What are the best Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights? The Plönlein should not be missing from any list!

29. April 2023 - Alexander Schmidt

25 Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber Sights You Must See


Action & Trips


Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the most worth seeing towns not only in Bavaria, but in all of Germany. The small Franconian town offers its visitors medieval idyll at its best. But what are the absolute musts? Here is a presentation of the top 25 Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights, presented by a temporary Rothenburger.

For travelers to Germany, there are a few absolutely must-see stops: Berlin, of course, the Rhine, Heidelberg, Neuschwanstein Castle… and certainly Rothenburg ob der Tauber must not be missing from the list! The small town has just 11,000 inhabitants, but every year about 2 million tourists come here to admire the splendor of the medieval old town.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a gem of medieval half-timbered architecture and as such world-famous. Especially in the USA and Japan, Rothenburg is known as the epitome of a German “picture book town”. But most visitors come from Germany itself, because Rothenburg is always worth a visit, whether as a day trip or for a long weekend.

Top 25 Rothenburg ob der Tauber Sights & Activities: Must-Sees and Insider Tips

I lived in Rothenburg myself for 5 years and always enjoy returning there. Which sights do you have to see? What are the real insider tips? And what else can you do in Rothenburg? Here I present you my top 25 Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights!

1. The Plönlein

"The Plönlein is one of the most picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights."

The Plönlein is the secret landmark of Rothenburg.

The most iconic and probably most photographed motif in Rothenburg is the so-called “Plönlein”, which means “little square”. The square is created by a fork in the road in Schmiedgasse, which, when viewed from it, offers a particularly picturesque ensemble with two towers and a beautifully half-timbered house rising up between them in the middle.

To the left, you go through the Siebersturm into the Spitalgasse, to the right, the Kobolzeller Steige leads steeply down to the Kobolzellerturm. Both alleys are lined with fabulous half-timbered houses. In front of the ocher-colored half-timbered house with a pointed gable roof in the middle of the fork in the road stands one of Rothenburg’s many old fountains.

The whole ensemble is so beautiful and coherent that it has become Rothenburg’s secret landmark, which can also be seen on numerous postcards and paintings that can be purchased in the many stores in the old town. Even Walt Disney was inspired by it: in the classic “Pinocchio” his hometown looks like Rothenburg and Master Gepetto lives directly at the Plönlein.

2. The Town Hall and the Northern Market Square

"The town hall is one of the top Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights."

The town hall of Rothenburg has a magnificent Renaissance wing.

The center of Rothenburg’s old town is the market square. On two sides it is bordered by large, magnificent buildings. On the west side stands the imposing town hall, which consists of two building parts. The east wing of the originally Gothic building from the 13th century burned down in 1501 and was replaced by a new part during the Renaissance, which was completed in 1578. The latter faces the market square and serves as the main building to this day. Large stone steps lead to the first floor, which is fronted by a baroque arcade, where tourists often sit to take a breather and admire the architecture of the surrounding half-timbered houses.

The white, Gothic west wing of the town hall is still emblazoned with the emperor’s and the town’s coats of arms on the gable. It is also particularly rewarding to climb the watchtower rising from it, from which you have a magnificent view of the old town and the Tauber Valley. This is possible for a small entrance fee in summer and on weekends in winter.

3. The Council Drinking Room

"The Ratstrinkstube is one of the most famous Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights."

The Ratstrinkstube is one of the most famous Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights.

At the north end of the market square stands the Ratstrinkstube, where the aldermen used to stop. Every hour on the hour, between 10:00 and 11:00, you can see how two wooden figures, controlled by a mechanical automat, come out of windows and re-enact the most famous scene from
Rothenburg’s town history, the legendary “Meistertrunk”. In the Thirty Years’ War, more precisely in 1631, the Protestant Rothenburg was taken by the Catholic General Tilly.

"Figures of the music box in the Ratstrinkstube in Rothenburg"

Council drinking room: every hour on the hour repeats the master drink.

