A visit to Rothenburg ob der Tauber's Christmas Markets
Where the magic happens in Bavaria
Rothenburg ob der Tauber was to be our 4th Christmas market destination out of 5, on our German Crimbo road trip.
A road trip gives you the independence and it also means we are not restricted on the memorable gifts you return with.
We have a bit of a soft spot for Kathe Wohlfahrt’s traditional decorations and as Rothenburg is the spiritual home we had to try and restrain ourselves.
Living in the southeast of the UK and we always choose to catch Le Shuttle, as the crossing only takes 35 minutes. Then from Calais where the shuttle disembarks, the open roads are yours to roam.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a wonderful, historic, town in the heart of Bavaria, it really is like stepping back into medieval times.
All the buildings are so well kept by their residence it is incredible, real pride is taken in thier appearance.
We arrived at Rothenburg on a cold misty evening, when the sun had gone down.
We turned into the main square and it felt like you had transported into a Christmas paradise.
There is a huge effort made throughout the whole town to celebrate this festive season, with building after building being adorned with lights and trees.
On the market
Rothenberg ob der Tauber is a fairly small town and the Reiterlesmarkt is respectfully in keeping with this. The main gathering of its traditional cabins is around Marktplatz, with a wonderful Christmas tree taking centre stage.
Around the base of its twinkling lights, a social area has been created to allow families and friends to gather and enjoy the spoils of the market.
Gazing down upon the market is the eye-catching Rathaus (Town hall) which has a combination of Renaissance and Gothic styles.
The Gothic section dates from 1250 and the Renaissance portion was constructed around 1572.
Although the Rathaus is the dominating structure in this square. The other wonderful buildings that encircle it are equally amazing.
Go with the flow
The evening we arrived was like a wintry fairy tale, with a soft blanket of mist floating over the town.
The markets here close a little earlier, at 7:00pm, than in the other towns & cities we had visited. However this gave us the opportunity to wander the streets, admire the window displays and find a quaint restaurant to end the evening.
From the Marktplatz the Christmas huts weave around to Gruner Markt.
Here you may be lucky enough to catch Santa playing the trumpet or enjoying the festive anthems on his wind-up music organ.
Around people of all ages are relishing the delicacies on the markets, from the staple bratwurst to the equally tasty flammbrot.
We even came across a curly sausage here, not dissimilar in look to the good old British Cumberland sausage (but I wasn’t going to mention that).
Follow your sense
As you stroll through Gruner Markt you are effortlessly drawn towards St Jakob’s church in Kirchplatz.
Here you are greeted with the alluring smell of roasted chestnuts and the lovely sight of the carousel swirling around.
I think before you are able to live here, an initiation process is carried out to find out how Christmassy you actually are.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t visit a Käthe Wohlfahrt shop, and as this medieval town is the mystical heart.
They certainly didn’t hold back on the glitter or the baubles.
They have 2 main stores in Herrngasse, and a few other smaller shops sprinkled around the town.
Something to make your travels easier?
A what!!…I here you say, yes a schneeball – a Franconian delicacy made of biscuit.
The pliable biscuit is rolled out and a cutter is used to make the strips, they are then delicately shaped into a ball and deep fried until golden brown.
There are many different variety of flavours added to the schneeball, chocolate, nuts, sugar and some are also stuffed.
Be warned they are very filling…
What makes Rothenburg ob der Tauber an amazing place to visit any time of year, is the wonderfully preserved ramparts and towers that envelope the city.
It is free to stroll all around the battlements and you are treated to some stunning views over the Bavarian countryside and also across the rooftop peaks of the town itself.
We were lucky enough to journey around this area previously on our Lakes and Lederhosens road trip.
There is a fantastic route that can be driven along, which is known as the Romantic Road and takes if some wonderful scenery.
Amazingly we still have the beer mat today.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
To the eagle eyed amongst you, this lovely town was also used in some scenes from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
It doubled as Vulgaria, where the Child- catcher lurked. His carriage can be seen outside the Medieval Crime & Justice Museum in the town.
When Caractacus Potts landed in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, it was next to the Tauberbrücke. The filmakers did adopt a little bit of artistic licence and merged the town with the Neuschwanstein Castle some 120miles (200km) away.
Where we stayed
The stunning views that we had over the Bavarian landscape once the mist had lifted, were amazing.
For our 2 nights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber we chose the Hotel Eisenhut, which is right in the heart of the town. So as soon as you walked out the hotel the door, the Christmas festivities started.
Our room was quaint, if slightly old fashioned, but very comfortable.
Just a few points to note;
If you wish to fly there are no direct flights from London. You will need to change in either Nuremberg or Stuttgart.
Dress warm and comfortable, this is essential it was cold in December.
You really need to book early as these markets are very popular.
As Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a very picturesque town, it does become very popular with day trippers. Although this means that the pace slows down nicely of an evening.
Germany’s Christmas markets are for all ages, don’t be put off that it is all for children, it really isn’t. We are all big kids at heart…..
Something for the Traveller
Inspired to visit Rothenberg ob der Tauber?
It is the place of Christmas dreams – it has an undeniable magic about it.
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