Self Guided Walking Tour of Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber (with Maps!)
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During the Middle Ages, when Berlin and Munich were still small settlements, Rothenburg ob der Tauber stood as one of Germany’s largest and most significant towns due to its strategic location along the trade routes connecting northern and southern Europe. Today, it remains the country’s most remarkably preserved medieval walled town, captivating tourists from around the world while retaining its irresistible charm.
Top Tip: If you are staying the night here take the hour-long medieval entertainment with Hans Baumgartner, who operates the Night-watchman’s Tour. This friendly and funny guy carries one of the most popular tours in town, in the evenings from March to Christmas, with German and English versions. Wearing a black costume impersonating the original night-watchmen, he offers a unique version of the darkling town while driving you to the Middle Ages with his tales.
Arriving by Car: Best parking for the tour is outside the old town, Altstadt, on Bezoldweg.
Begin by heading towards the impressive Klingentor, a medieval gate that served as both a defensive structure and a water tower. Inside the bastion, you’ll find the fortified church of St. Wolfgang, dating back to the late 15th century and integrated into the town walls.
Location: Klingentor, Klingengasse, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
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St. Jakobs Kirche
Continue your stroll through the Altstadt, walking south along Klingengasse. The striking Lutheran parish church of St. Jakobs Kirche (St. James’s Church), with its Gothic architecture, awaits you. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore its interior, where you’ll find the renowned Heilig Blut Altar by the talented sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider. This intricately carved wooden masterpiece depicting the Last Supper is considered one of Riemenschneider’s finest works.
Location: St.Jakobskirche, Kirchplatz, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Read more about St. James's Church, Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg White Tower & Judentanzhaus
Leave the church and turn left onto Kirchplatz, then make your way to the 12th-century Weisser Turm which you will pass underneath.
As the highest point in the Altstadt, this “White Tower” is part of the original inner town wall. Next to it stands the half-timbered Judentanzhaus, a reminder of Rothenburg’s historical significance as a centre of Jewish culture during the Middle Ages.
The road you are now on is called Galgengasse, known as Gallows’ Lane, which leads to the Galgentor, the former town gallows. You will be turning off this, second right onto Paradeisgasse.
Location: Weißer Turm, Georgengasse, Rothenburg, Germany
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Rödertor Gate & Röderturm
The Rödertor Gate is undoubtedly the most picturesque entrance to the town, characterized by its two customs and watch huts adorned with pointed roofs. This well-preserved gate not only served as an entryway but also played a defensive role, allowing defenders to repel attackers from the side towers if they breached the outer bailey. The main tower, dating back to the 13th century, is the oldest part of the complex and holds great historical significance.
One of the highlights of the Rödertor Gate is the opportunity to climb the Röderturm tower, offering breath-taking views of the town and its surrounding walls. It’s worth noting that there is a small fee, usually around 2 euros, to access the tower. Among all the towers in Füssen, this is the only one open for climbing, providing a unique experience and a chance to gain a higher vantage point. From the top, you can truly appreciate the size and magnificence of the town walls, gaining a deeper understanding of their historical significance.
Location: Topplerweg 2, 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
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Turn right onto Pfarrgasse and then left onto Rödergasse. As you proceed, take in the picturesque cluster of buildings surrounding the Markusturm and Röderbogen, an ancient town gate and former prison constructed around 1200. At the end of Rödergasse, you’ll find the Röderturm (open daily from March to November and during the Christmas Market), the only town gate that can be climbed for panoramic views. Inside, there’s an exhibition detailing the bombing of Rothenburg during World War II, although little evidence of the destruction remains today.
Location: Markusturm u. Röderbogen, Rödergasse, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
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As you enter the square from the south you will pass the The Master Builder’s House (Baumeisterhaus)
Return to the Marktplatz, the central square, and admire the magnificent Rathaus. The town hall consists of two structures—the Renaissance building facing the Marktplatz, which dates back to the late 16th century, and the older Gothic structure behind it. To the right of the town hall, you’ll find the gabled Ratstrinkstube, or City Councillors’ Tavern, featuring a charming 17th-century clock. Every hour, mechanical figures emerge to depict the story of the Meistertrunk, a legendary drinking bet that saved the city during the Thirty Years’ War.
