Sunday, February 15, 2015

2014 Germany Trip - The Medieval Walls of Rothenburg

Location: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Itinerary and full experience of my visit to Germany can be accessed through the link below:

The most significant architecture of Rothenburg, and the first which visitors would feast their eyes upon, is the ring of walls surrounding the town. Once protective they now serve more as a historical artifact and for photo ops. The silent fortifications were still as sturdy when I saw them up close though I could imagine them losing their sheen of impressiveness with the passage of time. 

'Rodertor' - the red gate, most likely the first entrance visitors would encounter upon arriving from the direction of the train station.

A little stream flowing past

It used to provide entry for horse carts. Now it is for motorcars.

The exterior of the walls

A guardhouse maybe?

Double gate

Between heaven and earth

What lies beyond?

Once protective, now decorative

In times past, their purpose was to control the access into town, protecting it from various incursions albeit not always successful in this regard. It was in itself a miracle to survive World War II, which is to say relatively unscathed considering the state of most German towns. 

Lacking a war or any other danger, the walls were more decorative than protective. They nevertheless took their duty to heart, still standing tall above most buildings, watching them. In fact one of the highlight of visiting Rothenburg was my tour along the catwalks around the wall, allowing me a mostly undisturbed view of the town and its surroundings. Interspersed along the walls were arrow slits, and looking through them, I felt like a watchman guarding the town from intruder. 


To another world

Pointing up


A few towers were situated along the walls, providing staircases where I could choose to ascend to or descend from the catwalk. The bustle usually occurred near the center of the town, where the town square was, so I was spared from having to fight for walking space on the catwalks. Those walkways were not meant to accommodate a lot of visitors at the same time since they were built to be narrow, allowing only one abreast. Two persons could barely squeeze past, which I learnt when I try to move past a fellow tourist coming from the opposite direction. In the end I gave up and being the gentleman, I move to the closest wider section so that we both would not be stuck. 

Ascent or descent?

Three stories tall

Corner fortification

Heavy fortifications

Arrow slit

Touring along the walls provided opportunities for me to check out life along the protective boundaries. Some buildings were constructed right up to the walls, some not so much. I did find various cities’ names affixed to certain blocks, a peculiarity not lost on me. It was later in my post-visit researches that revealed the altruistic reason behind the names – these were cities which donated building materials to Rothenburg during its rebuilding years following the end of the last war. The town chose to commemorate the donors by immortalizing their names in the protective walls. 

Faded with age

From Osaka with love

I mostly stroll along the walkway like my imaginary guardsman, taking my time to enjoy the scenery. On one side of the town, the walls intersected with one of the town gates – Spital Bastion. The beefy structure reminded me of a squat tower surrounding a compound in itself. From the outside it was a rather impressive structure but going inside it was anything but. It was dark and uninviting, abandoned of course but if not for fellow visitors touring within, it would be a nice setting for a horror movie. The openings on the walls were few and far between since they were not mainly for viewing but were embrasures for cannon to fire through. 



Belly of the beast


Bastion inner ring

Balustrades within Spital Bastion

Tall ceilings

Cannon fire

Bridge to...?

On another section of the wall, I spied a relatively less visited part with an amphitheatre. The semicircular theater faced the walkway where I strolled, giving me an impression of an imaginary audience listening and cheering on my arrival. I wondered why such a photogenic amphitheatre being left out of virtually all travel articles. Hmph, more space for me to enjoy the quiet cheer of said phantom audience. 

To the pit


Facing the wall

I ascended and descended the walkway at intervals, not making a full circuit of the town through the walkways but I guess it was enough for me. It wasn’t that stressful to complete a circuit but it did require time to do so, so I opted only for a half complete circuit. I do hope I didn’t miss any other interesting buildings and sights, like the amphitheatre that most would miss if they did not stroll the walkway. Well, if I did miss any, it is too late now to cry over spoilt milk. I am happy enough with what I have spied anyway.

Life is serene within the walls...

Environment:          Medieval walls surrounding a medieval town
Suitable for:             History buffs
Visit worthiness:    8/10
Historical value:         5.0/5.0 
Architectural value:   4.0/5.0
Photographic value:   3.5/5.0
Landmark value:        4.0/5.0

Entrance Fee:                  free
Opening Hours:             anytime
Best Moment to Visit: anytime
Length of Visit:               1 - 2 hours

Website:                   -

Contact:                    -
E-mail:                      -
Address:                   -

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