Rothenburg ob der tower is my favorite place in Germany. I have been here a couple of times over the last 20 years and I keep finding new and beautiful things every time I visit. We stayed over night on Friday and I wish we spent a few more days exploring the town.
A little history of the city, the name "Rothenburg ob der Tauber" is German for "Red castle above the Tauber (river)". The city itself was officially named in 1273 AD but the area has been colonized since 275 BC by the Celts. It has an amazing history of perseverance and historical value.
The Celts had colonized and started farmiming in 285 BC and were absorbed by the upcoming Germanic tribes around 1 AD, the area grew to a castle fortification built in 1070 AD by the Counts of Colburg. That began the city we know and love today.
From 1100 AD to about 1300, it grew again to the beginnings of the beautiful walled city you see today.
Before the 1200's ended, the ruling Hapsburgs made it an independent city able to print it's own money and begin growing into an influential city of trade and commerce.
The city continued to grow up to 5,000 people and built a trade route to other cities until the 30 year war began in October of 1631.
With the walls as a defense towards invaders, the Protestant city was able to defend against a 40K armed Catholic Army for three months. The invading Catholic General Tilly found an exploit by ordering his men to shoot flaming arrows into a tower storing gunpowder which led to a portion of the towns walls to finally collapse.
Many stories (what gets told to tourists...) are exaggerated about how the town survived over the centuries, but it wasn't a Mayor able to out drink the General or the ability to hold off 40K strong soldiers. It was overwhelmed by the forces and left for dead for 200 years as a ghost town.
In 1803, a German landscape painter Eugen Bracht painted his vision of the ideal beauty of a German city after visiting Rothenburg; it was recognized as a city worth saving and rebuilt and completed to reflect it's original looks by 1884.
As Nazi idealisms grew in the 1930's, the idea of the perfect German city began to reflect what Rothenburg was and it became romanticized as the perfect vision of the Nazi ideals in their views of a city.
This wasn't what the locals claimed for the city's fame but history is history and they own up to the bad parts of their town to which I give kudos to (own up to your good and bad).
The ideals of Arian perfection and a city meshed perfectly to describe what the artists and poets of the last 200 years mentioned when romanticizing this quaint German walled city.
March of 1945 changed the way Rothenburg looked with bombs from the Allied forces and ended up destroying 1/3 of the historical city to rubble.
The American brass, realized with the help of US Secretary John J. McCloy, that this was bigger than the war and pushed to keep the city from becoming a crator from US artillery and allowed to keep the historic city safe after the Nazis agreed to abandon the city and allow it to return to the original splendor of it's past.
Rothenburg was the beautiful town I reminisced about with Sarah, when we and our new born baby Daughter visited with Sarah's family 15 years earlier.