Rothenburg ob der Tauber (on the Tauber river) is a Bavarian village where it feels like time has stood still. Undamaged in WW2, this village is surrounded by an ancient wall punctuated with towers. The village embraces the German Christmas experience in a huge way. The head office of the famous Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas decoration company is even located in Rothenburg.
Of course it has a Christmas market, too. We visited in December, 2015 (which definitely makes this a #throwback posting) as part of our cruise with Viking on their Heart of Germany itinerary that traveled from Nuremberg to Frankfurt on the Main-Danube Canal and Main River. Tiny by comparison with the market in Nuremberg, it’s located in the town hall square:
Looming over the town hall square is the Ratstrinkstube (Councilor’s Tavern) Clock Tower, where two windows open on the hour during the day for a re-enactment of medieval Bürgermeister (mayor) Nusch (depicted on the right) saving the village from the invader Count Tilly (left) by meeting the challenge of drinking a 0.85 gallon tankard of wine in one draught.
If you look closely at the tower, you can see that the clock includes both the time on the bottom dial and the date in the middle — our visit was on December 19. The mechanical clock has a simple backup – the shadow on the blue and gold upper portion of the clock tower has a sun dial that is lined up with the correct time, though that does not appear to have a Daylight Savings Time adjustment.
Tourists flood into Rothenburg from all around the world. It seems like every tourist destination feels compelled to provide a signature novelty food item for its visitors. Nuremberg has its finger-sized sausages and gingerbread, while Amsterdam has stroopwafel and pickled herring. In Rothenburg, it’s no different.
The local claim to fame is the dessert known as Schneeballen (snowballs). Made up of strips of pie dough-like pastry rolled into a ball and deep-fried, to us Schneeballen are the pickled herring of the dessert world. They do look appetizing when they’re dressed up with chocolate, frosting, and nuts. Unfortunately, they really aren’t very good; they’re way too sweet with a lingering taste of tallow. Though Rothenburg natives and others may disagree with our harsh view, our take is that we’d rather not have Schneeballen crumbs dirtying up our traveling clothes. If you don’t trust us, you could still order some on-line as a “special treat” at your next holiday party.
We didn’t get a chance to try them, but I sure hope that the Wurstrigarren (“Sausage Cigars”) from Rothenburg are better tasting than Schneeballen.
Rothenburg may not match Prague’s “1000 Spires” but it does have its fair share of towers. You can also walk around Rothenburg at the top of the village wall.
The streets of the village are lively and lined with old, colorful buildings:
Leaving Rothenburg in the afternoon to return to our ship, our entourage exited through what is probably one of the most photographed and painted views of the village:
After Rothenburg, our trip continued on to Würzburg for a visit to the absolutely fabulous Residenz palace and a walk through — what else? — another Christmas market next to our ship. We lingered long enough to buy more Glühwein, of course, and to snag another pair of commemorative mugs.