Rothenburg ob der Tauber
September 16, 2003
Back to the Middle Ages
No time to recover from the jet lag – the day after my arrival in Germany my mother took me to Rothenburg. This town is one of only a few in Germany that preserve a medieval core and still have the traditional city walls.
As we found out, the walls are not in all parts original. While walking the defenses, we noticed a number of plaques mentioning people from all over the world, and eventually realized that they had paid for the reconstruction after the war. Over 40% of the old city had been destroyed in the war and reconstructed afterwards. Now, tourists can once again enjoy the walls, the gate towers, and stores with traditional signs. To give an even better impression of what life in the middle ages was like, a little museum shows off torture instruments and other objects in an attempt to explain the course of justice in olden times.
One of the greatest treasures of the city is the "Heilig-Blut-Altar", an altar in the town’s largest church that enshrines a piece of cloth with blood of Jesus (or so they say). The altar was carved by Tilman Riemenschneider, an artist famous in the region for such work. As our guide explained, the artist took some unusual liberties – the central person in the Last Supper scene is not Jesus, but Judas, and the Roman soldiers in the Gethsemane scene on the side panel wear uniforms of the Rothenburg police at the time.