The Castle Garden in Rothenburg is the site where the royal family of Hohenstaufen established its imperial castle in 1142. King Conrad III reigned over his kingdom from here, but was the only ruler who actually used Rothenburg Castle. As his sons died relatively early, the castle quickly lost its importance, but not before it had formed the seed for the germination of the town.
Starting from the castle, the settlement spread over the hill, until it had become one of the ten largest towns in the Holy Roman Empire by the year 1400, with a population of over 6,000. An earthquake destroyed the castle complex in 1356 and the stones of the ruins – a valuable commodity at the time – were used to build the city walls. Only the Chapel of St. Blaise was renovated after the quake. However this building was not originally a chapel, but rather the 'Upper Ducal House', probably the conference building where the king received his guests. The building was dedicated as a chapel after the renovation and now serves as a memorial to the fallen of the two World Wars. The Chapel of St. Blaise is also the site of the memorial to the pogrom of 1298, the original of which is in the Imperial Town Museum.
After entering the Castle Gardens, the visitor will be drawn to the wonderful view of the southern part of the town and the Tauber Valley to the left, as well as the Double Bridge and the Kobolzeller Church.
Another interesting feature of the Castle Gardens are the geometric flower beds from the 17th/18th century with eight sandstone figures representing the four seasons and the four elements.
If you look into the valley having passed through the gardens, you will see a bright blue tower, known as the Topplerschlösschen, the House of Mayor Toppler. Built in 1388, it was built by the powerful Mayor Toppler for his own pleasure. Previously surrounded by water, the castle is where he met with dignitaries such as King Wenzel. There is also a memorial to Toppler in the Castle Gardens. Since September 2010, the park is also adorned with a column in memory of the royal house of the Hohenstaufen dynasty.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.