Hiking to Drachenfels
Entering one of the Rheinsteig paths leading up to Drachenfels is always somewhat of a mystical experience for me. Traffic sounds hush suddenly, bowing to the sounds of branches swishing in the wind, leaves stretching out their buds and a creek bubbling, joyfully.
The Niebelungenlied, the epic poem in Middle High German, describes how the hero Siegfried killed the dragon Fafnir, who lived in a cave in the Drachenfels. Siegfried then bathed in Fafnir’s blood, rendering him invincible, except for his Achille’s tendon, a spot between his shoulder blades, which was covered by a linden leaf. Richard Wagner partly based his operatic cycle der Ring des Nibelungen on the Nibelungenlied.
Closer to the clouds than the Earth, the view from Drachenfels is lovely. It’s easy to see why the place was beloved by poets of Rhine Romanticism. Lord Byron also wrote about Drachenfels. Here is an excerpt from his poem of the same name:
The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o’er the wide and winding Rhine
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine.