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5:50pm on Thursday, 1st January, 2009:

Places I'd Like to Visit #10


Continuing the occasional series...

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, in Germany.

Rothenburg is one of those beautifully-preserved medieval cities in the heart of Europe that anyone with an ounce of wonder at the past will love. It was only bombed discreetly during the war, and the commander defending it surrendered rather than have it damaged by tanks and street-to-street fighting, so it's in pretty good nick. It's the sort of place that if I were nearby with a day to spare, I'd certainly wish to visit.

The same can be said of many places in central Europe, though. For example, I liked the idea of visiting Graz in Austria, and when I was asked to give a talk there a few years ago, well, naturally I jumped at the chance. I was never going to go out of my way to go there, though. With Rothenburg, I would.

The reason I actively want to visit Rothenburg is because of a picture. Specifically, a picture of this:

It's the Siebers Tower on the left part of the Plönlein fork, on a street called Spitalgasse. The normal view is of the whole of Plönlein (with Koboldzellersteig off to the right — see Wikipedia's version), but it's only the left part that's important to me. The reason for this is that only the left part was in the paint-by-numbers kit my dad bought when I was a kid. He painted it, and hung the result on the wall in our living room, behind the TV. It was there all the time I was growing up, of a place simultaneously beautiful yet remote; it received much attention from my imagination, and consequently is sits comfortably in my list of places I'd like to visit.

The picture is not hanging on the wall any more; I think it was damaged at some point (hmm, I guess I should have asked my dad before I drove home today!). It's not the picture so much as what it conjures up for me that makes me want to see the reality, though.

Will I ever get to Rothenburg? Well, it's possible, yes. It would probably have to be on a holiday, which would mean persuading my wife to go there (a tough ask), but it's not completely out of the question. It's enough for me to hold out hope for, anyway.

I have a jigsaw puzzle of that same view somewhere, too. The painting-by-numbers made the lasting impression, though...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).