Rothenburg ob der Tauber 

One of the parts of this project that brings me a lot of pleasure is just going through the old photoalbums of Kurt Hielscher and become mezmerised by his photos, by the imagination how life had been in the interbellum period. And then it is a small step from imagining to longing to visit the place and discover it. It was a really helpful exercise for me during the pandemic. Rothenburg ob der Tauber was one of the places that got my attention. In fact it became a metaphore for enjoying a more or less normal life again, to be back in business. During the winter of 2021-2022 I even made a puzzle of Rothenburg ob der Tauber with one of its most characteristic squares on it that increased the longing and the metaphore, so when I had the chance to go, I did. It was at the end of December 2022. Kurt Hielscher published a stunning 11 photos from Rothenburg ob der Tauber in his book. I did not manage to rephotograph them all, though we spend a full afternoon after we had lunch, an evening and a morning in the city centre, which was an easy walk from the Wohnmobilstellplatz the three times we went in.

Puzzle made by me with lots of help from my familymembers finished the 4th of February 2022. With the puzzel on the table for weeks, you can imagine how strong longing became. 

The most famous view of Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Plönlein where the Spitalgasse goes into the u. Schmiedgasse and comes together with the Kobolzeller Steige resulting in the characteristic view. Photo: Casper Molenaar in the evening of the 28th of December 2022.

Hegereiterhaus, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Hegereiterhaus, 28th of December 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

The 1591 built so called Hegereiterhaus or gamekeeper's house, a name that is commonly used for it since the 19th century, is actually used wrongly, because it is in fact a hospital kitchen for the nearby hospital and the living quarters of the hospital's chief administrator. The building is designed by the famous architect Leonhard Weidmann and is situated just off the main street that dives into the center: the Spitalgasse that originates in the Spitalbastein under the Spitaltur.

Nearly 40% of the buildings in Rothenburg ob der Tauber were damaged in WWII. Before the war, it already was place visited by tourists and soon after reconstruction was prioritized with help from all over the world.  

Weißer Turm, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Weißer Turm, 28th of December 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

After the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), the Weißer Turm became known as the starting point of the walk over the Galgengasse on the way to the gallows at the Würzburger Tor, alias Galgentor. During WWII the Weißer Turm was destroyed due to an American air raid, but restored after the war. Probably, that's the explanation for all the differences in between Kurt Hielscher's photo and mine, not so much the tower but the houses surrounding it. These differences made it quite hard for me to find his exact footsteps.

Röderbrunnen, Röderbogen and Markusturm, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Röderbrunnen, Röderbogen and Markusturm, 28th of December 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

The gate and bell tower of the Röderbogen, built in the 12th century as part of the first city wall, can be found at the Rödergasse as well as the the Röderbrunnen in front of the photo. If you take a look at the Brunnen, the fountain, you can see that Kurt Hielscher bent a little when he made his photo and I did not. When you only look at the tower and the houses surrounding it, mine is almost perfect. This comparison shows that it is not easy to rephotograph an old photo. The yellow house in front of the arch on the right was the former toll house. Today you it houses the Romantik Hotel Markusturm. The Markusturm is located directly behind the gate. The tower was built in 1204 for extra protection and was one of the four original watchtowers. At the other side of the gate, just around the corner on the right, one can find the 1250 built Büttelhaus at the foot of the tower. This house served as a makeshift prison, but in 1510 the building was turned into a real prison, that remained until the 18th century. During the Second World War, the building was seriously damaged. Today you will find the Rothenburg City Archives here.

Closer view of the Romantik Hotel Markusturm and Röderbogen.

Büttelhaus, the former prison, at the other side of the gate.

The patrician house behind the George Bronnen has been a pharmacy since 1812. The actual name of the building is Jagstheimerhaus. It was built by order of Mayor Jagstheimerhaus in 1448 and is situated on the Marktplatz, the central square of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The building on the right is the Rathaus, the Town Hall 

Georg Bronnen, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Georg Bronnen, 28th of December 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar

The impressive City Town Hall of Rothenburg with its 51 meter high tower, meant to communicate with the other towers in the city, is not easy to photograph from close by. Kurt Hielscher went to an upper floor in one of its opposite buildings. I couldn't find access and found an electricity power box to stand on, stretched my arm to the max with. My son who stood by was ashamed about his dad balancing on the power box when loads of people passed even more when I climbed back on to make an extra photo with my cellphone. Anyway, this genuine snapshot is the result.

Rathaus, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Rathaus, 28th of December 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

While a previous City Town Hall on the same place was burned down in 1240, the construction of the current building started in 1250. Again due to a fire, in 1501 the market square site facade was damaged and the reconstruction in its current Renaissance style including its tower was ready in 1572. 

Wehrgang, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Wehrgang, 29th of December 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

In the valley of the Tauber river, at the foot of the hill on which Rothenburg ob der Tauber has been built, is a small late medieval residential tower situated: The Topplerschlösschen. It is a nice and quiet stroll down from the crossing of the Panoramaweg and the Weinsteige just outside the city walls of the city center with a nice view on the Taubertal to the "Weiherhaus", a pond house, from 1388, and then again up via the Taubertalweg and the Doppelbrücke to the Wohnmobilstellplatz where I met my family again. The pond was dried up when I tried to find the right spots for both Kurt Hielscher's photos, but I was hindered by bushes, fences and walls of private residential areas from both sides. I did try to get in by ringing a door bell, but nobody was at home. So I ended up standing on my toes behind a wall to catch the best angle to rephotograph both photos.

Topplerschlösschen, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Topplerschlösschen, 28th of December 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Gate Topplerschlösschen, 1924. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Attempts to find the gate of the Topplerschlösschen, 28th of December 2022. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

The famous Plönlein just after we jumped into the city center for the first time with Kim on the left.

Below: view on Rothenburg ob der Tauber from a distance coming from the Topplerschlösschen where I wanted to rephotograph one of Kurt Hielscher's photos.

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher