The medieval period in central Europe, also known as The Middle Ages or the Dark Ages, began around 476 A.D. and spanned nearly 1,000 years, ending between 1400 and 1450 A.D. By the 16th century Europe had emerged from the dark ages and entered the light of the Renaissance period.
The 17 most beautiful medieval towns in Germany
The buildings during this dark time in Germany are ridiculously historic and many of them have been well preserved. During the second world war many of Germany’s buildings were destroyed, making these preserved structures that much more precious.
A visit to one of Germany’s finest medieval towns is a virtual step back in time. I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t like!
These picturesque towns, scattered throughout Germany, collectively have a rich history, yet each has its own unique charm. They happen to be some of the most beautiful towns in Germany!
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Characteristics common to medieval cities:
- half-timbered homes
- narrow cobblestoned streets
- a medieval old town center, and historic city centers
- Christmas markets, much to my delight, many of these towns have some of the most beautiful small town Christmas markets in Europe!
- town walls (protection from invaders)
- historic landmarks
Here is a list of the most beautiful medieval towns in Germany to visit:
(1) Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is my #1 favorite on this list. If I happen to be anywhere in the vicinity, I’m going to Rothenburg! This little town is located along Germany’s Romantic Road in northern Bavaria and is one of the country’s most picturesque medieval towns.
It is also known for being Germany’s best-preserved medieval town. Rothenburg looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. With its winding cobblestone streets, and half-timbered houses it’s no surprise that this charming medieval village is a very popular place among tourists.
Rothenburg is surrounded by a medieval town wall, one of Germany’s most intact, that’s the perfect place for an evening stroll!
In addition to its historic buildings, the town has many attractions that include St. Jakob’s Church, Market Square with its Gothic fountain and clock tower, several interesting museums and the impressive Town Hall.
One of my favorite attractions in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum (torture museum), which exhibits the harsh realities of the heavy hand of “justice” in Medieval Europe. Make time for a short visit!
Take the Night Watchman’s tour for a taste of the local history and find out how Rothenburg was spared destruction during World War II!
If you are really into medieval life be sure to check out Rothenburg’s Imperial City Festival held every September! Historical groups from different era’s, including medieval times flood the town.
Monschau is located in Germany’s Eifel region in western Germany near the Belgian border. This historic town exudes Germanic heritage and charm. In addition to its half-timbered houses and narrow cobblestone streets, visitors will find the turreted 1198 Monschau Castle standing guard over the city. The historic core has remained nearly unchanged for 300 years.
If you’re visiting Monschau during the winter season, make sure to experience the Christmas Market! This festive event draws visitors from across Germany and is an excellent way to get into the holiday spirit.
Nuremberg, Germany is a city steeped in history and culture. It’s Germany’s 14th largest city, it’s one of the big cities on our list. Yet Nuremberg’s city center still retains its historic medieval charm.
Medieval architecture and rich cultural heritage make Nuremberg an ideal destination for tourists seeking a glimpse into the past.
One of the must-visit attractions in Nuremberg is the Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg), which dates to the 11th century. This imposing structure served as a residence for German kings and emperors throughout the centuries.
Another popular attraction in Nuremberg is St. Lorenz Church, a beautiful example of Gothic architecture that dates to the 13th century.
Goslar is a historic town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It’s an ideal weekend destination for those looking to explore both its historic town center and beautiful surrounding mountains. Plus, there are some wonderful museums within easy reach of Goslar!
Hundreds of beautifully preserved half timbered houses fill the old town. You can take a leisurely walk through them at your own pace or join an informative guided tour for more insight and knowledge.
Another popular sightseeing spot is Kaiserworth, a simply stunning medieval guildhall dating back to 1494. Every day on Market Square, you can hear a carillon bell chime. At 9am, 12 noon, 3pm and 6pm you can also enjoy watching Glockenspiel shows featuring mining figures.
In the town, there are many churches, most of them date back to medieval times.
If you’re searching for an authentic medieval town to visit, Tauberbischofsheim is one of Germany’s best. Situated in the main-Tauber district, it’s renowned for its charming old town area where many interesting houses cluster around the main square.
There’s also the Turmersturm, a tower which was originally part of the city wall constructed in the 13th century and now serves as an attraction for tourists.
Just a short drive from Rothenburg ob der Tauber, on Germany’s Romantic Road, is where you’ll find charming Dinkelsbuhl. It is often referred to as Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s “little sister.”
This tiny town, a former Free Imperial City under the Holy Roman Empire, is located in Bavaria in southern Germany. The town remains encircled by Medieval walls and sky-scraping gatehouses that have been restored in Renaissance style.
Additionally, there are several beautiful castles and other significant buildings throughout the town.
Discover Dinkelsbuhl’s charms by simply strolling its cobblestone streets.
