Day 5: Rothenburg
Medieval Attractions and a Night Watchman Tour
Arrival in Rothenburg
We arrived in Rothenburg and were immediately struck by its charm. After getting an orientation to the town by our guide Jennifer, we went to St. Jacobs Church to see Tilman Riemenschneider’s Altar of the Holy Blood, the most beautiful wood carving in Germany featuring the Last Supper. Inside was also the Twelve Apostles Altar. The back was painted with multiple panels that detailed the legend of St. James.
The main square had a statue of St. George and the Dragon.
Backeries and Franconian Sausage
We stopped in a few backeries to see what delicious treats they had and eventually enjoyed a cappuccino, krapfen (powdered jelly doughnut) and some sort of chocolate pastry. Later, we stopped for a Franconian sausage sandwich, which was one of the best foods we had had yet! It was bursting with flavor.
Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum
The Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum was really fun. It showcased medieval torture devices that would apply pressure or spikes to specific body parts in order to get confessions. We also saw all types of shame masks and an executioner’s cloak and mask.
We learned that the executioner wore a mask because it supposedly protected him from being cursed by the person that was being killed. We also saw a real letter of indulgence.
Kathe Wolfhart Christmas Museum
The Kathe Wolfhart Christmas Museum showed the history of Christmas and how the various ornaments and traditions changed throughout time. We saw kugels (balls) and discovered that they come from apple glass ornaments to commemorate Adam and Eve. We learned that Santa originally had a black-faced scary many with him that dealt with bad children. Eventually, he was phased out because he was too horrifying.
We found out that not all of the wooden ornaments were handmade in Germany. Only specific ones with certain tags were. So, we ensured to get one that was traditional in this sense. Summer bought her dad a small castle puzzle and we got ourselves an advent calendar of Rothenburg.
We were on our own for dinner and so we stopped at Hotel Kloster-Stuble, which was recommended in the Rick Steves guide book. It has a traditional German setting with wood tables and candlelight.
Summer tried the Maultaschen, a ravioli stuffed with beef and spinach, which was not really that flavorful. Stephen had a bratwurst and sauerkraut, which was very delicious!
Summer also enjoyed a Silvaner wine, which is grown in Germany. She ordered one glass, but it also came with a small carafe for her to have one more, all for just 3.40 Euro! Stephen had a dark beer that came in a cool, thick mug style glass.
Dessert was to die for! It was one of the best have ever had in our lives. It came with a chocolate mousse, raspberry sorbet and fresh fruit.
The total bill was only 34 Euro and we could not believe it!
Night Watchman Tour
The much anticipated Night Watchman Tour definitely delivered on the hype. We luckily got our photo taken with him before the tour started because there was a huge mob of people surrounding him. He said that this was the most people he had ever had in the tour. He led us through the town and explained what life was like for people and what the Night Watchman’s duty was. He explained the 30 years war between Protestants and Catholics and the battle that took place. The Catholics occupied Rothenburg just after three days because a man that regulated the gun powder accidentally blew up the tower and the last of the powder. Luckily, only two people died, but it gave easy access for the Catholics, who only occupied the town for 3-4 months and then left.
The Night Watchman told us that during WWII the Nazis came and Americans were going to bomb Rothenburg, but a general remembered a picture of the town his moth kept at their house and he was so fascinated by it that he convinced the U.S. not to bomb it.
He also explained how the town saved itself economically afterward by selling name plaques on the surrounding wall. Eventually, tourism became more rampant which saved this small town from economic failure.
This was such a fun thing to do! The Night Watchman was a great storyteller and we felt like everyone was hanging on his every word.
Medieval Wall Walk
After the Night Watchman’s tour, we walked on top of the medieval wall that surrounds Rothenburg. It was fun to imagine what life was like in the town during medieval time and to see the landscape on the other side through lookout points.
We stayed at Hotel Gerberhaus. It was a very charming place to stay and the room was very spacious and nice. It had a lovely covered patio for people to relax, however we did not take advantage of it. The bathroom, like everyone so far, had its own hair dryer, which made packing one unnecessary.
The best part of this stay was the breakfast! The display of the numerous goodies and treats looked so good that no one in our tour wanted to disrupt it by going first 🙂 It was a breakfast to remember, for sure!