This ancient town is situated on a plateau 190 feet above the Tauber Valley. Traces of a settlement on this spot go back to the 10th century, to the castle built by the Counts of Rothenberg-Komburg around 970. In 1142 Rothenburg is first mentioned as a town. An earthquake destroyed it in 1356.
Under the Hohenstaufen Emperors the town developed rapidly; the broad Herrngasse ( where we are staying), the narrow side streets and lanes and the Market Square with its handsome timbered patrician houses date from this period. Battlements ringed the city already in 1200; four gate towers, two of them still standing, protected the entrance ways. Between 1300 and 1400 a number of fortified turrets were built on the ramparts and later connected by a wall which has been preserved almost intact to this day.
Rodertor was our gate of entry when walking from the train station.
In 1945 the city was victim of a bombing attack by the allied forces. The eastern part of the city was destroyed and a total of over 40% of the old buildings went up in flames. Generous financial support from all over the world enabled the destroyed areas to be restored. It is still protected by exemplary preservation laws.
Rothenburg is now a scene of massive stone walls studded with 42 towers; half-timbered houses with red-tiled roofs; cobble-stoned streets and flower filled window boxes – a most beautiful Medieval town.
Rothenburg was important in the past as a destination for Pilgrims, eager to see the precious relic at St. James Church (1340-1484) Tilman Riemenschneider’s Holy Blood Altar (1504) and a famous altar by Friedrich Herlin (1406) with magnificent stained glass windows behind. Every Saturday at 15:00 for one hour there is a free English Tour so I joined that this afternoon. It was freezing outside and even colder in the church.
Rothenburg today stands exactly as it did in the Middle Ages. Its towers and fortified gates, two and a half miles of battlements, magnificent houses and churches and the breath-taking views over the Tauber valley have made Rothenburg a veritable jewel in Germany.