Today is a slightly varied schedule as we head out to Rothenberg Germany, a very popular place for tourists in this part of Germany. The town has well-preserved medieval structures and is a walled city. We depart the boat that will then move to Wurzburg where we will rejoin it at the end of our tour day. This is a full day excursion with lunch on our own. It is expected to be very cold with rain in the afternoon.
We are scheduled to depart at 9 am, but by 8:45 all but four passengers were aboard. One couple had decided not to go. The other couple appeared just before 9; they were not late, but it was still not fun for them to pass three buses of people who had all been waiting for them for 15 minutes.
We had a hour and a half bus ride on the Romantic Road named not for the love interest it inspires, but for the romantic style of art that came from this region. Parts of the drive were indeed lovely. We parked in the bus lot and then waited in the long line at the public toilets that cost 50 cents in Germany. Worst smell ever. I felt sorry for the guys, as the ladies had also commandeered their bathroom to ease the line.
We entered Rothenburg’s Hospital District through an opening in the outer wall. This district is outside the original city walls to maintain health. Visitors or returned residents had to be certified healthy before they could enter the city to protect against the plague and other diseases. Unfortunately, some were able to pay their way through this checkpoint, so it wasn’t a perfect system. Later an outer wall was added and the Hospital District was incorporated into the protected area of the city.
After passing through Sieberstum Gate (or Siebers Tower) we walked up Schmiedgasse (Smithy’s Lane), the street heading to the main square. We turned around for the view of the Plonlein, the street fork with Siebers Tower on the left and Kobolzell Gate/Tower on the right. This is the postcard shot of Rothenburg. We passed the Red Roter Hahn (red rooster) Restaurant, former home of Mayor Nusch who saved the town for Protestism by downing a gigantic tankard of ale in one gulp on a bet. (The play Meistertrunk is based on this legend). We had a couple of food stops along the way, sampling their famous sweet, the snowball and the local sausages.
We passed St. John’s church and the Medieval Crime Museum with displays of medieval tourture instruments and methods of punishment. Just before reaching the square, we saw the master builder’s house with its statuary display of the seven virtues and seven vices. The building has a wonderful inter courtyard that now houses a restaurant. The attached guesthouse is where Mrs. Topper tried to dig a tunnel to the prison dungeon to get her husband, Lord Mayor Topple out. Like in Salzburg, the stores maintain their wonderful iron signs displaying the type of business. Rothenberg is a shopper’s paradise and it was a little tough to stay with the tour group rather than veer off into a shop.
Reaching Marktplatz (Market Square), we were looking straight at the Councilmen’s Tavern. The structure features windows that open on the hour displaying the figures of the Meisertruck. Oddly, the figures don’t move to the edge or out of window, so they are very difficult to see. The town hall is just to the left of the City Councillors’ Tavern and behind it is old town hall (Gothic Town Hall) with its 60 meter tower; the prison entrance is just there. Part of the Christmas Market was in Marktplatz
Our meeting place is the fountain just off the square, Georgsbrunnen (St. George’s Fountain); access to the water sources were hidden so attackers could not cut off the city’s water supply. In Medieval times, the Gallows, pillory, and the hoisted cage were set up here. The Shepherds dance was held around the well to banish the plaque. This tradition is maintained today with the dance now being performed in the square. The fountain is also referred to as Herterichs’ Well. Just behind the well is the steep half-timbered gabled house built for Mayor Jasgstheimer in 1488.
Our tour ended at the well and we had several hours of free time. Boris went straight to the armament store and I passed the Historiengewolbe (historic archway) with dungeon access and headed down Herrngasse, the favorite residential street of the town nobility, towards the castle gardens and Franziskanerkirche, the Franciscan church. I first passed by the Herrenbrunnen (gentry well). Before entering the church, I went down a lane and saw the nativity scene in the church courtyards and had a nice view from the city wall.
The Franciscan church was simple, but notable for the preserved Lettner, a wooden division between the monk’s gallery (inside) and the sitting area for laymen (outer area where you enter the church). There is a beautiful carved main altar portraying the stigmatization of St. Francis of Assisi. I really liked the neat tombstones on the floors, walls, and pillars, often portraying the deceased in their medieval garb.
Boris was not at our meeting spot, so I tracked him down still at the armament store. He was finished, so I headed back to visit Kathe Wohlfahrt’s store and her world-famous Christmas products. These are her flagship stores with the company headed and started in Rothenburg. Boris informed me that the salesman told him that he was sure he was going to buy more until his wife showed up. I am sure that was true. As is, he ordered a cape, sword, and shield. I was just surprised he didn’t buy the chain mail.
We ended up on opposite sides of the fountain, not realized the other was there. About 15 minutes later and frustrated, we both decided to give up when we spotted each other. We decided to take a break for lunch back at the Red Rooster. Afterwards, we did a little shopping along Schmiedgasse included a Leyk store (Boris has developed a fondness for the small ceramic houses that tea lights are placed inside. We bought a few last year and added to our collection while in Rothenburg. Like Kathe Wohlfahrt, Leyk is headquartered in Rothenburg. I also bought a hat and scarf from a shop specializing in felt clothing, all made on the premises.
Returning to the square, our eventual meeting spot, we wandered around looking at the various Christmas Markets, eventually coming to the imposing St. Jacob’s Church. Access for inside visiting and photos was hard with the market stalls surrounding it. We didn’t find anything to buy in the Rothenburg Christmas Markets.