City Wall

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Home Page > Travelogues > Germany > Bayern > Rothenburg o.d. Tauber > City Wall

Other Chapters in the Rothenburg section:  Obere Schmiedgasse ] Festive Rothenburg ] [ City Wall ]


State of Bayern (Bavaria)

Rothenburg City Wall


State of Bayern (Bavaria)

This third and final chapter of the Rothenburg ob der Tauber travelogue presents one of the city's greatest features, its extraordinarily well-preserved city wall.  This is presented as a photo gallery that covers the Burggarten and most of the eastern and southern gates.  Visitors are able to traverse a catwalk inside most of the wall on the eastern side, giving an idea of what the city's defense forces would have seen as they tried to repel invaders.  The defenses were built in two rings, an inner ring of gates and an outer ring.  The inner ring protected the beautiful old town.  The outer ring protected the newer parts of the city north and east as it expanded in medieval times.  Meanwhile, the Burgturm stood high over the steep Tauber River valley that provided defense to the west.  These photos are a composite of several visits to Rothenburg, each covering a different part of the wall.

This chapter begins at the Burgturm, shown above.  The Burgturm sat at the western end of Herrngasse, described in the Obere Schmiedgasse chapter.  This gate provided a multiple layer of defense -- with the very tall observation tower and inner and outer gates with a sure-fire kill zone in between to prevent invaders from making it into the city. The Burgturm faces a small park, the Burggarten, that juts out over a sharp bend in the Tauber River.  The Burggarten had several flower gardens and was protected with a low wall providing great views over the Tauber River, and to other parts of the city.
This view was from the Burggarten's observation wall facing southeast to the Sieberturm at left and a round tower upon the outer city wall beyond Untere Schmiedgasse at right.  Partly obscured by the trees was the southwestern fortifications below the town. This is the same tower, located at the southern end of town and facing out to Rothenburg's parking lots (numbers P1 and P2).  Based on the person below the tower, the wall stood about thirty feet tall, and it was uniform all around the north, east, and southern sides of the city.  Numerous entrances have been carved into the wall for modern visitors.
Moving to the south, this was the Sieberturm from the 'outside' -- at Untere Schmiedgasse facing toward the city.  The yellow and brown half-timbered building at right was a common old-style structure that had a beautiful house on top of a tall concrete wall. This is the Markus Tower and the Roeder Arch, located due east of the center market by following Roedelstrasse.  Like the Sieberturm, the Markus Tower was part of the inner fortifications.  West of the tower was in the tourist zone, but east of the tower was a number of souvenir and specialty shops that were less expensive and had pretty good stuff.
The next two photos show the Roederturm at the far eastern end of Roedergasse.  The tower here was at the inside, providing observations to the east. Beyond the tower was this outer defensive position, a semi-circular structure that protected a walkway crossing a moat.  In a way, it was akin to a larger version of the Burgturm, with an outer and inner fortification that allowed defenders to channel any invaders that managed to breach the first line of defense.
As previously indicated, large parts of the city wall were traversable.  This rickety catwalk followed along the southeastern part of the wall, overlooking Rothenburg's residential zone.  The walk was about twenty feet above ground and barely one-person wide.  The Jakobkirche can be seen in the distance. The next two photos show the Spitalturm and Spitalbastei, which was the southernmost fortification.  This followed the two-layer form of the Burgturm and Roedelturm, but perhaps this gave a clearer view of the full structure.  The bastion opened to a bridge over the city moat, and led the visitor to a round plaza watched on all sides before he entered the city via the Spitalturm.
The bastion's interior was huge, and visitors could climb up to the cannon deck where cannon replicas, like those shown, stood ready to engage invaders.  About four to six cannons were in place. This final photo was taken from the top of the Imperial Tower on the Town Hall.  It was pointed north to northeast, giving a clear view of the outer fortifications in the distance.  Parts of the city wall could be seen in the back left.  It shows how dense the city was and how beautiful it was.

No matter where one came to Rothenburg, the city wall was there, towering over the scene.  The lovely medieval gates helped set the mood, and as one passed through the stone arches, there was the colorful city beckoning.  What a terrific way to begin a visit, we thought.  Now, if there was a way to set up American malls this way...

Seven trips between 1999 and 2006 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2006 Tom Galvin

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