Sailing Past Lorelei in the Rhine Gorge with AmaWaterways
Sailing past the Lorelei with AmaWaterways as we sail the Rhine Gorge
If you’re interested in seeing castles on your European river cruise, then the Rhine River is absolutely the river of choice. In fact, the Middle Rhine from Bingen to Koblenz is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains 40 castles within a 40-mile stretch in the narrow Rhine Gorge.
And perhaps the most famous and photographed stretch of the Rhine Gorge is that narrow section of the river that bends around the famous Lorelei.
The Lorelei is a 400 foot high, steep slate rock on the right bank of the River Rhine in the Rhine Gorge at Sankt Goarshausen in Germany which you can see in my photograph above (on the left) as another river cruise ship approaches our location on the river as we sailed the Rhine with AmaWaterways.
According to Wikipedia, “the name comes from the old German words lureln, Rhine dialect for “murmuring”, and the Celtic term ley “rock”. The translation of the name would therefore be: “murmur rock” or “murmuring rock”. The heavy currents, and a small waterfall in the area (still visible in the early 19th century) created a murmuring sound, and this combined with the special echo the rock produces to act as a sort of amplifier, giving the rock its name. The murmuring is hard to hear today owing to the urbanization of the area. Other theories attribute the name to the many accidents, by combining the German verb “lauern” (to lurk, lie in wait) with the same “ley” ending, with the translation “lurking rock”.
Folklore and Modern Myth of Lorelei
Continuing with information from Wikipedia, “the rock and the murmur it creates have inspired various tales. An old legend envisioned dwarfs living in caves in the rock.
In 1801, German author Clemens Brentano composed his ballad Zu Bacharach am Rheine as part of a fragmentary continuation of his novel Godwi oder Das steinerne Bild der Mutter. It first told the story of an enchanting female associated with the rock. In the poem, the beautiful Lore Lay, betrayed by her sweetheart, is accused of bewitching men and causing their death. Rather than sentence her to death, the bishop consigns her to a nunnery. On the way thereto, accompanied by three knights, she comes to the Lorelei rock. She asks permission to climb it and view the Rhine once again. She does so and thinking that she sees her love in the Rhine, falls to her death; the rock still retained an echo of her name afterwards. Brentano had taken inspiration from Ovid and the Echo myth.
In 1824, Heinrich Heine seized on and adapted Brentano’s theme in one of his most famous poems, “Die Lorelei”. It describes the eponymous female as a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracted shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rocks. In 1837 Heine’s lyrics were set to music by Friedrich Silcher in the art song “Lorelei” that became well known in German-speaking lands. A setting by Franz Liszt was also favored and over a score of other musicians have set the poem to music.
The Lorelei character, although originally imagined by Brentano, passed into German popular culture in the form described in the Heine–Silcher song and is commonly but mistakenly believed to have originated in an old folk tale. The French writer Guillaume Apollinaire took up the theme again in his poem “La Loreley”, from the collection Alcools which is later cited in Symphony No. 14 (3rd movement) of Dmitri Shostakovich.
In my photograph below, you can see a couple shooting a photograph in front of the Lorelei statue that we passed just before my photograph at the top of our article.
Here is a photograph of Katz Castle, just before we began the bend around Lorelei…
… and here is another photograph I captured with my zoom lens.
As I mentioned in the top of my article, if you want to see castles, then the River Rhine should be your river of choice. We sailed with AmaWaterways, and to learn more about AmaWaterways, please CLICK HERE.
And for booking information, please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235, or use our convenient online information request form (click here) and we’ll reach out to you.
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