The Romantic Road is a 350km-long route from the south to the centre of Germany, connecting all the historic old towns, fairytale castles and other quintessentially German destinations. For many, the Old Town at Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the highlight of the whole journey.
The town is surrounded by a tall stone wall, undamaged since it was first constructed in the 14th century. It’s hard to tell from the ground, but the walls were constructed in the outline of a man’s head in profile – an intriguing planning decision for the medieval townsfolk. To familiarise yourself with the quaint town within, start your visit with a 30-minute walk along these historic walls.
When you pass through the town gates, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve accidentally wandered onto the set of a film set depicting medieval Germany. The urban conservation rules in Rothenburg are extremely strict, so the quaint town looks much like it would have hundreds of years ago.
Make your way along the cobblestone lanes to the bustling Market Square. Arrive a few minutes to the hour to see the charming mechanical clock on the side of the former tavern. As the bells chime, the small doors open and mechanised characters tell the story of the Master Draught, in which the Mayor saves the town from destruction by drinking nearly four litres of wine in a single gulp.
Before heading off to explore the rest of the Old Town, climb the Town Hall tower. It’s about 200-steps to the top, but you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views across the roofs of the old houses to the beautiful Tauber river that borders the town.
The Christmas markets in Europe are a special treat, and in Rothenburg you don’t even have to wait until the festive season to enjoy them. Here you’ll find beautifully decorated Christmas markets that stay open all year round, so you can roast chestnuts and hear carols in all seasons. Treat yourself to a Schneeball (snowball), a delectable pastry made of sweet, fried dough dusted with icing sugar.
See Rothenburg for yourself as part of a 15-day Magnificent Europe River Cruise from $6820pp twin share. Book selected departures by November 30, 2016 and bonus flights are included. Visit RACQ Travel or contact one of our friendly travel consultants on 1300 096 166.