The Rhine Valley and its Fairytale Castles

After spending the night in Nuremberg, we continued our journey toward France through the Rhine Valley. Moving on between Bingen and Koblenz, we were getting closer and closer to the legendary Lorelei Rock, all the while passing through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. This is the most spectacular part along the entire valley. Its 1,320 km of water flow make the Rhine the 10th longest in Europe. It is the most efficient naval artery and one of the most important water sources on the continent. When reaching Main, the river changes its direction. It doesn’t flow toward the north anymore. Instead, it heads toward west, where it makes its way through steep hills and cliffs. The area between Mainz and Koblenz is about 65 km long and it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

It was a wonderful August day. From the windows of the car, we watched the impressive scenery as it was unwinding too fast before our eyes. On one side, we saw cruise boats over the blue waters of the Rhine. On the other side, cliffs rise above the river and castles are spread around on higher or lower ridges in the valley. There’s no other place on Earth with so many castles in such a small surface area. There are over forty castles and citadels. Some are ruins while others have been renovated and transformed into elegant hotels, restaurants or museums that still manage to keep a touch of authenticity. It’s not only the overwhelming number of castles that makes this valley so interesting, but also the small cities set along the river, surrounded by fortifications and towers, with centuries-old churches and endless vineyards. The main source of income of the inhabitants in the valley comes from the famous vineyards. These are arranged in straight lines and annoyingly perfect curves on the steep forty degree hills, in hundreds of small terraces.

We made a pit stop in front of the legendary Lorelei Rock. We took some pictures of this important attraction. A series of shows and rock concerts are held on the rocky plateau above on cliff. The Lorelei Rock is 132 m high and lies on the eastern bank of the Rhine. In this very place, the river is 25 m deep and only 113 m wide. This is the narrowest and, at the same time, the deepest spot along the navigable Rhine. The area is still considered dangerous by sailors, although the main threat was diminished back in 1930, when a great part of the underwater cliffs were blown up. Among the gift shops that were selling a handful of items, from souvenirs to renowned wines from the area, we found the statue of Lorelei, the fairy.

Lorelei is a very beautiful fairy, with shiny blonde hair, smoothed with a golden comb. Her charming voice lured sailors, making them forget about the dangers ahead, leading them to their death in the whirling waters of the Rhine. This legend is also sung in ballads. The Lorelei ballad tells of a girl called Lore, who was so beautiful that it made men lose their minds. The girl was accused of witchcraft. Upon seeing the girl’s beauty, the archbishop was unable to sentence her to death and sent her to a convent instead. Lore was escorted by three knights. Heartbroken by the loss of her boyfriend, who cheated on her, Lore managed to escape from her guardians. She ran to the top of a cliff and jumped into the waters of the Rhine.

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