Bavaria's Romantic Road

Trip Start Jan 07, 2004
Trip End Jan 27, 2004

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Friday, January 23, 2004

Hello everybody,

The Romantic Road is an old trading route right through the heart of Bavaria.  Along the way is a string of medieval walled towns.  Timbered houses.  Cobblestone streets.  And original gates through which cars drive today.  I thought that was the funniest.  The most charming and intact of all these is Rothenburg.

For an orientation, I took a walk along the city walls.  About two kilometers through the same ramparts that villagers used to protect its city.  A view outside the city shows a large, dry moat. A view inside shows a second set of gates.  The city expanded as it prospered.  My hotel, about 600 years old, shares a wall with the original city.

The highest point is always the same – a church.  It was considered the easiest way of getting close to God.  Here it’s St Jakob’s that dwarfs all the other buildings.  It’s renowned for altars by Tilman Riemenschneider, the best German wood carver of all.  St Jakob’s is one of the first Protestant churches I’ve seen on this trip.  A think I’ve just crossed the boundary of the old Hapsburg’s empire.

Has anybody heard of St George?  He’s famous here for slaying a dragon.  Every Bavarian town has memorialized him.  In Rothenburg’s old town square, there’s a statue of him above the fountain.  Other towns have paintings and taverns named after him.

Every city in Europe seems to have some sort of torture museum.  Rothenburg has the most complete I’ve seen so far.  Its Medieval Crime Museum chronicles the development of law and punishment for over 1,000 years.  It was a little startling.  Up until a few centuries ago, justice could be determined merely by hearsay.  Guilty until proven innocent seems to have been the old law.  What I found interesting was all the forms of punishment.  For example, victims of gossip or gluttony were forced to wear appropriate shame masks.

In every country I watch a little TV at night to learn about the culture.  What American program wouldn't you expect to find in Germany?  Hogan's Heroes.

My last stop on the Romantic Road was Wurzburg.  It was one of the cities destroyed by WWII.  However, Prince Bishop’s Residenz survived.  One of the best palaces found in Germany.  Rococo interior with Baroque, sculpted gardens.  Is it as grand as Vienna?  No.  But still fun to admire.  One-up’s-manship was definitely one of the royal games.

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