Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a town in the district of Middle Franconia, the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany, well known for its well-preserved medieval old town.
Rothenburg was a Free Imperial City from the late Middle Ages to 1803.
In March 1945 in World War II, German soldiers were stationed in Rothenburg to defend it. On March 31, bombs were dropped over Rothenburg by 16 planes, killing 39 people and destroying 306 houses, six public buildings, nine watchtowers, and over 610 m of the wall.
The U.S Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy knew about the historic importance and beauty of Rothenburg, so he ordered US Army General Jacob L. Devers not use artillery in taking Rothenburg. The local military commander Major Thömmes ignored the order of Adolf Hitler for all towns to fight to the end and gave up the town, thereby saving it from total destruction by artillery. American troops of the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division occupied the town on April 17, 1945, and in November 1948 McCloy was named Honorable Protectorate of Rothenburg. After the war, the residents of the city quickly repaired the bombing damage. Donations for the rebuilding were received from all over the world.
While buildings within the walled city reflect the city's medieval history, a small part of the city is in many ways a normal, modern German town with some concession to the tourist trade. Many stores and hotels catering to tourists are clustered around the Town Hall Square and along several major streets (such as Herrngasse, Schmiedgasse).
I discovered that the best part of the city is found by quickly walking through the tourist area and its “shopping opportunities” to the outside of the old stone rampart walls where gardens have been established. Here you can walk alone and contemplate the history of this place.