Oberes Mittelrheintal / Vallée du Haut-Rhin moyen / Upper Middle Rhine Valley
The Upper Middle Rhine Valley
The 65km-stretch of the Middle Rhine Valley, with its castles, historic towns and vineyards, graphically illustrates the long history of human involvement with a dramatic and varied natural landscape. It is intimately associated with history and legend and for centuries has exercised a powerful influence on writers, artists and composers.
As one of the most important transport routes in Europe, the Middle Rhine Valley has for two millennia facilitated the exchange of culture between the Mediterranean region and the north.
It is an outstanding organic cultural landscape, the present-day character of which is determined both by its geomorphological and geological setting and by the human interventions such as settlements, transport infrastructure, and land use that it has undergone over 2,000 years. As a result, it is an outstanding example of an evolving traditional way of life and means of communication in a narrow river valley.
The terracing of its steep slopes in particular has shaped the landscape in many ways for more than two millennia. However, this form of land use is under threat from today's socio-economic pressures.
The appearance of the Middle Rhine Valley is characterized by the interaction between its physical natural features, the human interventions, and its 'tourist' image. In the 65 km stretch of the valley the river breaks through the Rhenish Slate Mountains, connecting the broad floodplain of the Oberrheingraben with the lowland basin of the Lower Rhine.
A very touristic site is the rock of the Loreley. It is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine near St. Goarshausen, which soars some 120 metres above the waterline.
It marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea.
Loreley is also the name of a mermaid. She is a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracted shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rocks.