Be sure to visit 15th century Georgenkirche (climb its bell tower for stunning views) and take time out of your day to admire all of its charming half-timbered houses lining these picturesque cobblestone lanes.
Visit the House of Dinkelsbuhl History Museum, which showcases 800 years of the region’s past.
Regensburg, another Bavarian city, is located on the Danube River, and has a delightfully well-preserved medieval core. The city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved medieval architecture and rich cultural heritage. A visit to Regensburg is like stepping back in time to the Middle Ages.
The Old Town of Regensburg is also worth exploring on foot. Its narrow streets are lined with colorful buildings that date back to the Middle Ages, making it feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale.
One of the most notable buildings in this area is the 13th century twin-spired Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral.
Don’t miss Historische Wurstküche zu Regensburg, the 876-year-old sausage house! The building was built in 1135 AD. The restaurant opened in 1146 making it the oldest continuously open public restaurant in the world. You’ll find it right next to the 1200-year-old bridge on the River Danube!
Regensburg is an easy train ride and a great day trip from Nuremberg!
Nordlingen, Germany’s Romantic Road destination, is a must-visit. Located in Bavaria, It is surrounded by a perfectly circular wall that fortified the city from invaders so many years ago. Norlingen’s medieval buildings and idyllic setting make it one of the best towns to explore in Germany.
This medieval town is unique in that it was constructed inside of an asteroid crater created 15 million years ago. As such, the surrounding stone contains millions of tiny diamonds.
Unlike other medieval towns in this article, it’s less crowded and offers an authentic medieval atmosphere.
It is noteworthy that Nordlingen is an ancient city, its first mention being in the 9th century when “Nordilinga” is mentioned.
Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Franconia region of Germany, is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and charm. Bamberg is a step back in time. Old Town Bamberg boasts over 2,000 historically registered buildings, many of which date back to the Middle Ages.
The most famous landmark is the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), which was built on an artificial island in the middle of the river Regnitz. This unique building has become an icon of Bamberg and is one of the most photographed buildings in Germany. It made my list of Famous Landmarks in Germany!
Another must-visit attraction is Bamberg Cathedral. Built in Romanesque style between 1004 and 1012.
For those who love beer, Bamberg is also home to nine breweries and numerous beer gardens where you can sample local beers. Rauchbier (smoked beer) is a specialty here and can be found at most breweries.
Bamberg hosts a HUGE Christmas market. The market features over 50 stalls selling traditional crafts and gifts such as hand-carved wooden toys, handmade ornaments, and local delicacies like gingerbread cookies and mulled wine. Additionally, you’ll find some 400 nativity scenes in Bamberg during the holiday season!
Nestled on the coast of northern Germany, Lübeck is a beautiful medieval town famous for its brick Gothic architecture. The town’s Old Town has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its Hanseatic architecture, narrow alleys, city gates, and impressive churches.
If you’re looking to experience medieval history firsthand, Lubeck should definitely be on your list. Here are some things to see and do:
Explore the Old Town, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in northern Europe. The streets are lined with historic buildings, many of which date back to the 14th century.
Visit St. Mary’s Church: This impressive brick church dominates Lubeck’s skyline and is one of the largest churches in northern Germany. It was built in Gothic style between 1250 and 1350 (14th century)
Walk along Holsten Gate, this 15th century gate house looks a little like a princess castle in red brick!
Sample Marzipan: The city has been known for its marzipan production since medieval times, so make sure to try some! “The invention of marzipan is usually attributed to Lübeck, Germany. Legend has it that during a 15th century famine when flour for making bread became scarce, the senate of Lübeck ordered bakers to create a replacement. Using eggs, sugar, and stores of almonds, the clever bakers came up with marzipan.” –Serious Eats
Situated in the Harz Mountains of central Germany, picturesque Quedlinburg is a well-preserved medieval town with over 1,200 half-timbered buildings. Visitors feel as if they’ve stepped back in time. One of the top attractions in Quedlinburg is the Old Town, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The pretty town dates to the 10th century. Wander through the narrow streets among the colorful facades of the historic buildings.
Stiftskirche St. Servatius, also known as Quedlinburg Abbey, is a massive Romanesque-style church that was built in the early 11th century.
Schlossmuseum highlights life in medieval times and features artifacts such as weapons, armor, and household items from that era.
Take a guided walking tour of Quedlinburg or see it from a horse-drawn carriage!
Situated in the scenic Mosel River Valley, the Rhineland-Palatinate region, Cochem is a fairytale-like town with a medieval atmosphere, particularly in its restored old town square.