According to legend, however, the town was spared destruction and plunder due to a bet Tilly made with the former mayor Nusch. To Tilly’s astonishment, Nusch managed to empty a glass tankard containing 3.25 liters of wine in one go. Regularly at Whitsun, Rothenburg hosts the Imperial Town Days, during which a dramatic adaptation of the “Meistertrunks” is performed.

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4. St. James Church with Riemenschneider Altar

"The Altar of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider is a unique work of carved art and a highlight when visiting St. James’s Church in Rothenburg ob der Tauber."

The Riemenschneider altar in St. James’s Church is a unique work of carving art.

In the Middle Ages, Rothenburg was located on one of the many St. James routes that pilgrims from all over Europe took to Santiago de Compostela. In order to provide space for the pilgrims, the construction of the town church of St. Jacob (1311-1484) was relatively large for a town of this size. The two towers of slightly different heights (about 55 and 58 m) tower over the city and are visible from afar. Another architectural feature of the Gothic building is a gateway that leads through the middle of the church or under it.

A visit to the Jakobskirche is always worthwhile: the ornate wooden pulpit, the colorful stained glass windows, the altar of the twelve messengers and the Rieger organ (one of the largest in Bavaria) are worth seeing in themselves. The real highlight, however, is the Altar of the Holy Blood, by probably the most talented woodcarver of the Middle Ages, Tilman Riemenschneider. This impressive carving depicts the Last Supper with an unusual twist: right in the middle is Judas, looking Jesus in the face.

5. The Castle Garden

"The castle garden is one of the top Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights."

The Burggarten is an idyllic oasis in the old town of Rothenburg.

One of the most idyllic places in the city and definitely one of the most beautiful Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights is the castle garden, which towers over the Tauber valley in the western corner of the old town. Here once stood a castle built by the Hohenstaufen king Konrad III, which, however, fell victim to an earthquake about 200 years later.

Today, the castle garden is a park from which one can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the southern side of the city. In the middle of the castle garden, which can be reached through the castle gate at the end of Herrengasse, there is also a small chapel built on the remains of a hall of the old castle. Behind the chapel there is a small sculpture garden with allegorical representations of the seasons and the four elements.

6. The Markusturm and Röderbogen

"The Markusturm with the Röderbogen is one of the most picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights."

The Markusturm with the Röderbogen is one of the most picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights.

The Markusturm with the Röderbogen spanning the Rödergasse, as well as the surrounding halftimbered houses together form one of the most popular photo motifs in Rothenburg. Both
Markusturm and Röderbogen were part of the first (later inner) city wall ring built around 1200. Right next to the archway is a small customs house from the 13th century, which has served as an inn for travelers for 500 years. In the meantime you can find here the “Romantik Hotel”.

7. The City Wall With Gates and Towers

"A walk on the city wall is a must for Rothenburg tourists!"

A walk on the city wall is very worthwhile.

Hardly anything characterizes the overall image of the city of Rothenburg as much as the many towers that are part of the inner or outer city wall. While only individual towers and gates remain from the inner city wall, the outer city wall still surrounds the old town today.

You can get to Rothenburg through five large gates in the wall: the Spitaltor, the Rödertor, the
Galgentor, the Klingentor and the Burgtor. Each of them is crowned by a tower. The tower of the Rödertor can also be climbed for a small fee. You can also walk along large parts of the city wall. A walk on the city wall definitely belongs to the Musts for visitors of the “Frankish Jerusalem”, as Rothenburg is sometimes called.

From the top you have such beautiful views of side streets and corners of the city, as well as wellmaintained private gardens. The fact that the wall, like large parts of the city, was destroyed by an air raid in 1945 and later rebuilt, can also be seen in the many plaques embedded in the wall from donors who made the reconstruction possible.

8. The Medieval Crime Museum

"A walk on the city wall is a must for Rothenburg tourists!"

A walk on the city wall is very worthwhile.

