Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rothenburg

Yesterday was a beautiful day here is southern Germany. We decided to venture out to an antique store about an hour away from us. We had a good time looking in the old barn that held tons of old cabinets, tables, trunks, chairs...you name it, they had it! I took a bunch of pictures of the items, including some old fashioned children's sleds and gigantic 150 year old wardrobes but we didn't purchase anything. Maybe next time. As we were leaving, we noticed that we were pretty close to Rothenburg, so we decided to drive a little further and visit.

This city is AMAZING. The entire city is surrounded by a huge stone wall with watch towers. Here is a description of Rothenburg's amazing city history taken from wikipedia.com.

"In 1274, Rothenburg became a
Free Imperial City and at the time one of the 20 largest cities of the Holy Roman Empire. The populaion was around 5,500 people within the city walls and another 14,000 in the 150 square miles (390 km²) of surrounding territory.
In October 1631 during the
Thirty Years' War, Catholic Count Tilly wanted to quarter his 40,000 troops in Protestant Lutheran Rothenburg. Rather than allow entrance, the town defended itself and intended to withstand a seige. However, Tilly's troops quickly deafeated Rothenburg, losing only 300 soldiers. After the winter they left the town poor and nearly empty, and in 1634, the Black Plague killed many more. Without any money or power, Rothenburg stopped growing and preserved its 17th century state.
Since 1803 the town has been a part of Bavaria.
Romanticism artists of the 1880s rediscovered Rothenburg, bringing tourism to the town. Laws were created to prevent major changes to the town.
In March 1945 in
World War II, Nazi soldiers were stationed in Rothenburg defending it. On March 31, bombs were dropped over Rothenburg by 16 planes killing 39 people and destroying 306 houses, six public buildings, nine watchtowers, and over 2,000 feet (610 m) of the wall. American John J. McCloy knew about the historic importance and beauty of Rothenburg, so he told though US Army General Jacob L. Devers that the bombing would stop it it was not used as a base. American troops occupied the town on April 17, 1945, and in November 1948 McCloy was named Honorable Protectorate of Rothenburg."

Since the city was spared from most of the heavy bombing and destruction from WWII, it is one of Germany's best preserved walled towns. It is one of Germany's largest tourist attractions. We saw Asian faces, heard American accents and all the shops spoke English. It was actually nice to not feel like such a foreigner. We spent a couple hours there, walking the cobblestone streets, admiring the shops window displays, hanging out in the town square and visiting some of the many, many stores. It is so hard to describe the "feel" of the town - it was full of visitors but did not feel overwhelming, there were restaurants and cafes that were open and had outdoor seating at small, round tables at the storefront in the market square. People were enjoying coffee, beer and light lunches while watching the horse drawn carriages that would pass by. People were mulling around, taking pictures of the streets and admiring the huge Rathus (Town Hall). Just to let you all know, if you plan on visiting us, we are taking you to Rothenburg. It is magical and I promise you will fall in love with the town. I found out that they have walking tours, guided by an English speaking guide dressed in character. They have walking tours at day and at night where the character is the "Night Watchman" and he tells more colorful stories about the city, the wars and battles it has been through, and says that when you walk through the streets at night you can still hear the cries in the city's walls from the Thirty Years War. I also discovered you can walk the city's wall - it is a 1.5 mile walk looking down on the city and out to the surrounding territories. We had a wonderful time there and I can't wait to go back. Maybe we'll even be lucky enough to spend a couple nights there, I heard it is near impossible to get hotel rooms (or zimmers) during the summer months but we will try. Enough of my rambling, here are our pictures from Rothenburg. Enjoy.

Part of the Old City WallMarket Street
Horse drawn carriage
Market Street again
Luke on Market Street
Posing with the Knight - medieval themes are pretty popular here
Luke is fascinated with the knight
The Rathus (Town Hall)
Under the Town Hall
On the steps of a museum
Inside the Kathe Wohlfarht Christmas museum - no cameras were allowed - oops! This is all we saw - we didn't pay the 4 euros to tour the whole museum and shop - there were stairs everywhere and Luke was in his stroller, content in his stroller, and he didn't want to release the beast so to speak. :) Next time we'll tour the place.

Inside the Kathe Wohlfarht Christmas store across the street from the museum
Window display of Kathe Wohlfahrt
Another window display
The Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas truckBrian and Luke in the Town Square
Walking down Market street on our way out of the city

4 comments:

Kelsey said...

I was there in seventh grade -- it is one of the places I most clearly remember visiting! I'm pretty sure we even bought Christmas ornaments in that very store!

Liz said...

hey kelsey! i'm sure your exchange rate was a lot better than ours is today! i wanted to buy pretty much everything i saw but with $1 being worth only .63 euros, it is hard to pay $15 for an ornament. :( what an amazing place though. i'll have to save up some serious dough for our next trip. :)

Alisha Lofgren said...

I remember when Ken and I went there. Seeing the pics brings back good memories. when we went, it was so cold! Neat town, huh?

Homefront Six said...

The Germans sure do know how to do Christmas don't they?? I would SO love to be stationed there. For now I will live vicariously through you!