Our first experience in the German town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber was during a medieval festival. That experience was all kinds of amazing, but we wanted to see what the town had to offer on an ordinary day. We had heard rumours about a wonderful night tour and so we set out again to the cutest and best medieval town in the world - Rothenburg ob der Tauber!
This time we happily left our younger two kids with a friend and we were ready to explore for an afternoon of Medieval learning and fun!
Here are 5 reasons why Rothenburg ob der Tauber is simply fantastic;
1. The Wall
A walk along Rothenburg's medieval fortress wall is totally cool. This well preserved 14th Century city wall surrounding the old town is 3.5 km long. We didn't walk the whole way as there are several on and off points available, but it was so fun to be with the kids in a real medieval town!
2. Medieval Torture Museum....??!!
Yep, there is a torture museum...gross. The Rothenburg Medieval Crime and Justice Museum is definitely a one-of-a-kind. I was way too squirmish for that particular experience, so I split off from Ross with my younger girls and he took Levi and a friend into the chambers of hell....mwahahaha!
They of course loved it and emerged with all kinds of gruesome stories about the horrible things they had seen. My husband returned laughing about something called a 'shame mask', used to punish gossiping or talkative women! ....very funny....NOT
Another favourite was this punishment for squabbling women, they were locked together until they could resolve their differences!
I seriously considered constructing one of these for our kids on our European road-trip, you know, just keeping up with the local customs...
Most horrifying was the discovery that back in Medieval Times people were most definitely not innocent until proven guilty. They were tortured and if they withstood the pain for a certain length of time then they were deemed to be innocent! Often people just plead guilty so that they didn't have to endure the barbaric way of proving their innocence.
3. The Christmas Museum ( Christmas Ikea overload! )
In the centre of the fairytale German town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Christmas comes alive every day of the year! This town is the home of the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village and the German Christmas Museum. Yep, that was definitely more my thing, endless christmas decorations in a adorable German village, yes please!
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, the Käthe Wohlfahrt was our yuletide dream come true, however, as I'm usually running late in my life, sadly this day was no exception and the museum was tragically closed by the time we got there...
This was a bit soul crushing but my two girls and I still thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Ikea style Christmas Village where there is a one way path that leads past every type of Christmas decoration imaginable, enticing and cajoling the innocent observer to suddenly, desperately need to purchase ridiculous quantities of Christmassy things.
Luckily for our budget I was all too aware that we were barely squeezing into our car as it was (and I had recently purchased a fabulous cuckoo clock that I pretty much had to cradle in my lap whilst we traversed all of Europe..) and so sadly, I didn't buy a lifetime supply of Christmas decorations as I would normally like to.
Hmmm, maybe I'll have to go back...
We particularly loved the German Christmas pyramids, they are hand crafted wooden windmills that spin from the heat of a candle. These beautiful decorations are thought to be the predecessors of the Christmas tree.
I am constantly lecturing my kids about not touching everything in shops, a common saying of mine is; "look with your eyes and not with your hands". This sounds like very responsible parenting, but it's not all that often successful, I tend to preach to deaf ears on this point. My little kiddies have great trouble resisting the enormous temptation of touching pretty shiny trinkets in foreign shops, and so these places tend to be a source of high stress.
I had just repeated my mantra about not touching everything in the Christmas store, when not 5 minutes in I proceeded to hypocritically 'look with my hands' at one of the large Christmas pyramids on display and knock off one of the branches! I slinked away sheepishly while enduring the relentless teasing of my girls who thought it was hilarious to continually admonish me to "stop breaking stuff Mum" and "stop touching stuff Mum".....'sigh'
4. Shopping for swords, shields, pikes and other such essentials... .and then eating like a warrior.
Rothenburg is a shoppers heaven if you're in the market for some medieval weapons. It's just what every traveller needs, a handy spear to threaten the kids with if they misbehave, lol.
We had a great time checking out the vast array of medieval weapons and treasures. I can personally attest to the customer service being excellent. My daughter bought a beautiful quill and ink set, and then over dinner discovered that a piece was missing. We ran back to the store and it was shut, she was very devastated as she had carefully selected this item for her hard earned money. Later that week I called the shop and explained the circumstances that we were travellers and had moved on and could not return, they happily sent out a new one!
If you're going to immerse yourself in all things medieval, you might as well eat like you're a knight on a quest. No salad with dressing on the side here, nope, instead you can help yourself to giant servings of meat and potatoes, potatoes and meat, and some bone hunks on the side. There was definitely no complaining from my kids, in fact, they still talk about this particular meal.
5. The Night Tour
The thing we had waited for, the famous night tour. It did not disappoint. In fact, we absolutely loved it, the tour guide was hilarious! He spoke with an amusing sing-song cadence to his voice that made everything funny, we were enthralled as we walked around the town in the evening dusk learning interesting and spooky stories about this fascinating part of the world.
Our expat friends had recently introduced us to our soon to be favourite travel guide - Rick Steves, who has a way of presenting information in such a fun but informative way. I love this Rick Steves video that gives a quick overview of some of the fantastic sights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Medieval German towns are simply wonderful, especially this one!