Burgtor Rothenburg Castle Gate

Does Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany have a castle? Once upon a time the charming medieval Bavarian town of Rothenburg, in the Tauber Valley, had a castle. Sadly, there hasn’t been a castle here for a long time. In its place is a beautiful castle garden, a green oasis that’s a quiet respite from the crowds of the historic town center. Use this guide to find the castle garden, and quickly locate the best things to see in the garden.

Burgtor Rothenburg Castle Gate
Burgtor Rothenburg Castle Gate

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The Rothenburg Imperial Castle, or Sauferburg Castle, was located in what is today called the Castle Garden. Visitors can visit the former castle grounds and remnants of the former castle.

address: Alte Burg, 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

In the 11th century, the Hohenstaufen king Conrad III built the original castle on the mountain top high above the steep banks of the river Tauber. By the 13th century the Imperial Castle was rarely used as a royal residence. The last Hohenstaufen king, Conrad IV, stayed in Rothenburg a total of only seven times between 1238 and 1251.

In 1356 the castle was damaged by the Basel earthquake. The town’s citizens, with the permission of Emperor Charles IV, dismantled the ruined castle to build municipal and public buildings with the stones of the ruins. (source of historic facts: Wikipedia and the informational sign in the park)

Rothenburg Castle drawing
Rothenburg Castle

Important visitor information you’ll need to plan your visit to the Castle Garden (Burggarten Rothenburg ob der Tauber.)

Interesting sights in the castle garden

Grab an ice cream at Eiscafé-Pizzeria Italia just down the street at Herrngasse 8, and explore these sites:

  • Burgtor gate/ (Burgturm): This gate is one of the iconic views of Rothenburg. Look for the hidden face on the side of the gate facing the garden. This is a pitch mask, used for pouring pitch on anyone intent on invading the town. This pitch mask wasn’t added until 1900 so it’s unlikely it saw any “action.” Notice the slits flanking the pitch mask. These once held chains which supported the moat bridge. The small door within the larger door on this gate is sometimes called the eye-of-the-needle, the moniker stems from the fact that these tiny doors were the only way to access the town after the gates had been closed for the night.
Burgtor Castle Gate at Rothenburg Castle Garden
Burgtor Castle Gate at Rothenburg Castle Garden
pitch mask on Burgtor Castle Gate Rothenburg Germany
pitch mask and drawbridge chain slits on Burgtor Castle Gate
  • what remains of the castle: The next stop, what remains of the castle! The only remaining buildings of the Romanesque Rothenburg Stauferburg castle are the chapel and the Gardener’s Lodge (Gartner-haus.) The Blasius Chapel (Blasisuskapelle) has been used for different purposes through the centuries. Before becoming a chapel, it was a residence for various servants of the imperial court. Inside you’ll find a 14th century wall painting. The Blasius Chapel stands as a memorial to German soldiers who fell in the world wars, including WWI soldiers and WWII soldiers.
Blasius Chapel remains of Rothenburg Castle
Blasius Chapel remains of Rothenburg Castle
the gardener's house Rothenburg Castle remains Germany
View over Rothenburg from the the garden outside of the Gardner’s House (yellow house)
  • The Jewish Memorial Stone: Near the chapel you’ll find the Zum Andenken an die ermordeten Juden Memorial (In memory of the murdered Jews) by Peter Nedwal. In 1298 a group of “Jew-beaters” under the leadership of King Rintfleisch swept through the Franconian region of Germany and neighboring areas and carried out massacres of the local Jewish communities. During the massacre more than 400 Jews sought protection in the old imperial castle. All were forced to surrender and subsequently were killed. This stone memorializes the people who lost their lives in the massacre.
the Jewish Memorial in Rothenburg Castle Garden
the Jewish Memorial in Rothenburg Castle Garden
  • scenic overlooks: There are two scenic overlooks in the park. The viewpoint (Aussichtspunkt) located near the castle gate has some of the best views the town has to offer. If you look south, you’ll see vineyards and the little Kobolzell Church and the Double Bridge (Doppelbrücke.) The tower located just here is called Furbringerscheune Tower (Der Turm an der Fürbringer Scheune.) Follow the pathway through the park to the viewpoint called Blick ins Taubertal for panoramic views of the small community of Detwang, and Toppler Castle (wait, castle? more on that later.)
Scenic Overlook at the Castle Garden in Rothenburg
Scenic Overlook at the Castle Garden in Rothenburg, a popular spot for photos
  • statues in Rothenburg Castle Garden: In the Baroque Garden, behind the former gardener’s small house, you’ll find a fountain and a series of statues surrounded by flower beds.
Statues at Rothenburg Castle Garden Germany
statue in the Baroque Garden
statue in Rothenburg Castle Garden Germany
baroque statues
  • Stauferstele Memorial: This towering stone memorial was erected in 2010. The Stauferstele Memorial commemorates the Reichsburg, or German Empire, and a time when the city was under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Stauferstele Memorial Rothenburg Castle Gardens
Stauferstele Memorial Rothenburg Castle Gardens
  • Broccoli fountain (Brokkolibrunnen): Continue through the garden and you’ll come upon the broccoli fountain. It’s a bit strange…snap a photo of this odd attraction!
  • Trail to Detwang: If you are looking to escape the midday crowds of the town center there’s a short hiking trail that leads from the Burggarten to Detwang, one of the oldest villages in Franconia (968 AD). 20-minute walk plus time to explore. You will also pass the Unter den Linden beer garden, located directly on the Tauber. Do be warned, this trail is steep, and it’s a steep climb back up.
sign to Castle Garden and Detwang Rothenburg
to Detwang!
steep path between Rothenburg Castle Park and Detwang Germany
steep path between the park and Detwang