The Medieval Criminal Museum is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights, though possibly too creepy for some visitors. For in addition to legal manuscripts, seals and old prints depicting court proceedings, the exhibits here are mainly instruments of torture – from the infamous “Iron Maiden”, to the so-called “Diving Chair”.

You can also learn a lot about the witch hunt, the witch trials and the witch trials in early modern times. The crime museum is also housed in a historically important building, the old command of the Order of St. John.


Medieval Crime Museum
Burggasse 3-5
91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber

9. The Herrngasse

"In the Herrngasse you can find several Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights at once."

In the Herrngasse you can find several Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights at once.

The name basically says it all: in former days the lords of the city lived in Herrngasse. Accordingly, the patrician houses here are magnificent and it is one of the widest streets in the old town. Particularly noteworthy buildings in Herrngasse are the Hotel Eisenhut, the Staudthof, Käthe Wohlfahrts Christmas store and museum and the Franciscan Church.

The Hotel Eisenhut was opened in 1890 and is Rothenburg’s most traditional hotel, where numerous prominent people have resided, such as Heinz Rühmann, Erich Kästner, Winston Churchill, Willy Brandt and many more.

The Staudthof is the oldest preserved patrician courtyard in the city and comprises a three-story building with a large courtyard in which two ancient yew trees stand. The courtyard, the threshing floor and the historic kitchen of the Staudthof can be visited.

10. Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christkindlmarkt and Christmas Museum

Käthe Wohlfahrts Christkindlmarkt and the associated Christmas museum deserve to be listed as an attraction in their own right. As a visitor, you can immerse yourself in a world where Christmas is all year round, even in midsummer.

The Christkindlmarkt is probably the world’s largest store for traditional Christmas decorations, from Christmas tree baubles to candles, incense burners, nativity scenes and nutcrackers to angels and straw stars. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, it’s worth taking a look at the store, where eagerly waving stuffed animals greet you, Christmas carols play and, after a few steps, the view of a huge Erzgebirge pyramid opens up.

If you want, you can then visit the Christmas Museum to learn even more about the history of the origins of Christmas traditions in the various regions of Germany, as well as about Christmas decorating craft traditions such as woodcarving and glassblowing.


Käthe Wohlfahrt Christkindlmarkt
Herrngasse 2
91541 Rothenburg ob der TauberPhone: +49 (0) 9861-40 90
Fax: +49 (0) 9861-40 94 10
Email: [email protected]

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11. The Southern Market Place: Meat House, Jagstheimer House and St. George’s Fountain

At the southern end of the market square, the old Fleischhaus, the Jagstheimerhaus and the magnificent St. George’s Fountain form one of Rothenburg’s most beautiful building ensembles. The Fleischhaus, also known as the Gewerbehalle, is home to the Rothenburg Artists’ Association, whose permanent exhibition can be viewed here. In the Jagstheimerhaus with its pretty oriel tower is the traditional Marienapotheke.

The St. Georgsbrunnen, also called Herterichsbrunnen is with a depth of 8 m and a capacity of 100,000 liters the largest well in Rothenburg. Built in 1446, it was the most important source of drinking water for the town’s population in earlier times. Since 1608, the fountain has been crowned by an ornate column on which St. George defeats the dragon.

12. The Fountains of Rothenburg

"In Rothenburg ob der Tauber there are many beautiful old fountains."

The fountains of Rothenburg are particularly beautiful and versatile.

In general, the fountains of the city are already in themselves real Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights.
Besides the Georgsbrunnen, the Johannisbrunnen, the Herrenbrunnen, the Röderbrunnen, the Seelbrunnen, the Plönleinbrunnen, the Schwarzadler-Brunnen, the Brokkoli-Brunnen and the Wandbrunnen at the Markusturm can be admired.

Each of these fountains has its own charm, and they make great subjects for a photo scavenger hunt through Rothenburg along the lines of “Who takes the most beautiful fountain photo?”

13. The Tauber Bridge

"The Tauber Bridge, also called the Double Bridge, is one of the most important Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights."

