Damon Cortesi's blog

Musings of an entrepreneur.

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber

| Comments

Since German does not have the th-sound (as in thin), the proper pronunciation of the first syllable of the name is more or less like English wrote, while -burg is similar to “buak.” Source: Wikipedia.

This town not only brings you back hundreds of years, but it makes you feel like a little kid at the same time. I don’t know too many children that don’t get excited by the idea of knights and castles and such imaginations run rampant while wandering the cobble-stone-lined streets of this town.

Take yourself back 500 years - the sleepy guard on the lookout tower right at dusk. Fog rolling over the German hills and seeping through the forest. A light registers in the distance, then two. Then five-thousand more crest the hill as you run to the tower bell and start alerting the forces. Imagine that you can feel all of that standing on the lookout tower in Rothenburg and the only difference is that the two lights are vehicles far in the distance and the five-thousand are a neighboring town turning their lights on as dusk settles over the countryside. Imagine being on lookout duty!

That’s the magic of this town.

But perhaps it was the fact that you enter through a small door in a 30-foot high wall into a town straight out of medieval times. Perhaps it was the way I walked forward, turned left, and saw a guard tower that I almost broke into a run to get to. Perhaps it was the darkened hallways of the castle walls that made me feel like a soldier stealthily bypassing the defenses of the town. Perhaps it’s the extent that one can explore this town, parts of which are from 1250, and it doesn’t feel like it’s been changed since its creation. Am I supposed to be in here?

Ultimately, it’s the weight of many generations of history that are readily apparent even to the casual observer. I’ve already mentioned the castle walls and the lookout tower for the little boy in all of us. But take a step into St. Jacob’s church and immediately you are humbled by the beauty of this creation for God. Two altars, carved by a famous wood carver are unspeakably amazing creations of art. Hours along could be spent gazing at the detail that has been painstakingly carved such as to nearly bring the scenes to life. Differences in architectural styles can be seen as you gaze upwards to the ribbed arches and you see how masons began to realize the strength of arches and widen the windows as a result. The High Altar (1466) and stained glass windows 56 ft. high. Altar of the Holy Blood

The Christmas Market is also a draw for many towns in Germany at this time of year, Rothenburg not excluded. Gluhwein (mulled wine) is an important stable of all these markets and I couldn’t help but grin as I stood there sipping my gluhwein listening to carolers in some distant corner of a building. Passersby could obviously see the child-like glint in my eye as more than one person gave me the smile that says “I can tell you’re having a great time, are completely content, and it’s so evident…I must smile with you”. Or they could have just been poking fun at an obviously out of place American. I forgot to mention I was carrying an umbrella with “Deutschland” written all over because I didn’t have one of my own and had to pick up one at one of the many touristy shops. A view down into the town square

I will admit, the city is very touristy, but that in no way diminished its charm or spectacle for me. If anything, the desire to maintain authenticity (iron signs still have to be approved to hang outside businesses, at least on one street) furthers the experience.

The Medieval Crime Museum was also fairly interesting - I didn’t quite realize how well-established the protocol for torture originally was. Again, as a child that was interested in crime, criminals and medieval times, this town and its associated history could easily have kept me preoccupied for more than the time I allowed myself. Shame mask

I also chose to drive to Rothenburg, approximately an hour-long drive from where I’m staying. Had it not been raining steadily, I probably would have been hanging my head out the window like a dog checking out the beautiful German countryside and quaint little towns. I admittedly did stop a couple times just because the architecture is so unique and intriguing to me. The German road system is fairly easy to follow if you’ve planned your trip out ahead of time and you don’t deviate too much. Another quaint little German town

Again, feel free to check out the photos on flickr of Rothenburg.