Cochem is one of my personal favorites. Explore the charming cobblestone streets with their medieval architecture, or the stunning castle that looms over the town of Cochem. Take a walk along the Moselle River that winds lazily through town
Reichsburg Castle, which sits atop a hill overlooking the town. The castle was built in the 11th century and has undergone several renovations over the years.
Take a leisurely boat ride down the Moselle River to enjoy breathtaking views of vineyards and castles along both sides of this picturesque waterway.
The famous Burg Eltz Castle is an easy train ride from Cochem.
Bacharach is a small town located on the Rhine River in the Rhine Gorge of Germany. It is known for its medieval architecture, picturesque surroundings, half timbered houses, and stunning vineyards that produce some of Germany’s finest wines.
Visitors can explore Stahleck Castle, which dates back to the 12th century, and overlooks the town offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s winding streets.
Don’t forget to make time for a Rhine River cruise. We took one from Bacharach to Sankt Goar and back again. I’ve included it in my free 2-week Germany, Austria, Switzerland itinerary.
The town also has several beautiful churches, including St. Peter’s Church and St. John’s Church, both dating back to medieval times. Overall, visiting medieval Bacharach Germany is an unforgettable experience that combines interesting history, culture, nature, and culinary delights all in one place!
Wernigerode, yet another picturesque town, sits at the foot of the Harz Mountains. It features an old city center filled with remarkable half-timbered buildings which make it look like something out of a storybook!
A must-see attraction here is the 12th century Wernigerode Castle which dates back to the Middle Ages, offering the best views across this quaint little village.
Another popular attraction in Wernigerode is the fanciful and beautifully preserved Rathaus Wernigerode (Town Hall), built in 1277. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the town.
The Museum Schiefes Haus highlights traditional timber-framed architecture while providing insight into daily life during medieval times. The Harz Museum showcases local folklore, crafts, and traditions from throughout the town’s history.
Wernigerode, the charming medieval town known for its timber-framed houses, narrow streets, and stunning medieval castle, will leave you feeling enchanted by this charming town nestled among towering peaks!
Heidelberg is nestled on the banks of the Neckar River and crowned by a magnificent castle perched on the hilltop overlooking the town. Heidelburg’s history dates back to the Middle Ages and is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, founded in 1386.
While Heidelberg may not be considered an “old town” by German standards, it does have some fantastic medieval sites worth visiting including: the castle ruins, university, the Old Bridge spanning the Neckar River, and the winding streets of Heidelberg’s Altstadt.
Heidelberg’s historic Hauptstrasse (Main Street), stretches for about 2 km through the heart of Old Town. Here you will find plenty of shops selling souvenirs as well as traditional German food such as pretzels, sausages, and beer.
Visit the Kurpfälzisches Museum which showcases regional art collections dating from medieval times up until today.
(16) Bad Wimpfen
The charming small village of Bad Wimpfen is a medieval town located in the southern part of Germany. It’s the closest town in this article to the Black Forest (and Meersburg, discussed next.)
Nestled in the beautiful Neckar valley, Bad Wimpfen offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and explore the rich history of Germany.
The town dates back to the Roman era, but it was during the Middle Ages that Bad Wimpfen flourished as an important trading center.
The old town is full of narrow streets and alleys, historic buildings, and impressive monuments that are sure to captivate any visitor.
One of the most notable attractions in Bad Wimpfen is its well-preserved imperial palace, which served as a residence for German kings and emperors during the 12th century.
The palace complex features stunning architecture, including a grand hall with intricate carvings on its walls. Another must-see attraction is Ritterstiftskirche St. Peter und Paul, a magnificent church built in Gothic style during the 13th century.
Meersburg is a charming town in southern Germany that is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and breathtaking views of Lake Constance. Step back in time as you explore the narrow, cobbled streets and ancient buildings that make up this picturesque town.
One of the main attractions of Meersburg is the impressive Burg Meersburg, a castle that dates back to the 7th century.
Another must-see attraction in Meersburg is St. Martin’s Church, which dates back to the 13th century. This stunning church features Gothic architecture and beautiful stained glass windows.
map of medieval towns in Germany
Here’s a handy map to help plan your trip. Follow this link to an interactive map.
Germany is a country filled with medieval towns worth exploring. All over Germany you can find preserved buildings and sites from the early to the late Middle Ages, History lovers visiting Germany can immerse themselves in history and experience what life was like centuries ago. It really is an amazing experience!
So, If you’re planning to travel to Germany and searching for a vacation that takes you back in time, Germany has many medieval towns that will satisfy your desires. Visit these towns and be wowed by incredible medieval architecture, ancient city walls, and historic buildings. Gute Reise! and good luck choosing one of these amazing medieval towns in Germany!
Note: looking for the oldest town in Germany? That’s Trier! You can find out about he many Roman sites in Trier Germany in my Famous German Landmarks article.
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