The One with Rothenburg, Germany

Monday, September 9, 2013

***If you're looking for the American Crafts Blog Hop - click HERE!***
Last Saturday was one of those days that I wish I could get a do-over for. Start from the beginning. Rewind. So on and so forth. From naughty kids we almost gave up for adoption to using up our 15gb of internet data, all culminating in a car accident on the scary autobahn (you'll have to keep reading to get the nitty gritty details). But, even so, we still went on a fun adventure that needs documenting!
Today's destination: Rothenburg (not to be confused with Nuremberg or Regensburg)!
In the Middle Ages, when Frankfurt and Munich were just wide spots on the road, Rothenburg ob der Tauber was a "free imperial city" beholden only to the Holy Roman Emperor. With a whopping population of 6000, it was one of Germany's largest. Today, it's the country's best-preserved medieval walled town, enjoying tremendous tourist popularity (which we definitely got a taste of), without losing its charm. **Apparently we were there on one of the only two weekends a year they have a Medieval Festival - the Reichsstadt Festival which celebrates Rothenburg's history - no wonder it was so gosh dang dern busy!** During Rothenburg's heyday from 1150-1400 it was a strategic stop on the trade routes between northern and southern Europe. Today, the great trade is tourism: two-thirds of the townspeople are employed to serve you. While 2.5 million people visit each year, a mere 500,000 spend the night. There are several Rothenburgs in Germany, so we had to make sure we were going to Rothenburg ob der Tauber!
We arrived around 9:30am, parked our car in the P-1 lot, then used the free WC (because you usually have to PAY to use the potty) before venturing inside the walled city. Could this BE any more picturesque?!

I like to call this the "real" Leavenworth! It looks like a painting!
Orienting ourselves with Rick Steves' self-guided walking tour. And a mini door to get inside the city. Apparently you can bribe the night guard to go through it.

The Plönlein Tower.

We stopped and got a snack to boost our metabolism. We read about schneeballen (snowball in English, a pastry made from shortcrust pastry and covered in sugar or other sugary kinds of goodness) and I got a plain one before I saw all the different the varieties!

 Reminds me of caramel apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and how I always got the plain ones until Chris introduced me to the Apple Pie Apple and I haven't looked back since!

Market Square. The Councilors' Tavern is currently under construction, boo. But still a cool looking area.
Our first main stop was St. Jakob's Church.

Built in the 14th century, this church has been Lutheran since 1544. The interior was "purified" by Romantics in the 19th-century - cleaned of everything Baroque or not original and refitted in the Neo-Gothic style.

Up the stairs behind the pipe organ in the loft is the artistic highlight of Rothenburg and perhaps the most wonderful wood carving in all of Germany (or Chris thinks, the WORLD!): the glorious 500-year-old, 35-foot-high Altar of the Holy Blood. Tilman Riemenschneider, the Michelangelo of German woodcarvers, carved this from 1499-1504 to hold a precious rock-crystal capsule set in a cross that contains a scrap of tablecloth miraculously stained in the shape of a cross by a drop of communion wine. The altar is a realistic commotion, showing that Riemenschneider - while a High Gothic artist - was ahead of his time. Below, in the scene of the Last Supper, Jesus gives Judas a piece of bread, marking him as a traitor, while John lays his head on Christ's lap. Everything is portrayed exactly as described in the bible.

We noticed the attention to detail - down to the nails on the horseshoes. Chris was absolutely amazed and stunned by this. As was I. I wish I had taken more photos. Since the lighting wasn't quite right, here's a pic from the internet:
How do you even carve such detailed and ornate things from WOOD? Pretty incredible.

Protruding cornerstone - originally made to protect buildings from reckless horse carts. | Fox in a door in St. Jakob's Church.

Continuing on our walk, we passed many-a-flower.
Flowers flowers flowers everywhere I love love love them!
Vine covered building, be still my heart.

At the end of Klingengasse Street is an entrance to part of the wall that surrounds the city. We went up the old stairs for a nice view of the city.

Looking out to St. Jakob's Church. Notice the clay tile roofs. These "beaver tail" tiles became the standard after thatched roofs were outlawed to prevent fires. Today, all of the town's roofs are made of these. The little fences (far left, middle) keep the snow from falling and catch tiles that blow off during storms.
Rothenburg means Red Castle, hence their Coat of Arms is a red castle.

Not something you see everyday: a horse-drawn carriage prancing through town!
A real moat to keep out the bad guys! And some vines growing like crazy off the city wall.

It's just pretty. That's all.
We continued on our journey and went under the Burgtor Tower (the one on the right).

These cobblestone streets are no joke! We take Jane out of the stroller going over particularly bumpy parts like this so she doesn't get brain damage.

Outside the walls, looking in - I spy a Fox. | The cutest kids I've ever seen! Seriously, look at how they're looking at each other!

The Medieval town of Rothenburg. Too cool for words.
Fox and Jane. Fox and Jane. Fox and Jane. Despite being little Evil Knievels on this trip, these two are pretty cute together.

Next we went to the Castle Garden where the castle once stood - it was destroyed in the 14th century, unfortunately. I do love castles! The views of the lush Tauber River Valley below are... I can't even think of an adequate word, they're that spectacular.
Me'n'my kids sitting on the city wall above the Tauber River Valley.
It was fun to see so many townspeople in costumes. I felt sneaky taking this picture.

