The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
February 13 - Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ranks among Germany`s most frequented towns. It lies on a plateau at the intersection of the so-called ´Romantic Road` and the ´Castle Road` 425 m above sea level. Below the town flows the Tauber River in its 180 ft deep valley and this is the reason why the town has the additional ´ob` or ´above` the Tauber.

In the Middle Ages, when Frankfurt and Munich were just wide spots on the road, Rothenburg ob der Tauber was Germany's second-largest free imperial city, with a whopping population of 6,000. Today it's her best-preserved medieval walled town, enjoying tremendous tourist popularity without losing its charm. Get medievaled in Rothenburg.

During Rothenburg's heyday, from 1150 to 1400, it was the crossing point of two major trade routes: Tashkent–Paris and Hamburg–Venice. Today the great trade is tourism, which employs two-thirds of the townspeople. It also is supposed to have the best shopping in Germany ... and we did, in fact, find some interesting shops, although many were closed until after Easter.

The appeal, however, is still with the medieval splendor of the old town. We were surprised by the number of Japanese tourist groups in town, even though we were there in the very off season. The busiest months in Rothenburg are summer and December when the Christmas Market is in full swing. Spring and fall are great, but it is pretty bleak in February -- most locals are hibernating or on vacation.

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