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Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of my favorite places to visit in Germany. We usually make the effort to visit it whenever we go. It is small and very old, its fortified walls being its primary attraction to visitors. On the left, you can see the main square. The large building with the flags is the Rathaus (City Hall). You can't really see it, but the other building has a clock above the row of windows that has two portals on either side. This building is the Ratstrinkstube (officials' drinking hall). The two portals open at certain times of the day to depict the re-enactment of the Meistertrunk of the Thirty Years War - when Mayor Nusch drank in one draught approximately a gallon of beer and saved the city from destruction.

The thick walls and fortified towers of the city are very picturesque from outside the walls, but when you walk around or through them, you realize that they were built for protection. During the Middle Ages, cities that were unprotected did not last long. During its heyday (in the 13th-14th centuries) it was one of the largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire -- with only approximately 19,000 people (about 5,000 inside the walls and another 14,000 outside).

The narrow cobblestone streets remind you that you are in a medieval town. Although there are now cars and even buses make their way through the streets, cobblestones take their toll on your feet. Wear comfortable shoes if you are planning to traipse around old cities in Europe. The small shops, bakeries, galleries, and museums will keep you busy exploring for days on end -- if you have that long.

Don't forget to explore the outlying areas around the city, too. This small enclave in the valley beyond the walls has a pretty little church. There are many such little spots in the road (I hesitate to call them villages when there are only two or three houses, but they make for beautiful pictures).

I will miss my annual stop in Rothenburg this year. We have decided to go explore the castles along the Rhine this year. Since I haven't had the chance to do that before, I'm looking forward to it.

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