It was a shame that Brian left his Lederhosen at home because he would have fit in perfectly wearing them as we travel through these gorgeous German towns.
Four hundred kilometres of road running from Fussen in the south to Würzburg in the north. A dream route passing the southern Alps and Germany’s fertile farmland, lowland forests along the banks of the Danube, and storybook looking towns complete with medieval walls, cobbled squares, and crooked streets, all preserved as if time has come to a standstill.
Set picturesquely on the steep cliffs of the Lech, the unspoiled medieval walled town of Landsberg am Lech is close to the Wendls’ so that is where we are starting our drive along the Romantic Road.
Landsberg also has the prison where Hitler waited for his trial after his failed coup in Munich in 1923. He was convicted and sentenced to five years confinement, this is when he started writing the first part of Mein Kampf.
The free Imperial city of Augsburg is next, founded by the children of the Roman Emperor Augustus over 2000 years ago and one of the oldest cities in Germany. It’s also home to the Fuggerei, the oldest social housing settlement founded almost 500 years ago by the wealthy banking Fugger family as a housing complex for needy Augsburgers and has been in continuous operation since that time. To this day around 150 residents with low incomes live in the Fuggerei for an annual base rent of 88 cents, and three prayers daily. How do you think they check to see if those prayers are said?
With a name like Rain and considering the heat wave we are still experiencing here in Europe, this is our next stop. This town is famous for the battle in 1632 between the Catholics and the Protestants that took place here during the Thirty Years War which devastated entire regions.
Harburg Castle complete with parapets, towers, turrets looms over the valley and river, and provides us shade and shelter for the night, especially needed when the thunderstorm rolled through, cooling and clearing the hot air. Worth a mention is that this 11th century castle has never been captured, and is now privately owned and occupied, with some general areas open to visitors on weekends.
Not many towns can claim they are built in the crater of a massive meteorite that hit the earth 15 million years ago, but Nordlingen can do exactly that. It is also the only German town with walls and battlements you can walk all the way around, about 2.5kms worth which we walked I may add.
Dinkelsbuhl would be the archetypal town along this Romantic Strasse. Immaculately preserved buildings and crooked lanes and all ringed by medieval walls, boasting 18 towers and four gates. It also had the best ice-cream I have tasted in a long time.
We’re getting towards the end of the Romantic Strasse with only a couple more historical towns to visit. We have been driving this route for 5 days now, so I’ll try not to bore you much more, but really have to mention Rothenburg ob der Tauber, built above the Tauber River (ob der meaning above) with it’s lovely half-timbered houses and the 700-year-old artisan area where cobblers, weavers and potters are still working to this day.
As I mentioned at the beginning, way back at the top of the page, the UNESCO listed city of Wurzburg is our final stop. Probably anyone that has been on a German river cruise would have passed under the old bridge lined by Baroque statues of saints that span the River Main. This city is also smack in the middle of one of Germany’s biggest wine producing areas, but more on that a little later.
The red lead coloured church in the centre square was a subject for a good chat while we stopped for a beverage or two. Badly damaged during WW2 when this town was fire bombed, the internal restorations were done in a controversial more modern style, whilst the exterior now painted ‘primer red’ was restored to it’s previous Baroque splendour, although for the life of us can’t figure out the colour choice.
We didn’t make it up to the castle, although definitely admired it and it’s surrounding vineyards from the wine bar on the bridge, the best idea ever and one that should be implemented on our bridges in Australia.