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The Loreley am Rhine - California Globetrotter

The Loreley am Rhine

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There is a legend in Germany, that takes place along the Rhine River of a beautiful siren who sang lovely melodies while combing her golden blonde hair, but because it is at the deepest and narrowest point of the entire Rhine River, it is extremely dangerous for ships to pass. The Loreley bewitches the hearts of all sailors with her enchanting voice and beauty. Looking to catch a glimpse of the woman whose voice has charmed them, they would forget about the dangerous rapids and soon their boats were crashed and sunk beneath the waves forever.

Well, I hope I have that effect on men! Or at least enough to make them turn and stare at my beauty!

My real first name is Lorelei. I was named after my mother’s middle name which my grandma had given to my mother. As to where my grandma found the name Lorelei, I have no idea. As to why she gave it to my mom, I also sadly have no idea. However, my father loved my mother’s middle name so much, I was blessed with the unique and very uncommon first name of Lorelei.

It wasn’t until I was in the 8th grade and I switched from learning Spanish to German that I learned my name was German and came with a story.  Ever since that moment, every other person upon learning that my real name isn’t just “Lori” but Lorelei, they always ask me if I have ever been to, seen, know of the Loreley am Rhine and the story behind it.

img_8019I thought upon moving to Germany that I would find many German women with the name Loreley. Why not? It’s a beautiful name right? Well surprisingly, I have never met a German person with the name Loreley.

Supposedly, Germans do not like the name Loreley because it comes from the German word “lureln” meaning “murmur”, the German word “luren” meaning “lurk”, and the Celtic word “ley” meaning “rock” – so the meaning is “lurking rock” or “murmuring rock”. Yet, whenever a German discovers my name, they get all excited because it seems they have never actually met a Lorelei.

The Middle Rhine is considered to be the epitome of Rhine Romanticism and has inspired many story, poems and songs about its beauty.

The legend of the Loreley was created by Clemens Brentano in 1801. The story says that a beautiful maiden by the name of Lore Ley waited on for her lover on the rock at the narrowest point on the Rhine river. He never returned and her heart was broken.

The legends says that her spirit sits on the rock combing her long hair and singing, waiting to seek revenge on her unfaithful lover and all men. Sailors are so enchanted by her beauty that they crash their ships on the rock or run aground in shallow waters.

Lore Ley was accused of bewitching and murdering men and was sentenced to death. As she is being led away, she tries to look down at the Rhine river once more. After she is able to climb the rock, she throws herself from the rock and to her death.

The romance of this mythical legend increase with the sound of the waters of the Rhine echoing throughout the gorge of the enchanting siren Lore Ley singing upon the rocks. The rocks have echoed her song since that day onward.

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The Lorelei though, is a rock that sits on a 194 meter cliff rock on the Rhine river and this area is the narrowest part of the Rhine river that flows between Switzerland and the North Sea.

As you’re driving along the Rhine, in the direction (and on the side of the river) leading to St. Goarhausen, you’ll quickly veer to the edge of the river and park in a dirt parking area. You’ll see a very small sign saying “Loreley” and a new river map monument making the spot. Then you’ll need to walk down the rocky island for about 5-10 minutes before reaching the Loreley at the very tip of the island.

I’ve had several chances to see the Loreley and each time the beauty of the Rhine astounds me . Visiting in the fall certainly adds to the beauty of the region.

While visiting the Loreley on the island, you can see the town of St. Goarhausen just a bit away on the right hand side, with Burg Katz perched up in the hills above the town. We would later stop (after coming back down the mountain) and have lunch in this town at the Loreley Weinstübchen which offered a Riesling schnitzel.

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After visiting the Loreley on the small island, we headed up to the Loreley Rock, which over looks the valley, where you can really catch a glimpse at how hard it is for large ships to navigate their way through this narrow and tricky part of the Rhine river.

At the top of the mountain, you’ll find a restaurant, (currently undergoing some remodeling and upgrading to Loreley 2.0). It is easily accessible by car, just following the signs on the road.

It is worth going up to the cliff for the amazing views it provides over the river!

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The Loreley is a water spirit, similar to mermaids but many believe she is more of Siren than a mermaid.

Not until Heinric Heine translated “Die Loreley” and portrayed her as a Siren did the legend became famous.

Heinrich Heine, 1822 (1799-1856)

 I cannot determine the meaning
Of sorrow that fills my breast:
A fable of old, through it streaming,
Allows my mind no rest.
The air is cool in the gloaming
And gently flows the Rhine.
The crest of the mountain is gleaming
In fading rays of sunshine.

The loveliest maiden is sitting
Up there, so wondrously fair;
Her golden jewelry is glist’ning;
She combs her golden hair.
She combs with a gilded comb, preening,
And sings a song, passing time.
It has a most wondrous, appealing
And pow’rful melodic rhyme.

