Creating Traditions in Rothenburg, Germany
I always enjoyed medieval history, and living medieval history is the best experience of all. My late husband, William, and I traveled to Germany together every year since 1996. Our favorite city was Rothenburg ob der Tauber, in Upper Bavaria. Rothenburg is a well-preserved medieval city. Some original buildings still stand, but most of the city’s buildings are designed to look like the originals. However, the city keeps it medieval living preserved.
William and I loved visiting Rothenburg. We visited the city every year since our first trip together in 1996. We traveled at different times of the year, usually in the spring. In 2010, we decided to go to Rothenburg in September. This is when our trips to Rothenburg changed.
When we arrived at Rothenburg by train and walked to the inn, we could see the city prepared for a special event. As we walked down the cobblestone roads, we saw tents set up and medieval structures in the market square. We had never seen these before. When we checked into the inn that we had stayed at every year, William asked the innkeeper (in German) what was going on that weekend. As it turned out, that weekend was the Imperial City Festival.
Timing is everything. William and I had visited Rothenberg ob der Tauber for so many years and never knew about this festival. This festival was something new to us, so we were excited about it.
On Friday morning, when William and I went downstairs to have breakfast, we saw attractions set up on the streets. We couldn’t wait to get out and explore the festival.
Later that morning, a fife-and-drum band paraded down the streets. They played music from the time as they walked down the street. The band wore outfits from the medieval times (the way the people of Rothenburg would have dressed back then). The market square hosted several acts from the medieval period, along with some singing. We ate food cooked over an open fire, and I must say it was delicious! The band played a music show in the square. While the drums and horns were somewhat loud, the music was interesting to hear. William and I watched and listened to the band while we enjoyed our food.
The best attraction came at night. We saw the spectacular fireworks show at City Hall (called the Rathaus in German). Despite the crowd, the fireworks show was fun. Music played as the fireworks show went on.
On Saturday and Sunday there were two full days of entertainment. We saw medieval reenactments in the park right outside the city wall. People dressed as knights fought each other with swords and shields. When we visited the park, we saw how people lived back in the medieval times, and people dressed in medieval clothing. Some people in medieval costume came down the streets on horseback and walked around the town. They carried banners with the symbol of Rothenburg.
The inn we stayed at was a popular hangout for the people participating in the festival. Some people, still dressed in their medieval costumes, came to the inn’s restaurant for dinner. A few of the participants joined William and me at our table, and we all enjoyed dinner together.
We felt like we actually lived medieval history by seeing this festival. I am also glad we came to Rothenburg when we did. William and I started a new tradition of visiting Rothenburg for the medieval festival every year. Unfortunately, the year 2013 was our last time, as William passed away suddenly later that year. I lost my love; he was my special travel companion. I was heartbroken.
In 2015, I went to Rothenburg for the first time alone, and attended the medieval festival. This trip brought back all the memories visiting Rothenburg with William. Although it was not the same visiting Rothenburg and attending the festival without him, this was a good way to honor his memory.