Thursday, July 3, 2014

How a Tourist Saved a Beautiful Medieval City

View of the valley from the old city walls that still encircle Rothenburg.
In the 1930s, John J. McCloy's mother visited one of the most beautiful medieval cities in the world, Rothenburg ob der Tauber* in Germany, where she walked the cobbled streets, strolled through the gardens, and sketched as many scenes as possible.  When she returned to the United States, she couldn't stop talking about this beautiful place where every turn revealed another setting that should be captured in an oil painting.  Her impressionable son hung on his mother's every word, studied the picture of the city that hung in the McCloy living room, and vowed to some day explore this magical place that conjured so many dreams.

City walls and guard towers.
Before he could visit it, though, he'd have to find a way to save it from being demolished during World War II. Hitler had told all his forces to let cities burn rather than surrender, but USA Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, was determined to try to save the city his mother had taught him to love.

Thankfully, the local German commander, Major Thommes, had also fallen under Rothenburg's spell and was ready to defy Hitler by brokering a peace agreement.  That's the only reason the city stands today. We owe it all to a traveler just like us.

When you visit this remarkable city, you will walk the streets that first enchanted Mrs. McCloy.

                                      Maybe catch a parade.

Stroll through the formal castle gardens and enjoy the flowers as well as the views of the valleys below.

You may want to try to capture the beauty just as Mrs. McCloy did almost a hundred years ago.
When you tire of the gardens, turn back into town and peer into courtyards...

                ...or look to see if the storks are at home today.

When you get tired, stop in one of the charming restaurants gracing almost every street and alley in Rothenburg for a treat.

                     I doubt you'll be disappointed in what you find.
Apple strudel with vanilla ice cream.
Practicalities -

In 1948, McCloy was named Honorary Protectorate of Rothenburg.

You can learn about McCloy and much more on the entertaining Night Watchman's Tour.  Meet in the Market Place Square at 8:00 (Double-check the time at the tourist office, also on Market Place Square.), March through December.  Tour costs €7 and is one of the best experiences you will have in the town!

*Just like Cher or Madonna, only the big stars in Germany like Berlin and Munich have only one name; all the smaller towns seem to have a first and last, and sometimes even a middle, name!  Rothenburg ob der Tauber translates to something like Red Village on the Tauber [River].

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos - eyecatching, colourful, meaningful! And, as always, great article ! Thanks for sharing ...