Rothenburg is one of the most charming towns of Germany. Of all the interesting things to do in Rothenburg town what struck me most about this cute little town Rothenburg ob der Tauber is its old walls. Throughout the course of history, city walls have been constructed with the primary purpose of safeguarding against potential adversaries.
I find myself captivated by the story of city walls; their quiet, resolute eloquence – a language all their own, waiting to be deciphered by those willing to attune themselves to its subtle cadence. These steadfast guardians were meticulously crafted, driven by a singular mission: to shield precious civilizations from the looming spectre of danger.
These walls often took the form of imposing edifices, adorned with sentinel towers strategically positioned along their expanse. Certain walls were strategically erected upon elevated terrain, like the Kumbhalgarh Fort in Rajasthan India, thereby enhancing the challenge of invasion. Then there are city walls that stood sentinel along coastlines, acting as bulwarks shielding settlements from seaborne attackers or even marauding pirates.
With time the roles have changed. The same city walls that have been meticulously conserved serve as magnets for global tourists who come to meander through these enchanting medieval walled cities. The outer walls and towers that grace the Rothenburg town today trace their lineage all the way back to the 13th century. It's a captivating connection to the past – the venerable "White Tower" and the steadfast Markus Tower, crowned by the Röder Arch, have weathered the passage of time with remarkable resilience. The echoes of World War II resonate through these ancient stones. The skies over Rothenburg once rained down bombs that scarred the town, claiming around 32% of its homes and reducing nine watchtowers to rubble. Over 2,000 feet of the protective wall crumbled under the weight of destruction.
Fate, it seems, had a hand to play. The outer walls, like steadfast sentinels, held their ground against the devastation. As the dust settled, they stood firm, offering a foundation upon which to rebuild and restore. The walls of the city are made of stone and timber.
The reconstructed facades are discernible from the original medieval structures due to their simpler design. The intention behind the reconstruction was not to create exact replicas of the pre-existing edifices. Instead, the focus was on rebuilding in a manner consistent with the architectural style of the surviving buildings. Good in a way, as that ensured that the new structures harmoniously blend into the town's overarching aesthetic. To this day, there are donors in Rothenburg and from all over the world who give money to the preservation of the old quarter.
Today, Rothenburg's ancient district boasts an impressive array of 42 towers. These majestic sentinels are strategically positioned, gracing both the Rothenburg Wall and the fortifications, while also punctuating the entryways through the six grand gates into the heart of the city.
Once you step inside this storied quarter, amidst the cobblestone streets and timeworn architecture, you'll encounter the towers that once formed the bastions of the initial Rothenburg city wall. Each tower is a chapter in Rothenburg's tale!
The Tower Trail takes you along both the crest of the Rothenburg city wall tracing a brief path around its perimeter. Over the course of approximately 2.5 hours, this trail unfolds a comprehensive narrative of the city's intricate defence system.
As a photographer, I revelled in the opportunity to capture the distinctive subjects that studded the path. From the enchanting Gerlachschmiede to the mesmerizing vistas of the Tauber Valley as seen from the Spital quarter, each step along the four-kilometre trail unveiled unique frames.
The Tower Trail in Rothenburg Wall remains accessible at all hours, offering an inviting pedestrian route that encircles the historic city. The circuit is well-marked with informative plaques, each detailing the upcoming points of interest. Stairs at various points enable you to exit the passages on the city wall.
Height of the wall is nine meters but the length is 4 km. The height of the rampart roof is just 6 ft. (Tall people be warned!)
In case you are keen for more information ask for the brochure (available in both German and English) that sheds light on the entirety of the 22 featured stations.
Important sights along the trail are:
- Röderturm in the eastern part of the old quarter: A must-see stop offering a stunning view of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
- Röderturm exhibit: Showcasing the reconstruction of the eastern old city post-World War II destruction.
- The Rödertor is the only defense tower that visitors may climb to the top with tickets at 2 Euros.
- Donor plaques: Commemorative plaques along the Tower Trail's city wall, honouring generous contributors.
- The Wolfgang’s Church is another special location along the city wall.
- Look out for the Castle Garden and the magnificent view of the Tauber Valley.
This Rothenburg Germany wall is completely free to do activity, at your time and pace. For a more immersive experience take guided tours. The expert guides of the tours provide useful information on the history of the city wall and the meaning of the fortification system for the city.
Rothenburg is located 180 km from Frankfurt (nearest airport). You can reach Rothenburg easily by road and rail (Rothenburg ob der Tauber train station - nearest railway station).