Rothenburg ob der Tauber


Overview & Brief History

Widely considered one of the most attractive towns in Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber lies along the ‘Romantic Road’ tourist route. Picturesquely positioned along the River Tauber, the old city walls and towers have remained untouched since the Thirty Years War of 1618.


A Brief History

Founded in the 12th century, the town quickly became an important center for trade due to its strategic location along major trade routes. Its name, which translates to “Red Fortress above the Tauber,” reflects its defensive position overlooking the Tauber River.


During the Middle Ages, Rothenburg prospered as a Free Imperial City, enjoying self-governance and economic success. The town’s well-preserved medieval architecture, including half-timbered houses and fortified walls, attests to this period of affluence. In the 17th century, however, Rothenburg’s fortunes declined as it faced the consequences of the Thirty Years’ War and the changing dynamics of European trade.


In the 19th century, Rothenburg’s picturesque charm attracted attention, prompting efforts to preserve its medieval character. The town became a symbol of Germany’s cultural heritage and a popular destination for tourists seeking a journey back in time.


Today, Rothenburg ob der Tauber remains frozen in the charm of its medieval past, with landmarks like the iconic Plönlein, the medieval Crime and Punishment Museum, and the medieval Rothenburg Town Hall drawing visitors from around the world, making it a jewel in Germany’s historic landscape.

Things to See & Do

Walk The City Walls

A must-do while in Rothenburg is a walk around the Old Town walls. This fascinating and attractive walk is best started from the Spitaltor, a massive gatehouse built in the 1500s, and heading toward the equally stunning Rödertor, stopping along the way to enjoy the views. English guided tours are available of the town walls at the Visitor’s Center.

Town Hall

Dominating the town is the imposing Town Hall (Rathaus), one of the finest in southern Germany. The oldest part of this majestic building was constructed in the 13th century and you can climb the town hall’s tower to get a bird’s eye view of both the town and surrounding countryside.

Night Watchman Tour

This tour through the historic Old Town with its romantic alleyways and picturesque squares offers insight into different aspects and epochs of Rothenburg history. An absolute must do on any visit to Rothenburg if you’re into history and folklore.

Plönlein Street

Plönlein is the most photographed street in Germany and looks like something right out of a fairytale book. Literally translated as “Little Square,” it’s really nothing more than an intersection. Stand facing the tall, skinny half-timbered building dividing the two streets for the best photo op.

Local Dining

German cuisine

Traditional German food is often heavy and rich with meals including meat such as pork, beef, and poultry. Though there are many traditional dishes Germany is known for, each region has its own recipes with a great deal of diversity.


Our favorite place to eat…

Our favorite place to eat…

Dating back to circa 900, Zur Höll is the oldest and one of the most beautiful houses in Rothenburg. Meaning literally, to Hell, a warm welcome awaits as you may savour excellent wine (some of the best in Germany) and regional cooking in the old world atmosphere.

Insider Tips

The best place to stay if you’re planning a night in Rothenburg is inside the old city walls. As it’s a small, walkable city anywhere inside the walls is a good location and if you can get a spot with a lovely terrace with stunning views over the valley that’s an added bonus.

Virtual Tours

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Christmas Markets in Germany

Best Restaurant in Rothenburg

Jack’s Favorite Moment

Walking the Medieval City

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, and the most famous stop along the ‘Romantic Road’. The old Bavarian Imperial City is also widely considered one of the most attractive towns in Germany, with visitors flocking in from all over the world every year. The walls and buildings look much as they did in the 16th century with half-timbered houses and characteristic steeply pitched roofs along narrow stone-paved streets.

I visited Rothenburg in 2016 on a trip with some friends making my way from western Germany all the way down to southern Croatia. On that two week road trip we hit Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bosnia, and Croatia – Rothenburg definitely stood out as one of my favorites.

Keep Reading

The medieval city still has its fortified city walls completely in tact which means you can walk around the entire circuit. The thing to do for most visitors is simply to embrace the charm of the old town and walk along the old walls. I grew up in Missouri so my access to medieval walled cities was limited to say the least. Rothenburg hit me as an amazing piece of history but also brought out that little kid inside me who always wanted to explore castles and medieval fortifications. Running around the maze of fortified walls and the small narrow streets below transported me into some distance story that I read when I was a child. In all there are 42 gatehouses and towers, so be sure to allow enough time to see as many as possible along your own walking tour.


If you aren’t into walls and fortified structures as much as I am you will still love the town itself. The sheer charm of its buildings and narrow streets make for a lovely stroll, with the way their streets cross over each and intersect seemingly on purpose to create a unique picture like no other. One such street is the famous Plonlein Street. Literally translated as “Little Square,” this is really nothing more than an intersection inside the city walls. Skinny half-timbered buildings dividing the two streets, dating from the early 13th century. This is the most photographed street in Germany.


Rothenburg is awash with beautiful old churches, world class museums, castle gardens, and, architecturally interesting buildings. I spent about half the day here and wish I could have spent several days. It’s a great stopping point on the road to another destination but it’s also a major destination in its own right!


Jack Bauman

Founder of Guidester


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