DINKELSBÜHL, 48km south of Rothenburg ob der Tauber along the Romantic Road, is another medieval gem. Though it lacks the sparkle of Rothenburg’s hilly setting, making do with the placid River Wörnitz, some parkland and a few large ponds to set off its perfectly preserved medieval fortifications, it boasts an Altstadt which is, if anything, even more flawless, having escaped damage in World War II. It’s also less overwhelmed by tourism. Like Rothenburg, Dinkelsbühl was once a free imperial city; it changed hands eight times in the Thirty Years’ War, but after it was occupied by the Swedes in 1632 it was largely spared further damage.
The Altstadt measures just 1km from northwest to southeast, and is barely 500m wide from Segringer Tor in the west to Wörnitz Tor in the east. A walk around the outside of the medieval walls is therefore not only instructive but enjoyable. Once within the walls, there’s hardly anything to disturb the illusion of medieval perfection. It’s just a short walk from Wörnitz Tor to the Altes Rathaus, the oldest parts of which date back to 1361.