My tour of Rothenburg ob der Tauber began early in the morning at the Rödertor, shown in the photo above, which is one of five gates into this preserved Medieval walled city. Located on the east side of Rothenburg, this is the gate that is the closest to the Bahnhof (train station). It is a ten minute walk from the station to the Rödertor entrance on Ansbachstrasse.
The two structures flanking the Rödertor are round buildings where customs officials formerly collected a toll fee. In Medieval times, Rothenburg was at the crossroads of the two most important roads in the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation; it was one of the 8 largest German cities and the richest city in the German states. Today Rothenburg is at the intersection of the Romantic Road and the Castle Road which are heavily traveled by tourists.
Note the small pedestrian door on the right side of the large entrance gate. On Saturday and Sunday, the Rödertor entrance is closed to vehicles, but pedestrians can enter or exit through the small opening. The Galgentor entrance, also called the Würzberg gate, is always open when the other gates are closed.
The photo below shows a view of the inside of the Röder bastion with the Röder tower in the background.
The word Röder is a reference to the court system which Rothenburg had, by virtue of being a free imperial city; Rothenburg had all the rights of a state in the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. On the left side of Ansbachstrasse, near the Rödertor entrance, is a beautiful building which houses the present court of Rothenburg. Near the courthouse, outside the city wall, is a triangular-shaped cemetery with a small chapel. There were no burials inside the old city.
Rothenburg was surrounded by two moats, called Graben in German. One was a dry moat and the other was filled with water. The photo above shows the bridge over one of the moats.
After driving through the Rödertor bastion, tourists then enter the old city through the gate in the Röder tower. The photo below, taken from inside the city, shows the tower as you are looking back towards the gate.
Notice the stone wall on either side, behind the tower. This is the wall that surrounds the entire city, a distance of 3.5 kilometers. The wall has a covered walkway for 2.5 kilometers. There are stairs at the Rödertor which provide access to the walkway, shown in the photo below.
You can climb up into the tower where there is an exhibition of photos about the bombing of Rothenburg by American planes on March 31, 1945, about six weeks before World War II ended on May 8, 1945. Forty percent of the city was destroyed by the bombs, but the damaged part of the old wall has been restored, thanks to donations that poured in from all over the world. New houses built in the old style have replaced the bombed homes in the residential section where civilians were killed.