Rothenburg's landmark - Plönlein
What exactly is the Plönlein? And where in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is it located? Many guests ask about the landmark and probably most famous photo subject in Rothenburg – here we’ll use it as a starting point for a short tour of the city’s historic residential buildings.
The Plönlein – more than just one building
Many think that the name Plönlein refers to a yellow timber-frame house at the entrance of the Spital quarter. It’s true that the tilted, crooked house is in the center of the Plönlein. The term Plönlein is actually translated as a “small square at a fountain”, which means that the ensemble at the Plönlein also includes the fountain in front of the lone timber-frame house and the two towers of the old city wall that rise to its left and right – on the left the Siebersturm leading to Spital quarter, on the right the tower for the Kobolzeller Tor from 1360, which opens towards the Tauber Valley.
What is Pinocchio doing in Rothenburg?
The Plönlein is a true international star: Many consider the timber-frame house on the Plönlein to represent a typical motif of Rothenburg’s old quarter. Starting with Walt Disney’s classic “Pinocchio” (1940), its architecture is copied by artists, architects and designers whenever they have to depict a typical medieval setting in Europe. It also appears in video games (Tekken Tag Tournament 2), music videos (most recently in LilDicky’s song “Earth”), comics and Japanese mangas (Little Snow Fairy Sugar, 2001).
From Plönlein via the Markusturm to Herrngasse
The Plönlein is a perfect starting point for exploring the most beautiful historic houses in the old quarter. Through Untere Schmiedgasse, visitors walking from the Plönlein will soon reach Alter Stadtgraben. The term “old” (“Alt”) isn’t a coincidence: the moat in front of the original city wall was filled in after the expansion of the old quarter in late 12th century and new residential space was developed here. One of the oldest houses of the time still in its original state can now be visited as a museum, or as part of a tour with the Craftsman’s Widow Walburga: the old Rothenburg Craftsman’s House. From here it’s only a few yards to another world-famous photo subject in Rothenburg, the Roeder Arch and Markusturm. In the 13th century, at the time of the first city wall at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, this was one of four original town gates. You can find more information consulting Rothenburg’s Tower Trail. Around 1900, the roof shape of the Markusturm inspired London architects in their creation of the “Arcade House” and “Temple Fortune House” building ensemble as an entrance to the Hampstead Garden Suburb. More information to these facts please see “Picturesque – Rothenburg as Landscape Gardens”. If you’re watching out for storks in Rothenburg, you’ll find them in spring and summer on the roof of the Markusturm.
A short walk towards the Marktplatz from the Markusturm then takes you towards the magnificent patricians’ street in the west of the city. On the way to the Castle Garden, you can find some of the oldest residences in Rothenburg on Herrngasse. The building now operated as the herrnschlösschen Hotel is considered the oldest stone house in the city.