Length 5.7 km (3.5 miles), terrain: a few hills, gain 147 meters
Rothenburg is, for good reason, one of the most visited towns in Germany. It combines so much medieval charm into one small area, that it's hard to find a town that can top its enchantment. It has about everything you'd like to see in a medieval setting: intact town walls and gate towers, lots of old half-timbered and Renaissance-era buildings, a location perched on the bluffs above a winding, green river valley, and lots more.
So, if you're lucky enough to be standing on the market square with your running shoes on, take a look around before we head off. That big, stone, Renaissance-style building with the arcaded front is the town hall (Rathaus).
|At the market square|
|The Rathaus front entrance, with snow flurries!|
We'll have to do without a tankard of wine, but it should be a great run anyway....
|Heugasse from the rooftops|
After a few blocks, you'll come to the Schrammeplatz, a square used as a parking lot, with the massive town walls blocking the way in front of you. There's a little gate through the wall here, and you have the choice of following the course of the wall by either going outside, or taking those steps to the top of the wall and running along the ramparts, or running along the lanes that line the insides of the walls.
|Along the ramparts|
So climb to the top, if you'd like, and turn left to run westwards along the ramparts. Needless to say, you need to watch your step, and take care not to upset the other people who are just walking along the wall. This section of wall ends in just 200 meters, and you have to take the steps downward at the Klingentor tower.
|View over town from the ramparts|
|View along the Tauber Valley walls|
Once past the church, turn right to run west on Klostergasse, which will curve past the Burghotel towards the left and come out in a little square at the clock-tower called the Burgturm. We'll now exit the town through the tower gate, heading out through the walled compound that once housed the castle. Now it is just a garden.
|The castle gate at night|
|The trail markers|
NOTE: If you want to follow some of the other marked hiking trails, here is an English-language page listing them: https://www.rothenburg.de/welcome/sport-active/hiking/hiking-trails/
After crossing the bridge, follow the trail to the left, next to the quiet Taubertalweg road. You'll run through the Fuchsmühle watermill complex, then continue as the road heads uphill and curves around a bend in the river southwards past more mills and farmhouses.
The road continues curving and joins into Leuzenbronner Straße and continues northeast before curving to the right and crossing the very cool old stone bridge over the river. This is a double-decker bridge, with two sets of arches.
Let's get a closer look by circling under the bridge to the right and following the path along the riverside, still following the number 3 trail.
The Panoramaweg trail (an old shoe as a trail symbol) now takes us past vineyards and zig-zags its way up the hill, back into town through the gate at Kobolzeller Tor.
|The Panoramaweg below town|
At the Spitalkirche (hospice church) you might want to circle it around the back side to see the beautiful courtyard of the old hospice, with its round-towered Hegereiter-Haus, the amphitheater and some other impressive buildings.
|Carnival-goers at the amphitheater|
|At the bastion|
Let's run along the top of the walls again, so find the first steps upwards. The walls take us northwards for a while, then turn right to follow a lane called Röderschütt. We'll run through a few more towers and then pass the strangely beautiful medieval smithy called Gerlachschmiede, with its pointed front and curving roof. I like it!
|The Gerlachschmiede from the ramparts|
In a few blocks, you'll come to another especially scenic spot, where a flower-draped fountain provides a great foreground for the Markusturm straight ahead. The Markusturm is a clock-tower gate leading us into the oldest part of town, with the old market square straight ahead.