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Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Tourist Information and Travel Guide

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ABOVE: The skyline of Rothenburg ob der Tauber on a misty autumn day.

The former Free Imperial City of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the star attraction along Germany's Romantic Road. It's justifiably celebrated not only for its well-preserved medieval buildings and walls, but also for its unspoiled setting. When you approach the city or stand atop its walls and gaze out over a countryside that's free of suburban sprawl, it's easy to imagine what Rothenburg must have looked like in the Middle Ages.

Skeptics might complain that Rothenburg feels like a theme park, but that says more about theme parks than it does about Rothenburg. This Franconian gem is the real deal: a working town of 12,000 people where heritage, historic preservation, and modern life have achieved a profitable equilibrium.

To be sure, Rothenburg can be crowded during high season, with some 2.5 million visitors packing its medieval streets and squares each year--including a million or so Japanese and Americans, who comprise Rothenburg's largest foreign contingents. That's why it pays to spend at least one and preferably two or more nights in Rothenburg: You'll find the city less crowded--and more relaxing--when the daytrippers have left in their tour buses. (If you're really looking for solitude, visit in January or February, when the only people in town are the locals and a handful of Goethe Institute language students.)

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