Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Earlier in the week we spent two nights in Rothenberg ob der Tauber, best known as one of the towns on the Romantic Road. The Romantic Road is about 220 miles of highway linking picturesque towns and castles between Würzburg and Füssen in southern Germany. It is loosely based on an old Roman trade route that connected central Germany with the southern area.

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Rothenberg is a well-preserved medieval town that draws thousands of tourists a year. The town square and area immediately surrounding it are the center of activity for day visitors and tour groups. Tour leaders wave flags or plastic flowers on sticks, to direct people to locations for photos. But if you take the time to wander through side streets and alleys away from the square the crowds quickly disappear. You begin to feel like you’re stepping back in time to a world of intricately carved wooden doors, overflowing flower boxes, and timber houses.  If you spend the night, shops close at 6:00 p.m. and after 7:00 p.m. the streets are nearlydeserted. But plenty of pubs and restaurants are open late to stop in for dinner or a beer, and if you’re there now, to watch World Cup soccer.

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I’ve been to Rothenburg before and have favorite spots. One is the walkway on top of the original wall surrounding the old town that dates back to the 11th century. Steep steps, located at most of the town gates, take you up to the covered walkway. There you can walk on stones worn smooth over hundreds of years. The 1.5 mile stroll lets you look out over the red tile rooftops, admire the beautiful church steeples and peak into backyards and beautiful gardens of residents. Along the way opening in the wall used for crossbows during medieval times, provide a glimpse of the town beyond the wall. Occasionally you’ll find a kitty sleeping in the sun, or pigeons roosting in shade. The one thing you don’t find are many tourists.

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