The Historical Vault – Museum above Rothenburg’s dungeon
Deep below the Gothic town hall building at the former jail cells of Rothenburg ob der Tauber are located, in which the legendary mayor Heinrich Toppler (around 1340 to 1408) also ended up. You can still see these underground cells through the Historical Vault of the association for the historic festival “Der Meistertrunk”. With a distinctive selection of original weapons, banners and uniforms, the Historical Vault transports visitors into the time of the 30-Year War. Some scenes from daily life at this time are depicted here.
A dungeon, but no show
The historic cells are also promoted as the “Rothenburg Dungeon” to English-speaking guests. But in contrast to similarly named venues in Hamburg or London, this is less about shock effects and show but rather about the real trepidation caused by a genuine medieval jail cell. The Rothenburg dungeon is entered through a narrow, low passage – it’s dark here and the stones are wet and cold. And when you get to the three cells, you can easily imagine how anguishing an incarceration in these dark holes must have been. In front of the cells is an eye-catching rack made of wood – the only shock effect added in later times in the Rothenburg dungeon. Presumably no one was ever tortured in this cellar.
The exhibition in the Historical Vault – An association that marks the city
Above the dungeon the exhibition of the historic festival “Der Meistertrunk” is staged, which explains the events during the 30-Year War and, with original showpieces, imparts an impression of how the war was fought. The association has 900 members and during Whitsun, they turn the entire old city into a huge field camp. The exhibition rooms were once used by the Chamber of Commerce for the markets around city hall. Today, the first thing you see is a cannon from the 30-Year War pointing right at you. A banner from this terrible time reflects the battles that it went through. Many of the carefully restored weapons and uniforms displayed in the museum were once actually used – and you can still clearly see this in some of them. Facts and stories from the 30-Year War are represented tangibly in the form of play scenes in the Historical Vault of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.