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Romantic Road from the River Main to the Alps
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History

A tourist route is not created every day. In 1950, the first signs of the economic miracle began to emerge. A visit to the cinema cost one deutschmark and anyone who could call a car their own in the new Federal Republic of Germany had already gone a long way. Today, nobody can say what gave the founders of the Romantic Road the courage to launch one of Germany's first tourist routes. Indeed, their names are now largely unknown even between Würzburg and Füssen. In the American occupied part of a Germany divided into four zones, they pinned their hopes on a stream of tourists from the USA.

Tourists came in ever increasing numbers. And not just from the United States. Today, the name Romantic Road can also be seen on the road signs in Japanese. Initially, of course, the name became known among American soldiers who took their families on vacation here. However, the Augsburg founders wanted more. Their aim was to rehabilitate Germany as a holiday destination following the years of Nazi terror. With the medieval towns along the Romantic Road, they wanted to show not only Americans but also holiday makers from all over the world a different, lively and multifarious picture of Germany – a country fully integrated into the history of Europe.

No other German tourist route is as well known throughout the world as the Romantic Road. For example, according to a poll conducted in the nineties, 93 percent of the Japanese who are capable of travelling have heard of it, i.e., almost all. The future, when one in two Japanese will have travelled the Romantic Road seems close at hand when, shortly after nine, the morning tranquillity in the Pfaffenwinkel district is broken as coach after coach unloads its cargo of Japanese guests at the parking area near the famous Church in the Meadow.

But what is the Romantic Road? If a straight line is the shortest connection between two points, the Romantic Road is undoubtedly the most attractive connection between more than two dozen South German towns, all of which hold staring places in travel guides on the region. The best known of them are Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the wine, cathedral and Baroque city of Würzburg, Füssen, Augsburg, the city of the Fugger family and silver, and the small but delightful town of Dinkelsbühl. Visitors who have already travelled the length of the Romantic Road will be able to add to these names. Landsberg, perhaps, or Nördlingen. Bad Mergentheim with its Castle of the Teutonic Order and Feuchtwangen. It is the towns that exercise the real power of attraction along the Romantic Road.

In principle, one hears today, it was the Romans who built the road. And this is quite true. For the southern part at least and if you can ignore the fact that, like the Romantic Road, the Via Claudia follows the course of the River Lech from Füssen to Augsburg but does so along a different route. In 47 AD, the Via Claudia Augusta was extended via the Reschen and Fern passes and Füssen to Augsburg and then on to the River Danube.