The Loreley (Lorelei) is arguably the most famous location/landmark in the Rhine Valley.
It is in fact a rock situated at one of the narrowest parts of the Rhine, where the river turns through 90 degrees in its journey to the North Sea.The narrowness of the river at this point and the sharp bend in the river give rise to strong currents. These together with submerged rocks led in the past to many a ship foundering, often with loss of life.
Folklore has it that a myth arose to explain the fatal character of this bend in the Rhine.The myth is that a beautiful maiden (Lorelei) threw herself into the river because of a faithless lover and was then transformed into a siren who lured sailors to their death.
The strong echo effect of the rock helps to enhance the idea of a siren mystically singing in the background.
The truth I am afraid is a little more mundane - the legend of the beautiful maiden actually owes its existence to a poem written by Clemens Bretano in 1801. What a pity - I find the folklore version far more romantic!
A better known poem regarding the Lorelei is that of the same name written Heinrich Heine.(Heine's poem in German and English) This absolutely delightful little poem has been set to music (Loreley song) and is traditionally played on the Rhine cruise boats when they pass the this famous landmark.
At the top of the Loreley rock is a beer garden - I would say a beer garden with a view not to be surpassed in all Germany.To sit here on a fine summers day enjoying a cold beer and watching the magnificent Rhine wending its way 120 meters (ca. 370 feet) below has to be one of the highlights of a holiday in the Rheingau.
I have no idea how many times we have been there in the last 19 years
but the magic has never waned and as soon as the weather permits we
will be there again.(For those who do not enjoy beer Rheingau wines and
an array of soft drinks can also be ordered.)