The well-preserved medieval town of Rothenburg in Bavaria attracts more than its fair share of visitors, but at Christmas when the snow falls and the lights are switched on early to counter the short days, this remarkably attractive town can really be seen at its prettiest.
The unique wonder of this town with its fairytale silhouette is especially noticeable on those cold winter days, when silence falls with the snow over Rothenburg and the town radiates in a soft light.
The festive Advent period in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which means “Red fortress above the Tauber”, has been accompanied by a wonderful Christmas market since the 15th century.
“Besides a whole host of cultural events, it is the appearance of the “Rothenburg Reiterle” that represents the highlight of the Christmas market.”
The origins of the “Reiterle”, who gives the market its name, lie in the dim and distant past. This spectre was once thought to be an emissary from another world, who floated through the air with the souls of the dead during wintertime. However, over the centuries, the image of this mythical creature changed.
In years gone by, children used to fear his presence; now both children and adults look forward to his appearance, which is as much a part of the Reiterlesmarkt as the smell of roasted almonds, mulled wine and traditional German Christmas biscuits; as the sounds of Christmas and hand-crafted goodies in the decorated stalls.
The engaging Christmas scenery and the impressive sea of lights around the Town Hall and the market square are best enjoyed from the Town Hall Tower, which is open daily, sometimes even until 8 pm.
“But it is always the festive season in Rothenburg; the “German Christmas Museum” ensures as much.”
It describes the history of the Christmas festival using traditional Christmas tree decorations, light figures and Christmas pyramids.
With archaic, but attractive and well kept, buildings, winding alleys, a grand sense of the past, and beautiful views over the white rooftops and the scent of white mulled wine, this is how to envisage the most romantic time of the year.
Located about halfway between Frankfurt and Munich, Rothenburg is a town on, what is called, “the Romantic Road”.
Once there, leave the car, if that’s how you arrived, and see the town on foot. It is not a long walk, but there is so much interest that it can take a long time to negotiate.