A trip to Hell

On our second day in Rothenburg, we figured we would stop into a few museums and learn a little more about its history. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not typically  a huge fan of museum-going because I find them to be a bit of a snooze.

But, the museums you find in Rothenburg aren’t your usual set of galleries and artifacts, which is precisely why I decided to forgo my rule and hop in for a peak.

So, with a new schneeball in hand, we traversed up the road and onwards to our next adventure.

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Our first stop was just off the main square at Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village.

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Here, the team has collected trinkets and ornaments of Christmases past and present. So many in fact, that there is a museum inside which is fully dedicated to the history of Christmas.

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We walked through the entrance, exchanged our tickets for a big gold coin, and followed the blue carpet up the stairs to the German Christmas Museum.

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The walls were dotted with snowflakes and lights twinkled above, while Silent Night calmly played in the background. Talk about setting the right ambiance.

Walking through the hallways, glass cases were filled with old ornaments and figurines, paired with little blurbs on the history of their development.

Each christmas ball getting more detailed and more shiny as the years went by.

rothenburg christmas museum

rothenburg christmas museum

rothenburg christmas museum

rothenburg christmas museum

We read about the history of Christmas trees and the giant Christmas pyramids used in churches. Until this trip, I had never seen a Christmas pyramid before, but I found them to be quite whimsical and enchanting. The giant fan spins round and round, fuelled by the fire of the burning tea lights below, and as it spins, it rotates the different levels with it.

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There was also of course, a collection of Santa Clauses – some spooky, some jolly, and some looking like your average grandpa.

rothenburg christmas museum

Upon ending the tour, we wrote our names on a Christmas Ornament and hung them on the tree, leaving with a newfound appreciation of the holiday.

rothenburg german christmas museum

rothenburg german christmas museumAfter exiting the museum, we followed the steps into the many levels of Kathe’s Christmas Village, surrounded by rows and rows of ornaments, Christmas decor, handmade wooden figurines, and a massive Christmas tree. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in here, I think you’re out of luck.

Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. All I will say is that if there’s one thing Rothenburg seems to know, it’s Christmas.

The village is free to enter and the museum costs 4 Euros (or 2.50 during off-season).

Before leaving, I sifted through the ornaments, picked out a glass one for home, and then it was back out into the glorious sunshine.

Knowing that it was already snowing back home, we took the chance to bathe in the warmth as we strolled through the main park.

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Taking in the panoramic views of the town.

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And of course, admiring the fall colours.rothenburg germany

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Looking at the time, we realized we needed to head on towards our next stop if we were to make it before close: the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum. Given that we both practice law, this museum seemed particularly interesting (and potentially a little creepy).

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Beginning in the dungeon, the museum takes you through the history of crime and torture in Rothenburg, riddled with old torture tools, artifacts, and legal documents.

Kriminal Museum
Kriminal Museum

Because it was near closing, we booked it through the top two levels – stopping to look at the masks for those sentenced to public humiliation.

Kriminal Museum

 

Each iron mask was crafted to symbolize the crime – from gossiping to public intoxication. The convicted would then stand in a cage for a day or two while the town walked by and laughed.

Can you imagine if we still did that today? I think the entire city of Calgary would be in one of those cages come Saturday mornings…

Again, tickets were pretty cheap (5 Euros) and I would recommend a visit, even if only for an hour or two.

Upon leaving, we walked back down the cobblestone roads that were now filled with people. The sun shone upon the medieval homes and some of the streets looked too beautiful to be real.

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We walked back along the wall just as the sun was setting, and happened on a small carnival below. Stopping to listen to the music, we took in the scent of fried dough and sweet gluewhine.

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After a little rest at our hotel and a few bites of the chocolates I purchased back in Lucerne, we debated where to eat dinner. It really wasn’t much of a debate though, because there was only one place on my mind. Tonight, we were going to hell.

As I mentioned in my last post, the oldest building in Rothenburg dates back to the 900s. It used to be alone on a dark road, which brings a bit of meaning to its name: Zur Holl (or in English, Hell).

Dimly lit and divided into many small rooms, we were told that Hell is a local favourite for food and drinks.

Arriving just around 7:00, we were seated in a tiny area which was likely a kitchen back in the old days. Completely private and sandwiched between the cellar (a room for larger groups) and the main dining area, we sat in the candle light and enjoyed each other’s company.

After glancing through the menu, I chose the pork ribs and Cole went for the daily special.

Then, we sat back and watched as the tables began filling up – and within a half hour, Hell was full.

Our candle flickered as we laughed over our favourite memories and in no time, our meals arrived.

The pork ribs, incredibly tender and flavourful, fell off the bone with each bite. Paired perfectly with a simple and fresh salad made of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber – and, you guessed it, french vinaigrette.

zur holl rothenburg reviewThe special of the day was venison, paired with brussel sprouts and ravioli. Cole too, gobbled it right up, after which (to our complete surprise), our server asked if he would like a little extra sides. Um…yes please!!

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Everything was so fresh and flavourful and I insist you stop in for a visit. Even if it’s only to say that you’ve been to hell and it’s not so bad.

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I need to give a shout out to our server, who waited on each and every table that night. We watched him hustle around the room – making drinks, taking orders, and bringing out food – all while staying cheerful and attentive. At no point did we feel like we were ignored or forgotten, which is something you would never see happen here in Canada.

After dinner, we sat and took in the atmosphere, until we finally had a little bit of room in our stomachs for dessert.

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Upon our server’s recommendation, we went for the deep fried apple slices and vanilla ice cream – and holy crap, was it ever good.

zur holl rothenburg review

Basically a German take on apple pie, the apples had a chewy outer layer but were soft and tender on the inside. Dusted with cinnamon sugar, I don’t think either of us truly wanted to share that third piece.

I couldn’t give Hell a higher recommendation. Dinner was romantic, intimate, and absolutely delicious. Just thinking about those pork ribs has my mouth watering.

Afterwards, we walked back through the dark streets of Rothenburg and flopped into bed.

In the morning, we woke up leisurely, grabbed a bit of the breakfast buffet, and headed out for one last glance of Rothenburg’s beauty.

Every single step is so picturesque, you could stand there for days capturing each angle.

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And obviously, we did just that.IMG_0910

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After a quick pit stop into the tourist shops for souvenirs, we were back on the road.

This time, finding the weaves of the Romantic Road and travelling up and through it onwards to the end point: Wurzburg.

We made a quick stop in Dinkelsbuhl and again, walked along the city wall.

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Walking along the old walls is the perfect way to see a bit of nature, walk through old bridges, and of course, catch a few glimpses of old stone turrets.

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dinkelsbuhl germany

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And on the way back down to town, it’s the perfect chance to admire the colourful houses on each narrow street.

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dinkelsbuhl germany

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dinkelsbuhl germany

We stopped in for a tea and then headed back on the road. But, after a few wrong turns and lengthy diversions, we got tired of the poor signage along the Romantic Road and hopped onto the nearest highway. I only say this to advise you that if you’re planning on driving the entire Romantic Road, get a map and leave lots of time!

We, however, had somewhere to be and tomorrow I’ll show you why we were in such a rush.

The making of this post was sponsored by Tourism Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Walking around the town is great, but I always find that I appreciate it so much more if I know a little bit of the history. Both the museums we stopped at were unique and a great learning experience, so I definitely recommend checking them out! And trust me, if you don’t go to Hell, you’ll be sorry.

Share your thoughts below.