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Germany’s Romantic Road  Deserves Its Title

Without a doubt, the best way to experience medieval Germany is via its Romantische Strasse or Romantic Road. The route is ideally located in southern Germany between Frankfurt and Munich, connecting a string of quaint, well-preserved walled towns dating back approximately 1,000 years. As an added bonus, the road passes through some of Germany’s most beautiful rural terrain. It’s no wonder that German’s have dubbed this route the Romantic Road. Join us on a quick tour of three favorite towns that we discovered on our most recent trip to the Rhineland.

Rothenburg

Rothenburg is the best known and loved of all the Romantic Road towns due to its authenticity, charm, and variety. Rothenburg is an excellent place to stay for a couple of nights in a B & B (zimmer), since the tourists disappear in the evening, leaving the town to its residents and a few visitors.

After you’ve settled into town, take a walk around the entire wall to get a real flavor for the medieval history. The 1-mile walk can be comfortably done within an hour, with lots of stops to take in the views. There are several stairways that allow access along the wall. Early morning or evening are good times to set out on a wall exploration. Besides the views of the town, you’ll also enjoy the views outside the wall of the Tauber River Valley.

The town of 6,000 residents is fairly quiet at night, but there are plenty of choices for dinner. We recommend a beerhall near the center of town, Zum Schmolzer. It’s a local favorite and serves excellent pork, beef, and sausage plates with first-rate sauerkraut and beer. After dinner you can take in the glockenspiel show (called Mesitertrunk) at the city hall (9 p.m. and 10 p.m.).

We stayed two nights in Rothenburg and enjoyed a full day of sites and shopping there. The most enthralling "don’t miss" sightseeing highlight was the Crime and Punishment Museum. It is bizarrely interesting to review the horrible law enforcement techniques utilized by the town’s rulers in the Middle Ages. Equally interesting is the set of laws governing the residents at that time. We both felt lucky to have missed living in that era. Another wonderful spot in Rothenburg is St. Jacob’s Church with its wood carvings by the German Michaelangelo, Riemenschneider.

A good way to experience the town and environs of Rothenburg is via bicycle. We were able to rent bikes at the train station just outside the town and tour the cobbled streets of Rothenburg and the nearby quiet village of Detwang. Don’t forget the shopping in Rothenburg. It is known as the best town for shopping in all of Germany, with a myriad of German handicrafts available. The most popular items include beer steins, wine glasses, prints, carvings, and Christmas ornaments.

Dinkelsbuhl

A smaller, almost cuter, version of Rothenburg can be found within the town walls of nearby Dinkelsbuhl. It is quieter, with less shopping, tourists, and sight-seeing, but is well worth the visit for its unique features. The perfectly preserved towers along the town wall are impressive, as is the original moat which is filled from the neighboring river. Dinkelsbuhl even contains a small hill with a pleasing variety of half-timbered homes along its streets and good views of the rest of the town. We found Dinkelsbuhl to be a good place to rent bicycles for touring, where we were able to enjoy most of its major sites within a half day visit.

Nordlingen

Nordlingen is another unique town along the Romantic Road. It lies at the center of a 30-mile meteor crater dating back more than a million years. The impressive Gothic church that stands at the center of Nordlingen is purported to be at the very center of the crater. The incredible views of the country side and the encircling walled town are well worth the 10-minute climb up the church’s tower.

Nordlingen is one of the largest of the Romantic Road towns and one of the most quiet. Its circling walls are original and extremely well preserved. Although there are not many tourists here, you’ll find a good variety of shops. The konditorei (cafe/bakery) near the city hall is a good spot to take in great views of the church and town square while enjoying a coffee and the excellent Bavarian pastries. During our two-night stay in Nordlingen, we enjoyed its ambiance and made an afternoon round-trip to Dinkelsbuhl via the convenient bus that connects the Romantic Road towns.

There are many other locations along Romantische Strasse worth discovering. Come discover our three favorites and some of your own on your next visit to Germany. Maps and other details are available via the link below.

Click here for details to plan your own trip to Germany’s Romantic Road.

                       Les and Rita Furnanz

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