A visit to the Old Bavarian town of Rothenburg is a delightful, real-world romp into your favorite fairytale classics. Indeed, the city has inspired not only the village in the Disney classic Pinocchio but also centuries of other artists and filmmakers. The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Parts I and II) showcase the picturesque town as well.
Of course, its association with fairytales and fantasy isn’t entirely random. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm grew up in a town not too far away and helped to popularize such classics as Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin and Hansel and Gretel. Lederhosen, turrets, clock towers and thatched roofs just feel organic to the story. Our appreciation of folklore is seeped in German culture.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the lovely, charming towns in Old Bavaria. And in particular, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (as it is officially known), which translates as “Red Fortress above the Tauber” since it overlooks the Tauber River. While you may not technically be able to travel back in time, it sure will feel like it when you arrive. Opt for the Nightwatchman’s Tour to take your group through the ramparts and back alleys as the comical guide fills you in on what life was like in the Middle Ages. You can also walk the wall around the city which, incredibly, still stands. Once a defensive strategy to keep out intruders, now a major tourist destination to draw the crowds in. And they come in droves. Drawing in over 2.5 million tourists annually, tourism is the main business here. A perfect place to find gifts for the little ones as well as stroll through Christmas shops (and a Christmas Museum) that remain open throughout the year. An old craftsman’s house dating back to 1270 is also available to tour.