Rothenburg and Berchtesgaden

Trip Start May 24, 2012
Trip End Jun 07, 2012

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Monday, June 4, 2012

Our second day at Rothenburg was spent touring the wall that surrounds the city, visiting the local Criminal and Torture museum and some souvenir shopping. The wall was fascinating, we walked on portions that were ancient (10th or 11th century) and clearly built assuming arrows and burning oil were they only defenses. These sections were made of old mortared stones and had very narrow walkways and openings for archers. It was easy to visualize sword fights among enemies happening on the walls. Every 100 yards or so you would come across a small alcove area that we decided were probably warming stations where guards could get out of the wind and possible light a small fire.
Other areas of the wall were built in the 17th century. These were very different. They were focused around the gated entrances, had very large rooms with cut and mortared limestone, areas for jails. But the biggest difference was how these sections of the wall were built for a different type of defense..... Cannons. Very large openings and ramps up to the wall were built to accommodate these weapons.
The criminal and torture museum..... Well we will let the pictures speak for themselves. Suffice it to say we were appalled and morbidly fascinated at the same time. I think the highlight for the boys was getting their parents to pose in the stocks outside the museum. Every kids dream.... Mom and Dad in stocks!

Souvenir shopping for the boys meant spending lots of time in the armory shops. The weapons makers in town are true craftsman that specialize in creating many decorative weapons and sculptures but also replicating fully functional weapons that were typically used in the town in the past. For example... The "cat killer sword". This is a mid size sword that was worn in the hip and was used to lop the heads off of cats that roamed around the town. At the time the plague was common and cats were considered as bad as rats, in that they were dirty and flea riddled. While the sword was a perfect size and weight for the boys..... They could get past the name. Both boys eventually settled on buying a hunting/camping knife instead.
In addition to knives, we visited the famous Christmas store in town. The store is a fantasy land of Christmas decorations, themed rooms and traditional German decorations, including blown glass ornaments, nutcrackers and wooden carved candle pyramids. The store even has a Christmas museum that traces the history of Christmas traditions through time. As our own family tradition we always buy a Christmas ornament whenever we go on a family vacation. Every year when we decorate our own tree we can reminisce about the trip when the ornament it hung on the tree. It makes for a fun tree decorating day and over the years we get to tell and re-tell great vacation stories. So of course we picked up an ornament for this trip as well.
With all of our purchases in hand, we went in search of a cafe for lunch. As we passed through the big market square, there was an American church group choir that was assembled on the steps of the town hall singing. Their beautiful voices sounded powerful and amazing in this space, with the cobblestone square and the buildings all around, it was like being in an open site church. Really beautiful. Take a listen for yourself in the video.
At the end if the day we said goodby to Rothenburg and once again braved the narrow streets with our rental car so that we could make our way to Berchtesgaden.
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