More pretty views that I just couldn't not include.

Exiting the gardens and entering back into the city. Notice the "pitch nose" mask - designed to pour boiling oil on anyone attacking.

A quick peek into the Franciscan Church.
Rothenberg is the headquarters of the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas trinkets empire. In Rothenburg, tourists flock to two Käthe Wohlfahrt stores across the street from one another. The Weihnachstdorf store is filled with enough twinkling lights (196,000 to be exact) to require a special electrical hookup. You're greeted by instant Christmas mood music. There is a Christmas Museum upstairs, but we didn't go. We just browsed quickly through the store before Fox could put his sticky hands on anything breakable and expensive.

Rothenburg's tallest spire is the Town Hall tower. At 200 feet, it stands atop the old Town Hall, a white, Gothic, 13-century building.
 For €2 I paid to climb the crazy 214, narrow and steep-AS stairs (I don't know how old people do it!) to the top!
Graffiti on every square inch. | Getting a sneak peek of the view that awaits.

The views at the top were sooooo worth it!
An amazing scene from every angle.
When I think of Germany and Europe, this is what I see in my mind's eye.
I tried to find Chris and the kids from up high, but was unsuccessful.
Kind of reminds me of the Painted Ladies houses in San Francisco.
Stunning. Breathtaking.
Back down the tower I was reunited with Chris and Co. and we found some currywurs, fries, and a brat for lunch.

We were entertained by the townsfolk all dressed up in their medieval gear and singing merry tunes while eating their lunch.
But don't just take my word for it, here's a video to prove it:

More pics from the day:

At this point, we'd been walking around for 3 1/2 hours. It was hot, it was crowded, and the kids were falling apart at the seams. Fox got a bad cut on his leg from a jagged stair step protruding into the road and cried louder and longer than I've ever heard. I swear he was about to throw up from crying so hard. So we headed back to the car, through the throngs of people swarming the city.
Had we known one of the only two festivals a year was going on, we would not have gone this particular Saturday.
As we were driving home, about an hour into our two hour trek, we were in the left lane of the three-lane autobahn. I was reading my Rick Steves' book when all the sudden Chris honks the horn repeatedly but to no avail. The car next to us just came right over into our lane and side swiped us, taking with it our mirror and lots of paint.

We pulled off to the side of the road and tried to communicate with the old trio of people, but they were German and didn't speak a lick of English. I found the phone number for the police in my Rick Steves' book and they took about 45 minutes to show up then another 45 minutes to square everything away. I stayed in the car with the kids while Chris sorted it all out. We weren't at fault so we didn't get a ticket or anything. It was just a cherry on top of a not supreme day and now we have to get our car fixed, somehow, somewhere, sometime soon before we're fined for a missing mirror.

I'll just remember this picture from the beginning of our day and how lovely it is. Maybe we can go back some day and sit here with a cuppa hot chocolate.


  1. Yeah, the kids weren't great and the car accident is a headache...but I'm still glad we went. The alterpiece was absolutely incredible and Rothenburg overall was an incredibly picturesque town. Oh, and currywurst is always bomb

  2. Glad you all weren't hurt in the accident!! I agree with Chris .. those wood carvings are pretty fabulous!! And loving the cute photos of the kids!!!!

  3. Aw, I remember reading about this town and really wanting to go! I guess another trip is soon in order ;)
    So sorry to hear about the car accident! Those are never fun! So glad to know that everyone was okay though! Keep us updated on how everything goes with that getting squared away!

  4. You guys should go back at Christmas will make you forget the bad trip I promise. Oh and check out the Medieval Crime Museum. It sounds creepy but it's really interesting!

  5. Wow! I am sorry kids/car wrecks put a damper on your trip, but the photos are totally divine :)

    We JUST got orders to Kaiserslatern for next summer, and I am a big ball of excitement and nerves. Thank you for documenting your journey in Germany - reading through your posts have helped me feel far more excited than nervous! Now that you guys have completed the move part of your tour over there, do you have any advice for a newbie? Despite being an Air Force family for four and a half years, this will be my first real PCS!

  6. Yikes, a car accident!! Glad you are all ok and that the damage to the car isn't too horrible.
    Rothenburg looks BEAUTIFUL, and I love those pictures of Fox and Jane together, even if they were being stinkers.
    What a beautiful day and place!! I can't believe the details in the wood carving--how do people even DO that??

  7. So glad you are okay and so happy that you take so many pictures to share with all of us! Love it!

  8. Beautiful photos of your day, Paige! Crappy on the wreck, though! :( I do love that gorgeous wood carving of Jesus and the disciples!

  9. I was in the very Rothenburg many years ago and I LOVE that town! I bought a hanging doc souvenir from that Thanks for taking the time to share your amazing photos! Fox and Jane are in the perfect age for scrapbooking (even though the parents said they didn't behave!!)!! I adore their photos! Take good care while driving on the Autobahn! PS: My family totally rely on Rick Steve's guide books. BTW I just visited the Painted Ladies in SF last week!

  10. So sorry about the car accident. That is stressful, but I'm glad you got to see that beautiful city. :)

  11. oh wow! AWESOME that you have some GORGEOUS pictures to remember a SPECIAL day! hoping that you get your car fixed soon!


Paige Taylor Evans © // Quinn Creatives DESIGN