Do you love the idea of a medieval city’s being saved from the conqueror’s torch by a Lord Mayor with a wine-drinking capacity for the ages? How does that compare, in your estimation, to another medieval city where every October the inns and restaurants dust off recipes and prepare meals from cookbooks written in the time of Germany’s Margraves?
How about visiting still another town which devotes an entire week each October to its Fish Harvest, when all events revolve around the lowly but delicious local carp? Then there are the castles, the cloisters, the castles, the museums, and the castles! Put all of them together and you can only be in Frankenhöhe (English: Franconian Heights)!
It’s really true!
Only the prodigious wine-guzzling talents of its Lord Mayor Nusch, in 1631, saved the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber from destruction at the hands of an occupying army during the Thirty Year’s War. The general agreed to spare the town if the Lord Mayor could drain an entire 3.25 litre/3.4 quart tankard of wine in one attempt.
Legend has it that the Lord Mayor did so in ten minutes!
Most visitors to Rothenburg would have loved to be flies on the wall in that tavern, but will have to settle for the five daily renewals of the event performed by mechanical figures at the City Councillors’ Tavern. In between performances, they can wander along cobblestoned lanes and duck their heads beneath the truncated doorways of ancient half-timbered shops and eating establishments.
All of this occurs behind Rothenburg’s massive stone walls, protecting what is now Germany’s most perfectly preserved medieval town. Every bit of the charm that sleeps behind those walls, however, Frankenhöhe matches outside them with its natural beauty and other historic sites.
By following the Romantic Road south from Rothenburg you’ll reach the moated and gabled town of Dinkelsbühl. Here, at the end of July, the town’s children reenact the feat of their forebears who, during the Thirty Year’s War, saved Dinkelsbühl by pleading with its Swedish occupiers. Perhaps those Swedish occupiers weren’t such bad fellows after all!
The Kinderzech would be the high point of Dinkelsbühl’s year, were it not for Fish Harvest Week in late October, when all thoughts turn to celebrating the cuisine based on locally raised carp. Speaking of Frankenhöhe cuisine…
You can experience a dining adventure like no other by showing up for dinner in the town of Ansbach during October (perhaps before you sample that Dinkelsbuhl carp). Ansbach’s rococo glory, with its churches of St. Johannis and St. Gumbertus and the 27-room Margrave Palace, will be a feast for your eyes.
After touring the town, head for one of the inns or dining establishments, because each October they dust off their Margrave-era recipes, update them with 21st century flair, and bring that party-going age back to boisterous life!
Finally, don’t leave the Franconian Heights without a closer look at the village of Schillingsfürst, where the gleam from the hundreds of windows of the Baroque clifftop castle can be seen for miles. That gleam will be reflected in the piercing eyes of residents of the Castle’s magnificent falconry, from which falcons, vultures, and eagles are released in a dramatic open air display of their flying and hunting skills.
Let your heart soar with them as you dream of your next stay in Frankenhöhe! ;-)