Location: Rathaus Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Markt, Rothenburg, Germany
Read more about Rothenburg Rathaus (Town Hall)
From the Markt, head downhill along Schmiedgasse to reach Plönlein, a picturesque corner that is often regarded as one of Rothenburg’s most iconic sights. This enchanting spot features a half-timbered house and a charming tower nestled between two gateways. It’s a perfect place to capture memorable photos and soak in the fairy-tale ambiance.
Location: Plönlein, Untere Schmiedgasse, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free
Read more about Plönlein: The "Little Square"
The Castle Gardens
The enchanting castle gardens, a must-visit destination to step away from the crowds of tourists. During the Middle Ages, this picturesque spot served as the original location of the Hohenstaufen family castle. I highly recommend exploring these gardens as they offer a truly breath-taking panoramic view of the entire town. From this vantage point, we even had a clear glimpse of Rothenburg’s festival grounds, adding to the charm of the experience.
As you wander through the gardens, you’ll also notice the magnificent Tauber Bridge. This historic bridge, believed to have been constructed around 1330, features a unique double design with two rows of arches. It served as an important trade route connecting Augsburg to Würzburg, exemplifying the historical significance of this remarkable structure.
Taking the time to appreciate the castle gardens and the Tauber Bridge allows you to immerse yourself in the rich history and beauty of the region. Whether you’re captivated by the sweeping views, the remnants of the Hohenstaufen castle, or the architectural marvel of the Tauber Bridge, this experience is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Location: Castle Garden, Alte Burg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Read more about The Burggarten (Castle Garden), Rothenburg
The Master Builder’s House (Baumeisterhaus)
Constructed in 1596 by Leonard Weidmann, a renowned local master builder and stonemason, the Master Builder’s House is a true gem. Today, this splendid mansion houses a restaurant and café, offering visitors a delightful culinary experience amidst its opulent interior. While the lavishness of the inside is certainly worth exploring, the true highlight of the Master Builder’s House lies in its magnificent facade.
Adorned with intricate details, the facade of the mansion is a sight to behold. One can’t help but be captivated by the statues of the seven virtues and the seven vices that grace its exterior, adding a touch of symbolism and artistic flair to the structure. This unique display invites contemplation and appreciation for the rich craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into its creation.
A fascinating aspect of the Master Builder’s House lies in its statues representing both virtues and vices, deliberately intertwined to reflect their coexistence in life. As you admire the facade, you’ll notice a captivating array of sculptures, each carrying its symbolic meaning. Let’s explore the statues in more detail: On the lower row, starting from the left, you’ll find Kindheartedness, depicted with a hand placed on the heart, followed by Gluttony, represented by a wine cup. Motherhood is portrayed with children, while Betrayal is symbolized by weight counterfeiters. The statue of Gentleness takes the form of a lamb, and Wisdom is embodied by two intertwined snakes. Lastly, Temperance/Moderation is depicted by the combination of a cup of wine and a cup of water. Moving to the upper row, you’ll encounter Stinginess represented by a money bag, Courage symbolized by a club, and Unchastity portrayed with a goat. Justice is depicted holding a sword, Pride/Vanity is represented by a mirror, and Falsity takes the form of a snake. Finally, Laziness is embodied by a snail.
The original sandstone statues, which beautifully showcase this juxtaposition of virtues and vices, are now displayed at the Imperial City Museum. To ensure their preservation, replicas have been put in place on the facade of the Master Builder’s House.
Location: Baumeisterhaus Inh. Dieter Neupert, Obere Schmiedgasse, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Read more about The Master Builder's House (Baumeisterhaus)
This two-hour walking tour offers a delightful journey through Rothenburg’s medieval streets, showcasing its well-preserved architecture, rich history, and captivating landmarks.
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