Germany - Rothenburg ob der Tauber

by Kimp 22. December 2014 13:26


Christmas Activities
The way most Christians celebrate Christmas today, was invented by the German's. German's had been decorating the inside of their homes with winter scenes, long before Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. Once Christianity came to what is present day Germany, it was only natural to extend that practice intermixed with Christian themes.

Christmas Market (ChristKindlMarket - Christ Child Market)
German's have always enjoyed the outdoors's, and as such, they take their celebrations out of doors as well. Most German town's have a Christmas market, which is an outdoor festival with a nativity scene, festival food including Christmas Cookes and Gluhwein (hot spicey wine), seasonal items for sale, music and dancing as entertainment. 

These start around the last weekend in November and go through the entire month of December. Some of these markets have individualized themes as well, such as the Chocolate Market or Medieval Market.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber History
In Germany, any town that ends with burg means that there was fortress there at one time. Rothen means red, so Rothenburg means "Red Fortress". There were many red fortresses in Germany, "Rothenburg ob der Tauber" means the "Red Fortress above the Tauber river". That is important to note when putting it into your GPS. Otherwise, one might end up hundred's of kilometers away from there expected destination.

Today this town is significant, because it is Germany's best preserved Medieval town. The reason it was so well presevered has to do with the "30 years war". 

Before the 30 years war, Rothenburg ob der Tauber was a Free Imperialist City, within the Holy Roman Empire. It was a fairly strong town with lots of wealthy people and rather then trying to bring it into the Holy Roman Empire, knowing it would be difficult to control, the empire allowed it to remain free, so long as it paid a tax to the empire and honored the emperor. .The town outgrew is first fortress walls and had to expanded with a wall outside of the existing wall.

The thirty years war was the war between Catholics and Protestants. By this time, Rothenberg had adopted protestent luthern beliefs. In the winter of 1631, the head of the 40,000 troop Catholic Army wanted to house his troops in Rothenburg over the winter. The ciry of only 5,500 citizen's decided to defend itself rather then just let them take over. Rothenburg was quickly captured and taken over.

By the time the Spring came and the Army moved on, most of the citizen's had already moved away. This left the city nearly empty. In 1634 the Black Plague futher weakened the town's population to the point that it was virtualy abandoned. 

Rothenburg Today
Most of the visitor's are day tripper's, so finding cheap accommodations inside of the old walls is fairly easy. Plus staying the night is pretty nice, since most of the people leave by around 8 P.M.

The town is in about the same condition it was in,in1634 when it was abandoned, but the castle no longer exists. The castle was probably used as a source of cut stones for newer buildings. It is easier to use an existing stone, then it is to quarry and cut a new stone.

The medieval walls have been restored and it is possible to walk the same catwalks that the defending solder's would have walked. Several miles worth.

For a Medieval town, it's roads are very wide and have large fountains. That is a testament to the wealth that was once here. The widest streets are lined with mansions on both sides and the fountains provided both a good source of water for the town and to fight the fires that would have broken out while defending the town from outside forces.

It is the headquarters for Kathie Wohlfahrt - market leader in the area of traditional German Christmas items. They have two large stores within the town and also host the Weihnachtsmuseum (German Christmas Museum). I really liked the museum, because it captured the entire history of the celebration of Christmas. The only down side was touring it during the Christmas season. Both the entrance and exit for the museum are in the store.

I was feeling nauseous while waiting in line to enter the museum. By the time I got to the exit, I was hoping for some fresh air, but instead I was dumped into the middle of people shopping. The shopping area is in an old house that has lots of small rooms in it. It was like going through a maze to find the exit. To top that off, it was very crowded with shoppers, it was hot and the walking area was tight. The women in front of me was walking very slow and looking at everything and  there wasn't any room to get around here. The store supplies nice homemade looking basket's for the shoppers. There are lined with cloth and look well made. I was doing everything I could to keep from losing my stomach contents into that woman's basket and she was doing everything to promote it. Stopping abruptly and hogging the whole walk way. Like she was the only person in the whole place. If I had thrown up, it probably would have started a chain reaction, since it was tight and there wasn't much ventilation in there.

I finally, saw almost enough room for me to get by and nudged her out of the way as I passed. It was still several turns before I found the exit. I was really glad to get outside.

Rothenburg has both an old town tour and a night watchman's tour. Both are completely different and cover different topics. The night watchman was very comedic and  entertaining. I really enjoyed the night tour.

There is also a Medieval torture museum in Rothenburg. I didn't visit that, but when my sister and great niece came to visit last summer, we visited Rothenburg and they went to see it. They didn't stay very long, because it was freaking out my 15 year old great niece.

Lastly there is a sweet church with lots of excellent wood carvings in it. Rothenburg has lots of trees nearby and in Medieval times, the wealthy people commissioned wood carvings from people who were the masters of that craft in that day. These were very impressive to me.

Enjoy the pictures,
Craig     

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