The legend of the Lorelei

*The Girl of Lorelei
The Lorelei cliffs in the past
The Lorelei cliffs today


The Lorelei is an approximately 132 metre high slate rock in the World Heritage Site of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley in St. Goarshausen. The sights visible from the view point towards the towns of St. Goarshausen with Burg Katz and the sister town of St. Goar with Castle Rheinfels is deeply impressive for all visitors to the Lorelei.

At the Lorelei the Rhine is up to 25m deep and only 113m wide. As this point on the river is so narrow, yet so deep, it is still regarded as the most dangerous in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage Site. All the way from Oberwesel to St.Goarshausen, when passing the Lorelei vessels on Rhine are controlled by light signals called the Wahrschau.

History of the Lorelei


The first signs of human settlement come from around 600,000 years ago, from the time when the Lorelei Plateau was still at the same level as the Rhine. The Lorelei was already a well-known place in the Middle Ages, because it is next to Binger Loch; the most dangerous place on the Rhine where tragedies happened for many sailors and their wooden boats. St. Goar, the town opposite the Lorelei, is named after the holy Saint Goar, who settled there in order to save and care for those who were shipwrecked at this treacherous point of the river.

The Lorelei myth

The name Lorelei first appeared in a romantic ballad by the poet Clemens Brentano in 1801. In this ballad Lorelei is a beautiful girl from the town of Bacharach, who has been cheated on by her lover and wants to take her life. But the bishop, fascinated by her beauty and grace, sends her to a convent. On the journey there she stops at the cliffs to take a glimpse of the castle where her lover resides. In desperation, when she believes she can see him leaving the castle she throws herself into the merciless river. In the Rhine fairy tales Brentano varied the theme, so that in 1810, Lorelei appears as the unhappy Miss Lurley, sitting on the cliff, combing her long blonde hair and sending sailors to their doom.

Sitting on the cliff today is the Lorelei visitor centre. Embark on a journey through time and discover everything there is to know about the legend of the Lorelei, vineyards and wine production, flora and fauna, geology, and navigation on the Rhine