Ever since I started paying attention to the UNESCO World Heritage list I have been extremely baffled why the Bavarian town of Rothenburg does not appear on the list. It has long and illustrious history. It escaped destruction at several important junctures of Western history (and each of the stories of those escapes, however embellished, should be an envy of any locale in need of a colorful past). It is simply one of the best-preserved Medieval towns in all of Europe.
Although my sample size of UNESCO sites is still relatively small, only at 7% of the total, I can already name places on the list that I do not rate as high as Rothenburg. Yet, as far as I can tell, it does not even figure on the future candidates tentative lists. Something inexplicable is going on here.
We spent just a little bit over a day in town as part of our itinerary around Germany nearly a decade ago. It is compact and easily walkable, with a few key points of interest situated around the main square which is overseen by an imposing Rathaus. You likely can cover the cumulative length of all streets within the boundaries of old city walls in the matter of a couple of hours. Seeing a couple of museums and churches is optional. Partaking in the Night Watchman Tour after the fall of darkness is highly recommended, so plan to stay overnight.
This photograph is quintessential Rothenburg for me. One of the city towers guards over a street full of artisan and craftsman shop signs.
As I mentioned elsewhere in this blog, my childhood was infused with fairly tales (and later, more serious literature) set in medieval Europe, and Rothenburg hits the bulls-eye for me in terms of making those fairy-tale backgrounds come to life. In fact, I cannot think of another town with such a high concentration of emblematic shop signs as in Rothenburg. I find that quite delightful.
The other picture is a corner of Burggarten, an oasis of serenity high over river Tauber.
One of my favorite small towns, no question.