Entrance fee / cost of admission

Admission to the park is free!

How much time do I need?

You can easily see the sights in the garden in under an hour. If you need a break from the crowds, take more time to sit and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

opening hours

The castle gardens are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My latest trip to Rothenburg was in December for the Christmas Market. The garden statues were covered so do be aware if you plan to visit in winter, you may not see the lovely statues.

public restrooms (Öffentliche Toilette)

There are FREE public restrooms (WC’s) next to Burgtor Gate.

Children’s Playground

There is a children’s playground near the castle garden. If facing Burgtor Gate head to your left.

Are pets allowed?

Leashed pets are permitted in the garden.

Use this map to find your way around the castle garden. (links to interactive Google Map)

Rothenburg Castle Garden map, links to interactive Google Map
Rothenburg Castle Garden map

Rothenburg is located on both Germany’s Romantic Road and Castle Road. Important note on navigating your way to Rothenburg: This isn’t the only “Rothenburg” in Germany! There are several towns in Germany that go by the name Rothenburg or Rothenberg. When setting your navigation or buying your bus / train tickets you’ll want to use the town’s full name and be sure to purchase a ticket to Rothenburg “ob der Tauber located directly on the Tauber River!

by car

You’ll have an easier time finding parking at one of the designated parking lots outside of the historic city walls. The interior has very narrow streets, very limited parking, and pedestrians wandering around and blocking roadways.

Nearest parking

  • P1 Friedrich-Hörner-Weg: at Friedrich-Hörner-Weg 4 (15-minute walk)
  • P5 Parkplatz: at Bezoldweg 19, (has an electronic charging station) (12-minute walk)
  • P4 Galgentor: at Vorm Würzburger Tor 6, (13-minute walk)
  • Parkplatz Friedhof: (just off Ansbacher Straße) (15-minute walk)

Accessible parking
If there is someone in your group with mobility issues it is possible to drive to Burgtor Gate, drop them off, and then park in one of the designated lots. The paths in the park are paved and mostly flat.

Public transportation

by train
Rothenburg’s tiny railway station is located within walking distance of the old town City Center (approximately 1 kilometer or .7 miles.) If you have heavy luggage, I would suggest calling a taxi to take you to your hotel.

Train Station address: Bahnhofstrasse 12, Rothenburg O.D.T

by bus

Rothenburg is serviced by frequent bus service.

Finding the best train and bus routes: The Deutsche Bahn website and app are great tools for planning travel by public transport. I also like to search on Rome2Rio. New to navigating public transit? Public Transportation for beginners

Bus tours
Bus tours to Rothenburg can be booked through places like Get Your Guide. Here are just a couple of your options: (book now pay later, free cancellation)

Tucked back away from the crowds and nested in the monastery garden, this 12th century building has a great old-world atmosphere with views overlooking the Tauber River Valley!
Distance from the park: 3-minute walk

Book Burg Hotel now!

Looking for more options? These are my favorite Rothenburg hotels:

  • Altfrankische Weinstube: This cozy 650-year-old-building looks like it was built for gnomes. It’s also a great place for a cozy candlelit dinner! (reserve a table ahead of time) Distance for the park: 5-minute walk

Book Altfrankische Weinstube now!

  • Gotisches Haus Hotel: (The Gothic House), is in the historic center. Emperors and crown princes stayed in this 700-year-old building. The entire hotel is decorated in rustic old-world charm, it is simply divine and my personal favorite pick! Distance from the park: 3-minute walk

Book Gotisches Haus Hotel now!

a special dining experience nearby

Dine in a 1,000-year-old building at Zur Hoell Restaurant (To Hell)! (reservation recommended)
Distance: 4-minute walk

The late medieval residential tower of Topplerschlösschen is located just outside of Rothenburg. It was built by the mayor of Rothenburg, Heinrich Toppler, in 1388 as a country estate to be used in the summer months. The moated house, while technically a castle, is indeed very small and won’t make the list of Germany’s most beautiful castles. However, the interior of this well-preserved building is furnished with pieces from the 16th to 19th centuries and if you like things that are old and ancient, worth a visit.

