Friday, May 13, 2016

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Rothenburg in a fascinating village in south central Germany.  During the middle ages it was a booming trade city.  It was positioned at the crossroads of the north/south and east/west European trade routes.  This made it an ideal town for commerce and it flourished.  That was until the 1300s when the plague hit Europe and wiped out 40% of the population.  After that the trade routes shifted and Rothenburg didn't regain it's powerful and wealthy status.  Instead it was frozen in time.  During the final months of the war the German army set up a base in the town and the Americans were given orders to bomb the whole thing.  However, one American leader new of the historical significance of the village because his mother had visited it decades earlier and bought a painting of the village which hung in his boyhood home.  Instead of moving forward with the bombing of the town he contacted the commanding German officer who was actually a substitute for the real commander at the time, and offered a surrender deal.  Like all the other Germans he was given orders to never surrender, but he too understood the historical value of the village and he could see that the war was close to ending.  He agreed to the American's terms of surrender, going against his commanding officer, in order to spare the town.  Because of these two men only a portion of the city was bombed, about a third, and the rest of the original mid evil structures remain.  
Looking out from the garden just outside the city walls.  Let's face it, 
sometimes we are grumpy.  Tessa "hates" walking.  

Eating fresh pretzels from the local bakery.  Exploring the main square, town hall is on the left.

Everything is so German!  Delicious pretzels, orange roofs, practical German architecture, and Bavarian Easter egg decorations.  It was so fun to stroll through the village and look in all the shops.  We climbed to the top of the clock tower in the main square, took a tour with the night watchmen, and learned all about mid evil torture at the punishment museum.

Photo op with the Night Watchmen.  The Watchmen were an important part of the city.   Although their job was not prestigious, two steps above executioner and one above grave digger, they were nonetheless very much needed.  Seven guards would patrol the city all night.  They would close the gates and make sure no one entered, they would keep down any night time riffraff, and perhaps most importantly, sound the alarm in case of fire.  

Max, "We visited the museum of torture.  We got in and saw racks, spiky chairs, thumbscrews, and most of all lots of humiliation masks and stocks and shame necklaces, and lots of other nice trinkets.  We saw a witch catcher, iron maiden, and baker's swim.  Some things were pretty silly.  Like for example, if a baker made uneven bread he had to take a swim in a cage that was dunked in the pond. Or quarrelsome women were put in a violin stock together and a bad musician was put in a stoked with a contraption strapped to his fingers.  For murderes the wheel.  It was a wheel with a metal blunt axe lady on it.  They were beat to death and wrung in the spokes.  It was interesting and brutal."

Our last stop was to the wall around the edge of the old city.  After WWII the town was broke and much in ruins and they knew they needed to get tourism business going again so they petitioned the world for help.  They sent out news articles about pleas to past visitors asking for funds to help them get back on their feet.  In exchange they would sell them a piece of the old wall.  It worked.  Now the wall is inscribed with names of people who bought a section to help Rothenburg get back on their feet.  I'm so glad that they did, it was a super fun place to visit, we loved it!

March 22 - 23, 2016

1 comment:

  1. Loved Rothenburg!!!! So glad you did the night watchmen tour, he is great:)