Medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Markt Square, Rothenberg ob de Tauber
Market set up in Rothenburg ob de Tauber's square

Restless night, the walls are thin and like Amsterdam, we can hear the movement and bodily functions from the neighbouring rooms. Marty opens the windows to let in fresh air, it gets stuffy in our funny little room under the roof. Breakfast is another feast, I explain to Marty that it may not be quite as substantial in Italy, they don’t ‘do’ breakfast like we do or like we’ve had in any of the European countries. Boiled eggs, cheese, meat, bread rolls, cheese spreads and cereal are laid out on two long buffet tables, it is hard to know where to start, we try to be healthy and at least have muesli and yoghurt. The coffee is not great, lots of milk and sugar are required for me to drink it.

Decorated easter eggs on display all over town
Decorated easter eggs on display all over town

It is only early, the air is still fresh and cool, the streets relatively empty of tourists, many locals are out walking their dog and stopping at bakeries to pick up fresh bread and pastries. We climb the steps of the tower near our hotel and walk along the walls, they’re not walkable everywhere, at times you walk on ground level and the towers are closed, the stone is cool to touch and the small holes spaced along the walls were once used to point weapons through in defense of the town. From our room and the wall the steeples of St Jacob’s Church can be seen, we’re content to explore the streets and not venture indoors until we locate the Medieval Criminal Law Museum. The museum opens at 11am, to fill in time we snack on tasty goodies from the bakery and take in the aroma of cooking sausages and deli meats at a local butcher shop. Lunch would be a cooked Franconian sausage on a fresh roll from the butchers, at only 2,50 euro it was a bargain and delicious to boot. Whilst waiting for the sausages to cook, we taste tested salami…yum! We ate lunch outside in the sun, we were in a great position to watch the locals go about their business and to see the other tourists making their way about the town, stopping to take photos of anything and everything (sound familiar?).

Patient dog waiting for his master outside the butcher shop
Patient dog waiting for his master outside the butcher shop

Europeans take their dogs everywhere, but apparently not into the butcher shop, a dear little dog sat waiting outside, shifting slightly every now and then until his (or her) master appeared. I imagine the smell must have been making his mouth water and hope that he got a tasty treat as reward for waiting patiently.

The Criminal Law Museum has a large collection of etchings, documents, punishment devices, seals and legal symbols from seven centuries of history. The barbaric and humiliating forms of punishment for immorality, gossip and drunkenness are beyond belief, it was not a good time to be alive.

Cage used for punishment at the Crime and Justice Museum
One of the medieval forms of torture or punishment

Common punishment for two women or a couple who were charged with being argumentative and always fighting was to bind them together using a device that looked like a portable stock, it was attached around each person’s neck and they had to wear it until they began behaving better towards each other. A woman who had sex before marriage had to wear head gear made of straw and could not get married in the traditional manner available to ‘good girls’. Outside the museum in the courtyard were stocks and wagons used for carting prisoners, hanging in the air was the cage that would have been used for prisoners condemned to be dunked.

Window display at the famous Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop
Window display at the famous Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop

Rothenburg has many bakeries and specialty shops selling ‘schneeballen’, fried pastries coated in sugar, cinnamon or chocolate. They’re a bit like crostoli in texture and taste, but rolled into a ball and the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee. We were still trying to find a coffee as good as that in Paris, a latte machiatto is not as good – too milky as you might expect however it was nicer than the hotel coffee. In addition to trying local food and drinks, our aim was to purchase Christmas decorations from the Christmas Village and have them shipped back to Australia to avoid carrying them and taking the risk of damaging them. Not sure if the lamp we bought will work in Australia, the voltage and power adapter is different, surely this can be fixed using a travel adapter (reverse of the one we had to buy to use our appliances in Europe) and if not it will still look pretty on display at Christmas time. I could have bought hundreds of dollars worth of decorations for our tree but the best ones were about 17 euro and it seemed a little extravagant, I did eventually purchase a nutcracker soldier as a typically Rothenburg souvenir.

Our favourite place to eat
Our favourite place to eat

Pork knuckle, schnitzel or sausage for dinner – big decisions, not lightly made J. The pork knuckle came with sauerkraut so I gave that a miss and we’d had sausages for lunch leaving schnitzel for Marty…again and I ordered boiled beef shank with horseradish cream, boiled taters and cranberries. My choice was a winner, Marty’s fries were delicious when dunked in the horseradish cream and his salad was equally as tasty. The waiter/owner seemed to enjoy the fact that we had returned for a second night, he told us jokes, recommended wines and at the end of the night brought out 2 complimentary glasses of ‘Franconian tap water’ some deadly sort of liqueur that had to be downed in one shot. I couldn’t drink it, the taste was disgusting to me, Marty downed both and instead I devoured a delectable apple strudel and vanilla ice cream dessert. Once back at the hotel Marty met Carlos, he was sitting alone outside the hotel and having a beer, Marty joined him for a couple of drinks and found out that Carlos was working in Rothenburg for the weekend and that he played in a band as well, the next day Marty gave Carlos a list of Australian songs that would rouse the interest of any Australian within hearing range.


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