Toppler Castle Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany Topplerschlösschen
Toppler Castle (Topplerschlösschen)

the historic center

The medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is without a doubt one of the best-preserved and most beautiful medieval towns in Germany. With adorable gingerbread-like half-timbered houses, window boxes overflowing with colorful flowers, and wonderfully crooked cobblestone streets, the historic centre of Rothenburg Germany is wonderfully frozen in time. It’s like taking a trip back to the Middle Ages. You can get a bird’s eye view of Rothenburg from the Town Hall Tower. Entry to the tower is through the city hall located right on the main market square, there is a small fee to climb the 220 steps to the top.

The Plönlein

The Plönlein is the town’s main attraction and the most photographed building in Rothenburg Germany. The skinny half-timbered Plönlein building is often associated with the 1940’s Walt Disney version of Pinocchio.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the best medieval towns in Germany
The Plönlein, the main attraction in Rothenburg, one of the best medieval towns in Germany!

the old town wall

Rothenburg’s 14th century medieval walls are remarkably well preserved. In medieval times, the entire small town of Medieval Rothenburg was encircled by these stone walls. I love to walk the old iconic town walls, a great place to escape the crowds of the streets below, and the best way to get those fantastic rooftop views! The entire medieval town wall walk is about 2.5 miles (4 km.) You’ll find the walk route map (Turmweg) at the Tourist Information Center.

Night Watchman tour

One of the most popular activities and fun things to do in Rothenburg is the Famous Night Watchman’s Tour. The Night Watchman will escort you through town with his lantern held high as he tells you all about Rothenburg’s history. My favorite story from the town’s rich history is the one about how a United States Secretary of War had a hand in saving the town from destruction during the second World War. You’ll get the full story on the tour!

Rothenburg Museums

The museums in the charming medieval town of Rothenburg showcase its ancient history!

  • Medieval Crime Museum: eerie displays, genuine medieval artifacts, torture instruments, witches, and a real Iron Maiden!
  • The Imperial City Museum: This former 13th century Dominican Convent is today home to an impressive museum full of historical artifacts.
  • The Historical Vault Museum (Rothenburg Museum): town history museum located in an authentic dungeon shows prison conditions at the time of Germany’s 30-Years War.
  • The 14th century Röderturm: is the only accessible tower in the city wall. Step inside for a look at one of the towers of the city wall!

Get my complete Rothenburg Museum Guide

Imperial City Festival

Rothenburg was a Free Imperial City under the Holy Roman Empire. Get a glimpse into daily life in medieval times at the Imperial City Festival, which is held every September!

Rothenburg Churches

A sample of the blood of Christ is said to be contained in the “Altar of the Holy Blood” (Heilig-Blut-Alta) in the St. Jakobskirche (St. James Church / St. Jakob’s Church.) The sculpture is the work of by the famous German sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider

Christmas

Rothenburg is the perfect place to get into the Christmas Spirit!
During the advent season Rothenburg is one of Germany’s most dreamy Christmas villages! You’ll be treated to snow dusted cobblestone, fresh Christmas trees, and smells that delight the senses! Rothenburg’s 500-year-old Christmas Market originated in the late Middle Ages and is one of Germany’s prettiest! Shop the wooden stalls for classical German souvenirs like old-time Christmas cards and handcrafted wooden gifts.

Can’t come around Christmas? There’s no need to fret because it’s Christmas year-round in Rothenburg! At the world famous Käthe Wohlfahrt Store, the world largest Christmas store, you’ll find thousands of traditional Christmas ornaments and tree decorations. Open all year so no matter when you visit you can pick up your early advent calendars! Inside you’ll also find the German Christmas Museum.

Rothenburg has an app for your mobile device! It’s like having your own personal tour guide! Download it at Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or wherever you download apps on your smartphone. You can do your own self-guided walk with the self-guided walking tours, get history lessons, a children’s city guide, a tower path route, and more! Get more information on the Rothenburg Tourism website (main menu-discovering-Rothenburg app)

Looking for more things to do? You’ll find a list of the “best things to do” and “best places to see, stay, and eat” in Rothenburg in these articles:

Can’t get enough of fairytale towns? Check out this list of the best-preserved medieval towns in Germany

Are there castles in Rothenburg?

Is there a castle in Rothenburg? Rothenburg is home to the remnants of the old Rothenburg Castle, as well as Toppler Castle. You won’t find much left of Rothenburg Castle, and while referred to as a castle, Toppler probably won’t blow you away.

How much time do I need for Rothenburg?

Rothenburg can be done on a day trip but I don’t recommend it. There are so many great things to do, and early morning and romantic evenings are a great time to explore after the pesky midday crowds have left. Give it a minimum of 3 days to do it right but if you’re in a hurry you can get a lot done in 2 days.

Where is Rothenburg Germany?

Rothenburg is in northern Bavaria a German state in Southern Germany, right on the banks of the Tauber River. Rothenburg is part of Bavaria. To be specific it is located in northern Bavaria, a state that lies in southern Germany.

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