The German name is Romantische Strasse, but whatever you call it, the 200 mile stretch of road between
This Bavarian treasure was once, more or less, a medieval trade route, but in reality the Romantic Road was created by German tour operators in the 1950s to promote quaint towns and historic castles that link central Germany with the south.
Some observers say the Romantic Road represents quintessential Germany or Germany the way we imagine it to be. Take time to stop and revel in its tantalizing allure. This is not a destination to be rushed.
Here arched gateways beckon along beguiling watch-towered walls. Discover fairytale castles and bewitching half-timbered houses. Stare at majestic Gothic cathedrals or stroll along Pied Piper-like streets.
Time stands still along the Romantic Road, but as travelers you should, at the very least, slow down and absorb its cultural, architectural, historical and culinary riches.
The concept was an attempt to rebuild Germany by attracting tourism following World War II. Most of the earliest visitors were families and friends of American soldiers who had been stationed in the region during the war. As word of mouth spread, the route quickly became a popular travel destination.
There are far too many places along the way to list them all, but each features clean, comfortable and, best of all, storybook accommodations.
Listed here are a few of the more popular sites, but be warned, if you do not take advantage of some of the lesser known towns, you will miss much of the magic.
Wurzburg: As the northern gateway to the Romantic Road, if you visit Wurzburg without touring both sides of the river, you’ll miss half of the city. Begin at the Baroque palace known as the Residenz which was commissioned in 1720 when opulent wealth merged with the architectural genius of Balthasar Neumann. The entranceway alone will take your breath away with a vaulted staircase that is the largest in the country.
Cross the picturesque Old Main Bridge with its multitude of statues that nestle in the foreground beneath Marienburg Fortress. Positioned on a hill overlooking the city, the views from the fortress of the river and the myriad of red rooftops are not to be missed.
Wurzburg is also noted for its numerous churches and museums, as well as the Wurzburger Stein vineyard which is one of Germany’s oldest and largest.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Rothenburg is arguably the most popular stop en route. While justifiably proud of its reputation as the best preserved medieval town in Germany, it also translates to an abundance of tourists which, for visitors, is the price of popularity. .
Rothenburg was the inspiration for the village in Walt Disney’s animated film Pinocchio. With that image in mind, it is difficult not to be captivated by the traditional window flower boxes, leaning half-timbered houses, narrow, cobblestone alleyways, more than a mile of ancient city walls, hillside views of the river and the 13th century town hall.
If the atmosphere of Rothenburg’s streets doesn’t meet expectations, Hotel Eisenhut (http://www.eisenhut-rothenburg.com/) will complete the job. So delightful is the atmosphere of this 12th century patrician’s house you may never leave the lobby. Not a good idea, however, because you will then miss the three story galleried dining hall.
Dinkelsbuhl: Many travelers favor Dinkelsbuhl over Rothenburg as a smaller version of its big sister with fewer visitors. Once a Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire Dinkelsbuhl is, like Rothenburg, surrounded by ancient walls and towers.
Though not even scratching the surface of Dinkelsbuhl’s many attractions, it was the location for the 1962 film The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. Another interesting fact is the city was untouched by either World War, except for a single broken window in St. George’s Minster.
Nordlingen: This village stands out with Rothenburg and Dinkelsbuhl as the only other completely walled city in Germany. More than 1,100 years old, Nordlingen was the site of two important battles during the Thirty Years War.
Late night visitors or travelers spending the night, should listen for the town crier to shout, “So g’sell” or “All’s well” from the
Fussen: Neuschwanstein is undeniably the reason to visit. “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle” has been familiar to people from all over the world since the opening of
The palace was commissioned by “Mad” King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a personal retreat and a tribute to German composer Richard Wagner. With its theatrical exterior and interiors Ludwig’s influence is evident in every aspect of its design and furnishings.
Not far away is the castle of Ludwig’s father, Hohenschwangau, where the Ludwig grew up and spent time while his own palace was being built.
The Romantic Road may be a marketing concept, but it defines the word “romance” for everyone who loves travel.
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Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in
Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.
As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.
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