Anno Domini 1631 — the situation in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is dire. Sixty thousand starving soldiers are about to ransack the little town in Germany’s Franconia. The Catholic general Johann Tserclaes von Tilly sends all his forces against the walls of Protestant Rothenburg. Johann is not known for mercy, and when the town finally surrenders, everybody expects their soon and cruel death.
In the very last moment, Johann offers the town a deal: Should one of the town councilors be capable of emptying a goblet with 3/4 liter of wine in one go, he would spare the town. Brave Mayor Georg Nusch takes up the challenge and saves Rothenburg and its inhabitants in the very last minute.
This wonderful legend has been celebrated since 1881 with a gigantic open air and indoor play called “Der Meistertrunk.” or the The Master Draught. The entire city is turned into a historical site with markets, military camps and an army with authentic costumes and weaponry. More than 900 actors participate in this unique public play, and merchants and inhabitants of Rothenburg take pride in presenting a most authentic environment.
During the Whitsun holidays from June 6 to 8, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of the most memorable and best kept medieval towns in Germany, hosts the replay of the legend.
On June 6, the historic crafts market will open at the Grüner Markt. The historic play will then take place at 8 p.m. in the town hall.
The following Saturday will have the motto “Besieged Town,” and troops and vigilantes will meet all over downtown starting at noon.
Children can learn how people lived in the year 1631 on Herrngasse, whereas parents can get ready for the continuation of the play in the town hall at 3 and 5:30 p.m. Later that evening, around 8 p.m., all actors will march to the festival place with music and entertainment.
White Sunday, June 8, will see the memorable rescue operation. Plundering soldiers will be all over town until the play comes to its final stage at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. In the afternoon at 3 p.m., the historic army will march through Rothenburg, and the party will continue until late that evening. On June 9, troops will be in the market place starting at 10 a.m. At 1 p.m., a special program will be shown for children and families at the fest meadow, and at 7 p.m., Johann will announce his departure.
Tickets for the indoor plays can be booked online and range from €6 to €14. There are reduced prices for minors in second and third category seating. For tickets, visit www.meistertrunk.de and click on “order online.”
The local tourist information at www.tourismus.rothenburg.de offers online booking for accommodation and maps. For a webcam view of the city, visit www.tourismus.rothenburg.de/index.php?id=481.