The Tauber Bridge was very important for Rothenburg in the Middle Ages.

The Tauber Bridge, popularly known as the Double Bridge, is a medieval stone bridge that spans the Tauber River southwest of the Old Town. It is an imposing 126 meters long and was of great importance to the city in the Middle Ages, as it was located on the trade route between Würzburg and Augsburg and, as a toll bridge, was one of Rothenburg’s most important sources of income.

Unfortunately, it was blown up in the 2nd World War, but in the 1950s it was rebuilt true to the original. From here you also have a fabulous view of the old town above.

14. The Lovely Tauber Valley

"A trip to Tauber Valley is definitely one of the top 25 Rothenburg ob der Tauber attractions."

The view of the city alone makes a trip to the Tauber Valley worthwhile.

The Tauber Valley is a paradise for cyclists and hikers, as well as for wine lovers. It is not for nothing that the fertile hilly landscape between the Frankenhöhe, where the Tauber rises, and Wertheim, where it flows into the Main, is called the “Lovely Tauber Valley”.

Numerous cycling and hiking tours lead through the idyllic cultural landscape, where you can discover many other cultural highlights besides Rothenburg, from Creglingen with Tilman
Riemenschneider’s Marian altar to Weikersheim with its castle and castle park to Bad Mergentheim with its residential castle and many other sights.

For wine connoisseurs, a wine hike with tasting at one of the many vintners in the Tauber Valley is also worthwhile.

15. The Toppler Castle

In the Tauber valley, also opposite the castle garden, lies the so-called Toppler Castle, a late medieval residential tower built by the famous Rothenburg mayor Heinrich Toppler as a summer residence.

The Toppler Castle follows the building type of the Weiherhaus. It served Toppler both to represent his power and wealth and to protect the mills in the Tauber valley.

16. The Rothenburg Museum

In the Rothenburg Museum, also known as the Imperial City Museum, you can admire, among other things, the legendary jug with which Georg Nusch is said to have once executed the “Meistertrunk”. In addition, the museum’s collection includes late Gothic sculptures, decorated swords, armor and everyday objects from the Middle Ages. Jewish liturgical objects can also be found here, as Rothenburg had a strong Jewish community for a long time in the Middle Ages.

Incidentally, the museum is housed in a former Dominican monastery from the 13th century.


Monastery yard 5
91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Phone: 09861 939043
Fax: 09861 935206
[email protected]

17. The Gerlach Forge

"From the city wall, you can easily see the picturesque Gerlach smithy."

From the city wall, you can easily see the picturesque Gerlach smithy.

One of the most quaint houses in Rothenburg is the Gerlachschmiede in Wenggasse. The picturesque half-timbered house, originally built in 1469, is one of the houses faithfully rebuilt after the bombing of Rothenburg in 1945.

Today, the Gerlach smithy with its pointed gable roof shines in its old splendor and can be seen particularly well from the city wall.

18. The Spital Bastion with Covered Bridge

"The Spitalbastei is one of the most worth seeing Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights."

Through the Spitaltor you come to the eight-shaped Spitalbastei.

The Spital Gate at the southernmost tip of the old town leads to the Spital Bastion, which is built in the shape of a figure eight. It was added in 1586 for better defense of the gate.

The bastion has 7 gates, 2 courtyards and an upper corridor. It is also surrounded by a moat, which can be walked on today. There is also a covered wooden bridge over it, which is a popular photo motif.


91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Phone: 09861 404800

19. The Franciscan Church

The second large one in Rothenburg’s old town is also worth seeing. It is the old monastery church of the Franciscan monastery that used to exist here, in whose buildings the Goethe-Institut was housed for a long time.

The Franciscan Church of Our Lady, as its full name is, is one of the best preserved examples of a so-called mendicant church, distinguished by its own architectural peculiarities. Here, a threenave basilica nave with a flat ceiling is adjoined by a high, elongated choir with a ribbed vault.

In the choir of the church there is also a small altar of St. Francis attributed to Tilman Riemenschneider.

