Settled In: 960 AD (Castles in 1080 & 1142)
Officially Founded: Free Imperial City in 1274 AD
Language: German, but basic English gets you by.
Suggested Stay: 2-3 Full Days with overnight stay
Sitting above the fertile Tauber River valley, the city of Rothenburg is a Medieval wonderland. Almost touched since the 1600s, the brightly colored, half-timber homes, narrow alleys, and intact city wall make Rothenburg one of Europe’s must see villages. You”ll love attending the shops, visiting the Christmas market, joining the Night Watchman on his duties, and touring the Medieval torture museum. We hope you enjoy our Rothenburg Germany travel guide!
Top Things To Do In Rothenburg:
2. Old Town Walking Tour
Read More: Top 10 Things To Do In Rothenburg
Historical Overview Of Rothenburg:
Early day Rothenburg saw a huge boost when an imperial castle was established here in 1142 by King Conrad III who live in the castle. Conrad, who had been the King of Italy, was the 1st King of Germany (reign 1138-1152) from the Hohenstaufen Dynasty, but died before he could be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. After the death of Friedrich, Duke of Rothenburg, the castle sits vacant, but the village around it grows. Gaining a ton of power with its location at the crossroads of two important trade routes, Rothenburg was further elevated to a Free Imperial City in 1274 by King Rudolf of the Habsburg Dynasty. The trade routes were the Castle Road going East to West from Prague to Paris and the Romantic Road running North and South from Rome to Stade. With its new found status, the city became one of the most important city states of the Middle Ages. While an earthquake in 1356 ruined the castle and damage the city wall, Rothenburg quickly recovered with even stronger fortifications. By 1400, Rothenburg grew to be one of the ten largest towns in the Holy Roman Empire with 6000 residents and 2nd largest in Germany.
During the 30 Years War in 1631, Lutheran Rothenburg was taken by the Catholic Count of Tilly who wanted to quarter his 40,000 troops. Tilly had been on the way to another cities, but bad storms forced him to go to Rothenburg instead. Legend has it that Count Tilly told the villagers that if anyone could drink a 3 liter tankard of wine in one drink he would take his troops and leave. Mayor Nusch took the challenge and saved the town by drinking it all in a single gulp, which today is celebrated as the so-called “Master Draught”. In reality the troops stayed through the Winter and left the city poor and depleted. In total, Rothenburg is occupied 7 times during the war. After the 30 Years War, the major regional trade routes changed and Rothenburg never recovered. Because of its lack of income, Rothenburg laid in hibernation persevered it for 200 years.
After Rothenburg in annexed into Bavaria in 1802, tourists start arriving to the picture perfect village. By 1880 preservation laws were quickly passed to prevent the city from modernizing. The Medieval time capsule attracted artists and tourists from all over Europe. It was the beauty of the city that ultimately saved it from being completely destroyed by American artillery in WW2. There was heavy damage from plane bombing, but thankfully it has been repaired through donations. Today Rothenburg is one of the most magical places on allowing you to step back in time.