Turrets, bay windows, lovingly restored half-timbered houses, but also splendid Renaissance house fronts characterize the Rothenburg picture and invite to take a leisurely walk through times long since gone. Even on crowded days it is hard to escape the medieval atmosphere. Buildings, town squares, but also churches of special architectural interest witness the creativity of the ancestors, historic stone walls tell old stories about emperors and kings, patricians and craftsmen guilds
St. Jacob: Rothenburg’s most prominent points of interest include: Gothic St. Jacob’s Church with its famous altar “Heilig-Blut” (Holy Blood) by Tilman Riemenschneider, the Town Hall, the fortifications with their parapet walks and last but not least the castle garden (Burggarten). Nonetheless, not only the grand attractions deserve attention – visitors may wish to stroll through the cobblestoned lanes and discover remains of an era long gone by, witnesses of the lifestyle of common people in the medieval era. One of the most picturesque spots in town: Plönlein – a street fork, one street leading up towards Sieberstor, the other down towards Kobolzeller Tor – and certainly one of the most enchanting medieval vistas to be found. Even in the early Hohenstaufen era, the most important street used to be Herrngasse, then leading from the castle towards Nuremberg. During the High Middle Ages it accommodated the cattle market; later on it was expanded into a rectangular square, the Market Square, center of ancient Rothenburg. With each building to be added there, the town demonstrated its ever increasing importance.
Town Hall: The impressive Town Hall comprises two parts – the Gothic main building with its tower, dating back to the era 1250 till 1400 and the Renaissance extension, added between 1572 and 1578. Finally, the front arcades were added as late as 1861. An atrium interconnects the buildings. The entryway shows a display of the old Rothenburg units of measurement, since Rothenburg, as any other Imperial Town of the time, had its own individual system of measurement units. The viewing balcony on the belfry offers a stunning view over the historical town
St. Jacob: Rather unostentatious in appearance, its slender steeples still tower over all other buildings. Built in the 14th and 15th century, the basilica was intended to serve as the town’s parish church, pilgrimage church and last but not least, home to the relic “Heilig-Blut”. (Holy Blood) Valuable art treasures and an imposing variety of art objects witness the churches importance to pilgrims. The biggest treasure: The altar “Heilig-Blut”. Created by Tilman Riemenschneider between 1499 and 1505, its wood carved scenes from the “Lord’s Supper” rank amongst the most impressive carving works. Also worth seeing: The “Zwölfboten” (Twelve Apostles)-altar by Friedrich Herlin. It depicts the oldest panorama of Rothenburg.
St. Wolfgang: Strong and proud on the outside, delicate on the inside. The solid Gothic church supports the fortifications at Klingentor. Its defensive character even shows up in the interior: Both, apse and registry are armed with crenels, and underneath it houses casemates and a dungeon. The churches main nave, though, impresses with late Gothic tracery. Also worth seeing: The altar of St. Wolfgang, St. Wendelin and St. Mary – all dating back to the times around 1500. Today the churches gatehouse is home to “Shepherds-Dance-Museum”, because the church was originally built by the shepherds’ guild between 1475 and 1493.
Other noteworthy buildings:
- The “Baumeisterhaus” in Obere Schmiedgasse is considered the most beautiful private house of the Renaissance era.
- The “Feuerleinserker” – Feuerleins-bay-window in Klingengasse, popular motif with innumerable photographers.
- Fleisch und Tanzhaus, built on the foundation of the old town hall. Together with Marienapotheke and St. Georges fountain it makes up a gorgeous ensemble. The Marienapotheke with its half-timbered front was once called “Jagstheimerhaus”. It was home to high-ranking guests like Emperor Maximilian I, also legendary Mayor Nusch used to live in the house.
- The Franciscan Church “Franziskanerkirche” was once established as a monastery church (1285).
- The Old Forge “Gerlachschmiede”, completely destroyed during World War II. After careful reconstruction it is now considered one of the most beautiful half-timbered houses in Rothenburg.
- The “Hegereiterhaus” – right in the middle of Spital courtyard – a captivating view with its pointed tent-like roof and the slender round turret.
- The hospice “Spital” with its Holy-Spirit-Church “Heilig-Geist-Kirche” was founded based upon a donation (1280). A peculiarity: The so called sacrament housing, dating back to 1390.
- The massive Horse Mill “Rossmühle” guaranteed the town’s supply with flour and cereals in case of emergency – namely when the watermills in the Tauber valley ceased work due to low water level. Today it houses a youth hostel.
- St. Peter and Paul, a short twenty minutes’ walk away from the historic center towards Detwang. Home to the Altar-of-the-Holy-Cross, “Heilig-Kreuz-Altar” which is being attributed to the workshop of Tilman Riemenschneider.
- The Staudt House, dating back to the 12th century, is the oldest house that remained unchanged throughout the centuries. A plain façade perfectly covers up the elegance of former bourgeois splendor.
- Famous Rothenburg Mayor Heinrich Toppler had the so called Toppler- Chateau “Toppler-Schlösschen” built in 1388. It served as both, a home, and with the moats flooded as a defence tower. 30 minutes’ walk from the castle garden.
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