Time and circumstance have not always been kind to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, yet the outcome has been a delightful, living UNESCO site. The preserved town lies on Germany’s Romantic Road tourist route between Würzburg and Füssen.

 

I stayed there some years ago and am certain it hasn’t changed. How do I know? Because its unique character is protected by law. The town is a medieval time machine with myriad picture-perfect views.

 

Those early Franconians had an instinctive eye for beauty. One classic, for example, is Markusturm (Marcus Tower) and Röderbogen (Woodsman’s Arch) which were built around the year 1200 together with the first city wall. A customs house was erected beside the arch in 1264. It's now the Romantik Hotel Markusturm (with flower boxes).

 

The scene remains as reality and memories in countless photographs. Here's my view with a soft focus touch, taken from the Röderbrunnen (Woodsman’s Well) that was once used for baptisms.

Markusturm, Röderbogen, Romantik Hotel Markusturm

By 1356 the town had lost its 2 castles, either by earthquake or disrepair. What else could go wrong? For one, being on the wrong side in the Thirty Years War. According to legend, the Imperial Army’s General Tilly threatened to raze the town unless a resident of note could drink 6 (?) pints of the local wine which Tilly had been served as a bribe and enjoyed.

 

A former Burgomeister named Nusch downed the tankard in one draught, the town was saved, and the benefits of wine are still celebrated with various annual festivals.

 

But poor Rothenburg lapsed into obscurity for 200 years as trade routes passed it by. Rediscovered and protected since the 19th century as a medieval masterpiece, it has since become one of Germany’s tourism gems.

Buildings on the Marktplatz (Market Square), including Rathausturm (Town Hall Tower), Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
A pancake shingles roof window

For half a millenium the customs house served as a hostel which eventually emerged as the congenial Romantik Hotel Markusturm at Rödergasse 1. Four generations of the Berger family have hosted travellers at this historic location. The tradition continues with Stephan, Ilo and their daughter Lissy welcoming visitors from around the world to their link with antiquity.

Modern guest room, Romantik Hotel Marksturm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany
Replica medieval glass bathroom window and towels, Romantik Hotel Marksturm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany
Guest room antique bed, Romantik Hotel Marksturm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany
Modern guest room bathroom, Romantik Hotel Marksturm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

Ilo’s spirited greeting had my wife Lis and I feeling at home immediately. The décor and layout of each guest room is unique, though all have modern conveniences, Our windows opened onto picturesque Rödergasse (alley) and looked up at the squat Röder arch with its clock hands almost close enough to let me turn the burg back in time again.

 

We opted instead to walk the ramparts and witness the past while savouring the present, not least of which would be a traditional dinner in the hotel that evening.

A woman smiling at the camera
Hotel lobby
Dinner plate: a loin of Pork au gratin with gorgonzola sauce, potato pancakes and seasonal vegetables
Woman journaling a trip on her laptop

Full disclosurer: I was a guest of Hotel Markusturm while on a photo assignment for Romantik HotelsAll photos and text are mine without oversight by the hotel.

Location map for Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Medieval clock face

Text and Photos
© Gary Crallé 2022
All Rights Reserved