20. The Rothenburg Dungeon

Even underground, Rothenburg has a lot to offer: under the Gothic part of the town hall is the history vault. Here were once the dungeons of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The most prominent inmate of this dungeon was the mayor Heinrich Toppler (1340-1408), legendary even during his lifetime, who helped Rothenburg to previously unknown greatness and power, but was eventually convicted of treason.

Today, the history vault belongs to the festival association “Meistertrunk” and you can learn more about the time of the Thirty Years War with the help of exhibits such as original uniforms, flags and weapons. Some historical scenes are also re-enacted here with life-size puppets.


Historical festival play 1631 The Master’s Drink
City Hall atrium
91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Phone: 09861 / 86751

21. Eating “Snowballs”

"Schneeballen are the local pastry specialty from Rothenburg ob der Tauber."

Schneeballen: the baked treat from Rothenburg

If you stroll through Rothenburg’s old town and take a look in the windows of the many stores, you will find a bakery with “Schneeballen” on almost every corner. This is a regional baking speciality made of shortcrust pastry. Originally a wedding pastry, the dough balls measuring approx. 10 cm in diameter are nowadays something like the culinary landmark of Rothenburg.

Traditionally, the snowballs are dusted with powdered sugar (hence the name), but there are also numerous variants, for example, with cinnamon sugar or with chocolate coating.

22. City Tour With the Night Watchman

A guided tour of the town with the night watchman is highly recommended for anyone staying overnight in Rothenburg or until late in the evening! Recognizable from afar by his late medieval black hat and coat, his halberd, bugle and lantern, Hans-Georg Baumgartner has embodied Rothenburg’s night watchman for years.

Every evening he offers guided tours of the city, at 20:00 in English, at 21:30 in German. The meeting point is always at the Marktplatz. From there, the tour continues along Herrengasse in the direction of the Burggarten and beyond. For 60 minutes you hang spellbound on the lips of the night watchman and listen to his with black humor and colorful words presented explanations about the conditions in medieval Rothenburg.

23. Panorama Trail and Wine Trail

"A walk along the so-called Weinsteige is one of the insider tips for visitors to Rothenburg ob der Tauber."

Insider tip: a walk along the Weinsteige

One of the most beautiful walks through Rothenburg, or rather along Rothenburg, leads along the adequately named Panoramaweg and the Weinsteige. Here you walk along the western edge of Rothenburg, slightly below the city wall and with a view of the Tauber valley on one side and the old town on the other.

Along the Weinsteige are several vineyards where the vines for the delicious Franconian wine ripen.

24. The Toppler Theater

Right next to the Rothenburg Museum is also the city’s main theater. In summer, it is especially nice to sit on the open-air stage in the old monastery courtyard and watch a performance. A mixed program is performed here, ranging from old tales and legendary Hans Sachs plays to modern boulevard comedies and song recitals.

25. The Lotus Garden

If you want a cultural contrast for a change amid all the beauty of the German Middle Ages that Rothenburg offers, you can find it in the Lotos Garden. The Asian water garden is hidden behind walls. Through a 250-year-old Indian gate, one enters another world here and can find relaxation and tranquility in the 3,000 square meter garden.

Almost a third of the lotus garden consists of water area: ponds and streams, bridged by wooden bridges in Japanese style. In between, pagoda-style pavilions and terraces with tables and chairs invite you to linger. The attached café offers not only coffee and cakes, but also a changing lunch menu. Also connected to the Lotus Garden is the Leyk Ceramic Manufactory, known for its miniature half-timbered houses.


Leyk Light Houses GmbH
Erlbacher Street 108
91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Tel. 0 98 61 / 8 75 55 88
[email protected]

Believe it or not, these are by no means all Rothenburg ob der Tauber sights! In the picturesque alleys there is so much to discover .


Looking for more excursion destinations in Bavaria? Here on Abenteuer Freundschaft you can find regional tips for nice excursions, as well as location-independent leisure ideas for friends, for couples and for families with children.

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