Friday, 26 January 2024, 19:18
Yes, that's its real name: the Romantic Road. It is one of the most popular tourist routes in Europe, similar to other hotspots following the Loire or the Danube. It was created in 1950, starting in Würzburg and ending in Füssen. It connects 29 cities and towns full of dreamy, medieval castles set in lush landscapes, with plenty of traditional cuisine, wines and beer. If love could be measured on a thermometer, then travelling the whole road would fill your heart to bursting. If you only cover a few stages, romance will still be in the air.
The first stage heads out from Würzburg, capital of the district of Lower Franconia, to Rothenburg. Würzburg sits on the banks of the mighty Main. It is protected by the imposing, medieval Marienburg Castle and is home to the typical hustle and bustle of a university city. Following the babbling waters of the River Tauber, we head towards Wertheim, where you must visit the Glasmuseum (Glass Museum), for which Wertheim is known as the glass-blowing capital of Germany. The town also boasts cobbled streets, centuries-old houses, a medieval town centre and its famous castle keep, one of the most symbolic in the country. In Tauberbischofsheim we come across more fortresses, this time from the 13th century, and another museum... of fencing. Let's not forget the wine that is produced in the vineyards covering the gently sloping hills surrounding Lauda-Königshofen. A great place to sample this wine at leisure is on the terraces of Marktplatz in Bad Mergentheim, a large town where it is also worth visiting Deutschordensschloss (Palace of the Teutonic Knights), after a few glasses of course.
You will have to get a move on as there are still good places to stop off and see: from Brattenstein Castle and Sonnenuhrenweg (a walking trail showing unusual clocks) in the walled city of Röttingen, then to St George's Church in Creglingen, not forgetting to catch some of the Renaissance architecture of Weikersheim. We arrive in Rothenburg, where it is worth taking a break (and a beer) to relax. Check out the perfectly preserved city wall over two kilometres long, an overwhelming medieval architectural heritage, the central square (Marktplatz) with its town hall façade crowned by an astronomical clock, the largest Christmas gift shop in the world (Käthe Wohlfahrt) and the Kriminalmuseum (Medieval Crime and Justice Museum).
A quick look at Harburg and we end up in Donauwörth, where two rivers meet (Danube and Wörnitz). The Reichstrasse winds through the town, a grand street dominated by beautiful bourgeois houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. After passing through Rain (a garden town), we set foot in Augsburg, one of the jewels of the Romantic Road, a city full of grandiose, Renaissance architecture, whose crowning glories are the Golden Hall inside the town hall and the grand Fuggerhouse.
It is worth spending a day here, giving you time to climb up the bell tower of the Gothic cathedral and the Perlachturm, the city's iconic medieval tower. You should not miss the chance to wander through the alleys of the Fuggerei, the oldest functioning social housing complex in the world.
The Romantic Road needs at least six or seven days to take it all in without rushing it. Coming to the end of the route and heading towards the Alps, we find Friedberg with its historic city centre, Landsberg am Lech, Hohenfurch with spectacular, panoramic views of the Alps, Peiting famed for its open-air market, Schongau, Wildsteig, Steingaden, Halblech and Schwangau. Finally, the Romantic Road culminates in Füssen, birthplace of the impressive, fairy-tale-like Neuschwanstein Castle.
This masterpiece of architectural Romanticism is an iconic castle that you will have seen appear in a number of films. With pointy towers, creamy white walls, perched on top of a hill and surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery - well, if Cupid's arrow doesn't strike your heart here, then it never will. Two tips to add on here ...fly to Frankfurt or Munich to repeat the route, but this time try the food at these restaurants: Bürgerspital-Weinstuben in Würzburg and Alter Keller in Rothenburg.
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