19 Magical Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Activities

Rothenburg ob der tauber christmas visit

Your 2021 Local-Approved Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Guide

A Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas season isn’t one you can easily forget. Imagine half-timbered houses covered in a dusting of snow, holiday cheer exuding from the world-famous Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village and Glühwein stands popping up throughout the charming old quarter. A wander through Rothenburg is enough to get anyone in the holiday spirit – even in 2021 with the Christmas market cancelled.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Rothenburg Tourism to experience this medieval city’s seasonal cheer. After three days of wandering around town, constantly dazzled, I’ve come up with a list of 19 memorable Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas activities. Read on to plan your perfect winter escape!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas
The Plönlein at night – one of the unmissable Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas sights.

History of Rothenburg: Rise, Fall and Rise to Riches

Upon entering through one of the city’s fortified gates, you’ll immediately get a sense of just how many generations have trodden along the same cobblestone roads. Some of Rothenburg’s oldest houses date back to the 13th century (and locals have a friendly rivalry going on as to whose home is actually the oldest).  

Indeed, Rothenburg grew into wealth during the Middle Ages, being at the intersection of major European trade and pilgrim routes. Today’s visitors can still get a sense of that wealth by strolling past the stately buildings around Market Square.

During the devastating 30 Years War, the city was occupied by General Tilly’s army and left in shambles. Bankrupt Rothenburg descended into poverty for a couple of centuries. Without funds to modernize, Rothenburg continued to look exactly as it did in the Middle Ages well into the 18th century.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas
Many medieval buildings are still standing today, adding to the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas atmosphere.

At this point, Rothenburg was one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns and struck the imagination of romantic period writers and painters, who helped put the city back on the map by sharing its beauty with the world. Thus began the era of tourism for Rothenburg ob der Tauber. 

Fast forward to World War II. 30% of the town was destroyed in March of 1945 by bombings. But Rothenburg’s historic significance – of which the Americans were well aware – saved it from complete annihilation. After initial air raids, the US army sent a delegation of 6 soldiers into the city on foot to negotiate its surrender and thus spare it from further damage.

After World War II, donors from around the planet sent considerable funds to help restore Rothenburg to its pre-war state.  

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas
A Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas visit is always enhanced by a night-time stroll along Herrngasse.

The Most Entertaining Crash Course on Rothenburg History

I learned a lot about the history of Rothenburg on the iconic Night Watchman Tour. Local guide Hans-Georg, dressed as a medieval watchman, shares what life was like for Rothenburg residents of yesteryear.

Anecdotes, humour and human interest stories collide as he takes you through the lit-up alleys of the Old Town. This isn’t your typical tour with facts drilled in – rather, you get bite-sized historic info as part of a theatrical performance.

The Night Watchman tour takes place daily in English at 8 pm and the group congregates at Market Square (no pre-booking necessary). Please note that dates, times and conditions may vary due to Corona restrictions.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas
The Night Watchman Tour: a great way to get acquainted with Rothenburg’s dramatic history.

8 thoughts on “19 Magical Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Activities

  1. Rothenburg ob der Tauber truly looks like a magical destination during Christmas! I’ve been to Germany sooo many tiems (even lived there) but never made it to this place which is such a pity! Hopefully soon 🙂

  2. I loved being in Germany a few years ago at Christmastime. Rothenburg ob der Tauber has so many things to do at Christmas. I would love to take my mom to the Christmas museum and the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village.

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