Europe 2012: Day 77, Rothenburg


The famous postcard view of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

 Woke up at 6:30am.   Last night there was thunder and lightning so I am hoping that the heat wave has broken.  My DH tells me to “stop talking about the weather already!”

We have breakfast in the restaurant of the hotel.   It is the usual stuff — yummy pastries and breads, cold cuts and cheese, various cereals, and coffee and juice.  “Where is the fresh fruit?” my DH asks the waitress.   “Not today,” he is told.   He will just have to be happy with his hot chocolate and scrambled eggs.

The Breakfast Room.

After consulting TripAdvisor, we come up a list of things to do today — our one and only full day in Rothenburg.  We have a plan so off we go!

Our first stop is St. Jakops Church, famous for the Holy Blood altarpiece of the Würzburg wood carver Tilman Riemenschneider.  As expected, the church is huge and I can’t get a full picture of it in my camera frame.   Here are some pictures:

St. Jakops Church, (Rothenburg, Germany)

Unfortunately, there is some scaffolding in the way — I guess they have to clean the church sometime…

A better view of the Twelve Apostles Altar in St. Jakops Church.  Unfortunately, the doors were closed on our visit.  This altar contains various paintings depicting the life of the Twelve Apostles.  This one of the finest high altars in Germany. The excellent wood carvings are the work of Swabian master carvers.  It’s a big deal.

Opposite the altar is the organ in St. Jakops Chruch (Rothenburg, Germany). If you climb up the stairs behind the organ, you will see…

…the Holy Blood Altarpiece depicting the Last Supper. The altar includes scenes of the entry of Christ into Jerusalem (right wing), Lord’s Supper (shrine) with Judas as central figure, and the Mount of Olives (left wing). This relic is the “other big deal” in this church.

My DH just loves looking at stained glass windows and St. Jakops has very lovely ones.

I like stained glass windows too mostly for the dramatic effect they bring to the interior of the church. The key to taking a good picture of a window is to stay off to the side so not to flood the camera lens with light — thought you should know.

We also meet our Canadian friends at the church.   They are each snapping away with their large Canon 5D cameras as they pivot in each direction like baby birds in a nest looking for Mama.  I wonder, are they even looking at the church?   Like last night, they are a talkative couple and we enjoy their friendly nature. DH starts the conversation and we learn more about their truly whirlwind trip down the Romantic Road in Germany where they stay a night or two in some of the major towns, like Munich and Nurenburg.   They are leaving Rothenburg in a couple of hours and are trying their best to see all the major Rothenburg sights.   I feel tired and stressed just hearing about their schedule but this is what happens when you have jobs waiting for you back home.   My DH and I don’t, and that feels strange in its own way.

After the church, we head off to walk the wall that surrounds the city of Rothenburg.   There are supposed to be some good views of the city from these ramparts.   Must be true because I took enough pictures!   Here are a few:

Going to the “wall” (the ramparts that surround the city of Rothenburg, Germany).

Anna on the wall enjoying the views of Rothenburg, Germany.

Yep, the view are pretty darn good from up here!

Orange — what a brave color for a house! But it seems to be completely normal in Germany.

Timber houses and pine trees. I hear that Rothenburg is very pretty in the winter — all that snow…

Another photography tip — always look behind you, the view behind you can be just as interesting as the view ahead of you!

Time to leave the wall and do some shopping!

After the wall, we do some shopping and have some lunch at a gyro stand as I reconsider the purchase of an expensive Christmas Pyramid I saw yesterday at the Christmas store.   I decide against the purchase when I consider the number of art classes I could attend for the cost of  that one wonderful pyramid  — at least four.   I decide instead to buy these precious (yet inexpensive) Christmas tree decorations that are small enough to pack in my suitcase.  My DH praises my decision like he would praise a puppy for peeing outside.

Our lunch-time view!

They are so sweet!

Next, we go to the  The Crime and Punishment Musuem.   This is the only museum of law in the European area and it has the most impressive collection of the law documents and instrument of punishment there is.   We spend longer here than we expected going through the various exhibits that include instruments of torture, items used in the execution of sentences, costly books, graphic arts, documents of emperors, princes, the nobility and towns.   My pictures did not turn out as good as these pictures — whoever took these must have had a really good camera!

Entry to the Crime and Punishment Museum in Rothenburg, Germany. That cage is used to either dunk the criminal in water or roast him/her over a fire. Very welcoming, eh?

One of hundreds of “Shame Masks” that were used to punish citizens for any number of violations such as gossiping, telling lies, or just plain talking too much and too loud.

I found this interesting…. This is a sword with the “Wheel of St. Catherine” engraved on it. The “Wheel of St. Catherine” is found on the Roet family crest too (see Europe 2012: Day 7). St. Catherine was both a princess and a noted scholar, who became a Christian around the age of fourteen, and converted hundreds of people to Christianity. Catherine was put to death on the spiked breaking wheel, an instrument of torture. However, upon her torture, wheel was miraculously destroyed in response to her prayers and the spikes of the wheel killed her executioner. She was than beheaded. Anyway, many noble people adopted Catherine as their patron saint — like Sir Roet.

At 2pm, to decided to take the free Rothenburg Historical Walk.  The tour guide is good and in the three hours we learn quite a bit about Rothenburg and how the city is built.   Did you know that this Rothenburg (one on many in Germany) is named “Rothenburg ob der Tauber” meaning “Red fortress above the Tauber”? This Rothenburg is located on a plateau overlooking the Tauber River and refers to the red color of the roofs of the houses which overlook the river.  Interesting, eh?  Here are some picture from our tour:

Our tour starts here, at the Town Hall in the Main Square in Rothenburg, Germany.

Its a walking tour so we spend a lot of time walking down the streets…

…seeing lovely houses…

…looking at all the towers that flank the city (there are four of them)…

…this is the oldest tower…

…watching fellow tourists climb up to the rampart like ants up a hill…

…looking at the moat…

…going to through the enchanting castle gate to see the castle…

…that used to be here but it now gone…

…and all that remains is the view of the kingdom…

…and the little hamlet below….

…the castle was pretty big, or so we are told…

…only the courtyard walls remain now…

…we leave what-used-to-be-the-castle and head back into the city…

…and walk back to St. Jakops Church…

…to see a statue with no nipples because Lutherans are modest people…

…and return to the Town Hall — tour over!

Earlier, my DH did some research and found a nice restaurant for dinner called Spaetzle-Schwob.  We have a dickens of a time finding it because it is off the main drag on a quiet street!   Eventually we found it and took a table outside.    Here, the specialty is spaetzle with cheese and sausage with sauerkraut which is exactly what we ordered.  We also shared a beer.  Eventually, the wind picks up and we decide to head back to the hotel around 7pm.   However, we decide to walk down the pretty streets and look at the windows.

Our GPS is still useless in pedestrian mode.

So we wander….

…and look at the Christmas displays….

…and we wander some more….

…looking at incense smokers. MY DH loves these — but not enough to buy one.

We arrive back at the hotel around 8:30pm.   We need to prepare for our trip to Salzburg tomorrow — the train leaves at 9am.

Quote of the Day:  “We didn’t need the umbrella but I am glad I brought my sweater!”  — Anna not talking about the weather.

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