The boatman aboard his small skiff, –
Enraptured with a wild ache,
Has no eye for the jagged cliff, –
His thoughts on the heights fear forsake.
I think that the waves will devour
Both boat and man, by and by,
And that, with her dulcet-voiced power
Was done by the Loreley.

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Lorelei has become a well-known name thanks in part to the role Marylin Monroe played in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the TV Show Gilmore Girls. I commonly get told that my name comes from Gilmore Girls and yes, I know my name is on the show, but no it is not FROM the show!🙂 And for the record, they spell it wrong! It’s not Lorel-a-i. Get it right!

Although for a long time I didn’t like my name as a kid, I love it now and I love how unique and rare it is. It makes it special. It makes ME special.

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Tips for Your Trip:

LORELEYTo visit the Loreley Statue:

You can park at St. Goar, take the ferry across the Rhine, walk from St. Goarhausen (St. Goar’s sister town on the opposite side of the city, to the peninsula. The statue is on the tip of the peninsula.)

You can also park in St. Goarhausen and walk from there. Or if you are very lucky you can find a few parking spots along the road where the peninsula reaches the mainland.

From the main road to the statue is about a 30 minute walk.

To visit the top of the Loreley Rocks (Loreleyfelsen):

This address may be helpful in your GPS:
Auf der Loreley
56346 St. Goarshausen

There is a hotel and restaurant named Berghotel auf der Loreley with parking and trails behind leading to the lookout point.

 

 

If you’re interested in visiting Germany and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide or the Lonely Plant Travel Guide! Without these guides, I would be lost! These are my travel Bibles!

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

Stay Tuned For More Along The Rhine!!

The Darling Storybook Town of Rüdesheim am Rhine

A Drive Along the Rhine

The Delectable Town of Bacharach

Further Ahead & Worth The Visit:

Cochem & the Reichsburg Castle

Burg Eltz

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Author: California Globetrotter

At 14 I started traveling the world with my parents and was hooked! By 21 I was studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. By 26 I sold all of my belongings and bought a one way ticket to Germany to teach English. Little did I know, I'd meet the love of my life and end up traveling to the most romantic and idyllic towns in Europe and becoming a long-term expat in Bavaria! My name is Lorelei and I'm just your typical CaliGirl, Sunset Chaser, Fairytale Dreamer, Dress Lover, Traveloholic, Beer Drinker!

27 thoughts on “The Loreley am Rhine

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  7. It’s always so much fun to find out where your name comes from, and how fun that you found out that yours is actually German and not a very common German name too! That’s awesome that you were able to visit the spot of another famous “Loreley”!

  8. What a lovely story behind your name and with a statue to boot!🙂

  9. Oh, how lovely to find out all about your name and to finally visit the place itself. I’d rather have a unique name than not. There were 9 Amanda’s in my final year at school out of 250 students.

  10. That is a cool story. I didn’t know your name was Lorelei. I have never met somebody with that name. I must have felt good to visit this place for the first time. The place is gorgeous. On another note, I didn’t know a siren and a mermaid were different things. This is because mermaid is translated to Spanish as “sirena.” But, I searched an found the difference. Good to know that!

  11. Well you’re right about the name Lorelei making me think of Gilmore Girls! Haha staple of my childhood! Such a pretty name and such a cool story behind it! Must have been really special to visit this place!😀

  12. It is so lovely that your name has a story like that. Both of my names came from the bible, so yeah not much of a story I guess. Such a pretty name you have!❤

  13. You know whenever I read your blog I notice how little I’ve travelled around my own country and how many little gems there are that I just haven’t seen yet! Loreley is one of them! I know the story of course but other than that?!😀

  14. such a beautiful name and such an interesting story! I wish I had an interesting story about my name, but sadly, no dice. haha

  15. Pingback: The Darling Storybook Town of Rüdesheim am Rhine | California Globetrotter

  16. I loved reading about the story of the Lorelei, made even more special as it’s your name too. How wonderful that you ended up in Germany with a story like that! thanks so much for linking up with our very first #FarawayFiles

  17. So lovely to hear the story behind your name and how wonderful that you were able to visit the site of its origins in Germany. I was named after the book ‘What Katy Did’ which I can assure you is way less exciting than a siren sitting in the middle of the beautiful Rhine. Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles

  18. Great to read the story of your name, it does sound like you were destined to live in Germany! #farawayfiles

  19. What a darling town and I LOVE the name connection – I’m a sucker for things like that too! I will admit she reminds me of the “Little Mermaid” in Copenhagen, who is MUCH LITTLER! Thanks for the history and inspiration and linking up with #FarawayFiles – we are happy to have you join our travel community!

  20. Pingback: The Delectable Town of Bacharach | California Globetrotter

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