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September 17, 2008

Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber

Filed under: Germany 2007, Travel — anotherheader @ 12:03 am

Rothenburg at dusk

Rothenburg at dusk

We set out for some more exploration of Rothenburg and the environs in the morning. We started with a climb up the tower of the Gothic Rathaus. The climb starts in one building on a beautiful stone spiral staircase and then transitions to another building and a climb that

Spiral staircase

Spiral staircase

starts with wooden steps and then becomes very steep, very narrow, and much more of a ladder than a staircase. There is a landing just below the top where you pay (something like a euro/pp). We’ve seen the payment at the top of the tower in many places on this visit. This is certainly not very American in style where you would be required to pay for the attempted climb at the bottom and would get no refund if you didn’t make it. With the payment at the top, if you die trying, at least your estate will not be out that additional euro.

The market

The market

Flowers in Detwang

Flowers in Detwang

At the payment landing, we waited for about 10 minutes as the people on the top squeezed through the narrow opening to wiggle their ways down particularly gnarly ladder to the payment landing (ladies, if you happen to visit and decide to wear a skirt, consider wearing clean underwear). It was amazing to watch the process of people descending from the top. Person after person kept appearing at the opening gap. There seemed no end to the people and no way that all the people were at the top. Just

It's Christmas year around at Kathe Wolfahrt

It's always Christmas at Kathe Wolfharts

when you sure there could be no other bodies, another, then another appeared. They must have been packed at the top like sardines. Eventually, the path cleared and we were able to mount the last steps and squeeze through the final gap into the bright sun. The view from the top was spectacular, though perhaps not as interesting as the process of getting to the top. As you circle the cupola at the top, you could clearly see the extent and layout of the town including a good view of how the town walls were laid out. It was also clear that we had much more to see in Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber.

Next, Becky wanted to see one of the earlier settlement areas of Rothenburg, Detwang, and its Romanesque Church built in 968. Dave was a little uncertain whether the 5 km round trip up and down the hill would be worth it, particularly with all the walking we had been doing, so Becky did what any clear thinking female would do. She offered to buy him a beer at the bottom.

After a rapid descent down the hill with Becky struggling to keep up, we found a small collection of houses and a quaint Romanesque Church. The interior of the church was closed for lunch which us to lead a hasty retreat to the local restaurant for beer underneath the trees. Becky paid.

Amongst the other sights we visited was a place where Christmas never stops—Kathe Wolfharts Christmas Store. This store, which now occupies parts of multiple buildings, has the widest array of Christmas “stuff” imaginable. Not gifts, per se, but decorations and schmuck, as the Germans might put it. Who would have thought that you could buy that many varieties of tree ornaments? It is an amazing collection and it is available year around. There’s also a Christmas Museum up stairs for the true holiday’s devotees. We passed on it. Bah humbug.

At the end of the day, we took the Night Watchman’s Tour. The town meets in the Market Square in front of the Rathaus. Georg, proprietor of a local souvenir store, dresses and plays the part of a Night Watchman. He gives an extremely popular and colorful tour of parts of the old town. Along the way, he explains the role of the Night Watchman, how the “facilities” of the city worked, and some of the history of Rothenburg. It was a very funny, very entertaining, and very informing tour. At the end of the tour, Georg collects his fee of 6 euros per adult. Given that there were more than a 100 adults on the tour and he also gives at least one additional tour in German that is even more popular, the Night Watchman Tour also appears to be quite lucrative.

The legend has is that Burgermeister Nusch (with the mug) saved Rothenburg by doing a tankard of wine in one gulp.

The legend has is that Burgermeister Nusch (with the mug) saved Rothenburg by doing a tankard of wine in one gulp.

While we waited for the tour to begin at 8 pm, we were able to see the see the town clock on the market square in action. The clock reenacts a legend of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber. In the legend, an invading commander threatening to take over the town offers a dare to the citizens of the town; if anyone in the town can drink a tankard of wine in one gulp, the town will be spared. No one stepped forward. Eventually, the burgermeister or mayor of the town took the dare, downed the tankard of wine, and saved the town from the invading forces. As legend has it, he slept for two days following his effort, or so it is said.

The tour with the Georg, The Nightwatchman

The tour with the Georg, The Nightwatchman

Taking the legend as inspiration, we headed to a local establishment and downed some beer ourselves. It appears that at least part of the invading tourist forces will depart the town and, in fact, Germany tomorrow, so perhaps there is some truth to the legend.

Pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/Rothenburg

Time for another

Time for another

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