg- The bond between Rothenburg and Jerusalem
Middle ages always evoke in our mind conflict between people over religion,brutal bladshead over different beliefs. Massive churches, diverse doctrines. Discreet Synagogues and Talmud rooms.
One of the most distinguished Churches in Rothenburg is Saint Jacob.It is enormous with a museum inside. Thanks to this important church,Rothenburg was called "Jerusalem of Franconia"(the region).However the spirit of the Holy City was revealed to me in another unexpected moment.
The exotic sculpture that mostly caught my eyes there was the gift from Tanzania. An original statue.
I have learned a great deal from the guide, Lothar Schmidt. Not only he has a lot of knowledge, and I could have tackled him with any question.(always he has an instructive answer)Lothar is specialised in the Jewish history of Rothenburg. he had created a brochure (An invitation to take a walk Jewish Rothenburg) that gives you a clear information about it. Available in a few languages,including in Hebrew. He is also a super friendly person.
We were walking in the once monastery and now serves a museum for both contemporary and permanent exhibitions. The building itself is so impressive and exceptional.
Rothenburg theme was: the picturesque and how it was view as such by many classic painters.
The other part of the museum is a glimpse into the Jewish life of the town's community.Gathering objects and ustensiles indicating the religious traditional customs. from the Middle-Ages.
Being in that ancient marble building has taken me all of a sudden to Jerusalem. Also due to the structure from the old stones. They kept the place cool from the heat outside,
Later, when we were strolling in the Jewishgasse (gasse in English -Alley). There lived mainly the Jewish community in the previous centuries.
The nerrow,long street looked like a prepared film set for a novel describing life in Jerusalem hundreds of years ago. Impeccable as if untouched.
It was Friday afternoon,around 2 pm and the sun was a blazing orange ball in the blue sky. There was no shelter. It was very quiet,I looked at the small old houses wondering, something must rise from those memories.
"Please wait for me next to the old Jewish cemetery. I parked my car pretty far. You can sit on a bench beside it," said Lothar.
Old love never dies
I was pretty much exhausted from the heat; suddenly, I notice a couple walking towards my direction, holding hands. The man has stopped and made photos of the entrance of the cemetery.
We started to talk.
"I am learning about the Jewish roots in Rothenburg.
I am half Jewish myself." Suddenly his voice stuffed with emotion. "You see, this is my wife. She speaks very little English. She is German, and I am Canadian. We met as teenagers. I was only 19. A soldier who was sent to Germany years ago to serve in Baden Baden. My wife back then was only 16 years old. We have fallen in love. But it was a forbidden love since she was too young and I was a Canadian soldier. When her parents have found out, they separated between us. I have given her this silver ring and asked her to wear it so she would never forget me. I have returned to Canada. We didn't keep in touch. Back then, in the early 70's, obviously there was no mobile or email.I didnt have her address. Time has passed, we were both married and have children, but not one day passed without thinking about her. I even have told my wife about her,that there is another woman graved in my heart—years of longing and wondering what if...
Two years ago, I found her in Facebook. There was not a single moment of hesitation.
I left everything in Canada and came to live with her in Germany. We are living in a village next to Freiburg. Nothing will tear us apart ever again."
His wife showed me her silver ring, and smiled tenderly.
After they left and I have visited the kapellenplatz in the Jewish district and learned about the transformations it was going through. There was built the first Synagogue, transformed later to a christian chapel, both destroyed and now serves a monument to the Jewish district.
Another symbolic square is The Rabbi Meir Garden- Named after Rabbi Meir Ben Baruch.
He was a famous Talmud teacher from the 13th century. Devoting his life to Talmud, admired by his disciples. He had lived in Rothenburg for almost 40 years.
It's a precious remembrance for Rothenberg's Jewish community's deportation during the Second world war.
It has left me thinking. The seeds buried in the ground had eventually became flowers, no matter how long it will take. Nature ends up healing the scarred land.
Down in the valleys and the Vineyards.
We were exploring the valleys. To get the sense of the depths and the surrounding of Rothenburg, the town on the river Tauber,is abundant with so much green. You have to walk down the hill. There will occur a few lovely surprises on your way.
I loved the traditional beer garden by the river. It's a meeting spot for many locals. I even had there a vegan hummus-carrots sandwich.many families were sitting on the benches ,chatting.
We continued the excursion and met later,on another spot by the river Mr Albert Thurauf, a Winemaker. Mr. Thurauf was behind a stand where he was selling his wines. Rothenburg is more renown for its white wine because of the grapes sort. I have asked if there is also a red wine to try. So yes, the Tauberschwartz and it tasted kind of similar to Cabernet Sauvignon! (one of my favorites French wines)
Later at night, we had dinner in his restaurant. Weingut Glocke. We had drunk more variety of his wines production that accompanied our tasty meal.
A reminder of France was not only by the wine's flavour, but also during our dinner Robert told me that former president François Mitterrand was a political captive during the Second World War. He managed to escape and was hiding in Rothenburg. Street Alter Keller 17-(photo taken by Robert Nehr.)
If we are taking about gastronomy in Rothenburg I recommend other two good restaurants. Am Platzl -an artisanal ,creatif food with surprising dishes and Altfrankische-Weinstube - very good wine and special salades.
The quaint Cafe einzigartig for the coffee lovers in beautiful Galgengasse (street)
Wine and Vineyards match so well with the summer, with high temperatures fused with wine, your soul embraces the adventures. I have joyfully discovered the house of a previous important mayor Heinrich Toppler- Toppler-Castle. Surrounded by the generous nature, it was pleasure to wander in this green, bloomy area. The place is gracefully furnished.
"You know, generally in those dates, we host a fantastic Rock Festival every year, it happens here on the valley's open stage. It's quite a well-known happening in Rothenburg with heavy metal, post punk bands performing during 3 days. It attracts many people from all over Germany.Canceled this year, obviously due to the sanitary restrictions .We will celebrate it next summer 2021" Lothar said and his eyes lightened with sparkles of hope. The sun for a moment, sneaked behind the clouds covering the sky with a mysterious fog.
Those clouds, however, were evaporated when I have reached Plonlein street- The most photographed street in Rothenberg. A recognizable stamp of the town.
Just seeing it from the horizon, you perceive how distinctive it is. The unusual mixture of the colours, as if it is glittering in gold. Especially in the sunset.
The last day,Sunday I strolled at my leisure in the town, finding streets that i didnt see before.They stunned me again with the vivacity of the colours. I did the walk on the walls surrounding Rothenburg. It was a good idea in the heat,the walk was very agreeable.It has allowed me to see the houses and also the interior gardens from another angle.
I was sitting in the beautiful garden of Burg Hotel. Where I stayed for four days. It was delightful to be at the Burg Hotel. From the outside as in the inside, decorated marvelously. Elegant and comfortable. I appreciated their Cafe and Restaurant located approximately. It has also a beautiful and artistic terrasse where you can totally relax. The hotel makes you live like the whole town, a romantic,nostalgic experience from another decade.
It was early evening, I was looking from the balcony's Burg Hotel garden on the valley below,embedded with so many secrets, listening to the warm wind's whispering, enveloped by the flower's inebriated scent...
Pictures credit-Niva Josef