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What Makes Reichenbach Fall and Sherlock Holmes Famous

Last Updated on January 8, 2024 by Darla

The Reichenbach Fall, a stunning waterfall close to Meiringen and Interlaken in the Swiss Alps, holds fame as one of Switzerland’s most renowned cascades. Linked to numerous paintings, photos, and stories—like those involving Sherlock Holmes—these falls captivate tourists as a popular sight to behold.

Reichenbach Falls, famous through Sherlock Holmes
Image of Reichenbach Falls by TouringSwitzerland.com

Overview: Reichenbach Fall

The Reichenbach Fall, known as Reichenbachfall or Rychenbachfall in German, is a powerful waterfall plunging 120 meters into a narrow gorge. Fed by streams from the Rosenlaui Glacier, it’s easily reached by a charming vintage train that takes you right to the waterfall upon arrival.

Aside from its natural beauty, Reichenbach Falls holds fame thanks to its link with Sherlock Holmes. In Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem, the detective and his adversary, Professor Moriarty, are said to have met their demise here. Though purely fictional, this tale has heightened the waterfall’s allure, drawing numerous Sherlock Holmes fans to the area.

For an incredible view, head to the nearby platform offering a stunning panorama of the surrounding mountains. Hiking enthusiasts flock here too, with various trails leading to nearby peaks and lakes.

Geographical Location

Reichenbach Falls, nestled in the eastern Bernese Alps of Switzerland, resides in Schattenhalb within the Hasli Valley near Meiringen. It’s the Reichenbach Stream from the valley and the Rosenlaui Glacier that feed these falls.

Comprising seven stunning cascades, these falls collectively stand 250 meters tall, with the highest single drop at around 120 meters. The site is embraced by steep cliffs and dense forests, offering a picturesque scene for visitors. The Reichenbach Stream descends nearly 300 meters from the falls to the floor of Hasli Valley.

Hiking enthusiasts can explore Reichenbach Falls through different trails offering breathtaking views of the falls and the beautiful scenery around them. These trails come in various lengths and difficulty levels, ensuring that visitors of any age or skill level can appreciate them.

Starting from Reichenbachfall, you can embark on scenic hikes to two stunning gorges:

For Aare Gorge, follow the route through Zwirgi, Schwendi, and Willigen, which takes approximately 90 minutes. To reach Rosenlaui, it’s a bit longer, around 2 hours, passing Zwirgi but heading towards Rosenlaui this time. Further along this trail, you’ll eventually arrive at Grosse Scheidegg in Grindelwald.

If you prefer a more laid-back experience, there’s a viewing platform perfect for you. It’s easily reachable and gives a wide, panoramic view of the falls and the surrounding area.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Influence

Illustration of the Death of Sherlock Holmes, Sidney Paget, The Strand Magazine from Wikimedia

Fans of the author Arthur Conan Doyle will remember the scene in the story The Final Problem. The dramatic scene takes place at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland where Holmes and Professor Moriarty confront each other. The narrative paints a vivid picture of a treacherous ledge near the roaring waterfall. The struggle is intense between the two.

Unfortunately, the story ends with both Holmes and Moriarty seemingly plunging to their deaths. Doyle’s decision to kill off his most famous character was shocking to readers at the time and generated a great deal of controversy. Because of public demand, Conan Doyle revived the detective and explained his survival.

Despite the seemingly fatal fall, Sherlock Holmes surprisingly survived. However, it marked the last face-off between these characters and served as the concluding story in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s series The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. In The Adventure of the Empty House, which follows Holmes’ supposed demise at Reichenbach Falls, Dr. Watson investigates a murder scene and unexpectedly encounters an elderly, deformed book collector. Later revealed to be Holmes in disguise, he reveals his victory over Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls and his subsequent years spent traveling the world.

Meiringen and Reichenbach Falls have become popular tourist spots thanks to their connection with Sherlock Holmes. The story of Holmes and Moriarty’s fictional encounter at the falls attracted numerous fans and curious visitors. Meiringen embraces this link by offering various Sherlock Holmes-themed experiences.

Travelers can dive into detective mysteries at the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Room at Alpencamping. Local spots like Molki Meiringen feature themed treats such as Sherlock Fondue and Sherlock Ice Cream, while Bäckerei Frutal serves up Sherlock Chocolate and hosts Sherlock Tea Time. For a different evening experience, the Sherlock Lounge & Club offers themed drinks. For interactive detective fun, Investigator Fun in Meiringen by Krimispass Meiringen completes the experience, making it an exciting journey into the Sherlock Holmes legacy in this beautiful area near Reichenbach Falls.

If you’re interested, here are the links to explore these different experiences:


How to Get to Reichenbach Falls

Image of the Reichenbachfallbahn by TouringSwitzerland.com

Reichenbach Falls is a popular tourist attraction in Switzerland, known for its stunning natural beauty and historical significance. Visitors from all over the world come to see the falls and enjoy the surrounding area.

To get to Reichenbach Falls, you need to get to Willigen (Reichenbachfallbahn) in Schattenhalb to catch the funicular that will bring you up to Reichenbach Falls. In just seven minutes, the legendary funicular will bring you to the place where Sherlock Holmes supposedly met his end.

You can read more information about how to get to Reichenbach Falls from Meiringen, Interlaken, and Zurich here: How to Get to Reichenbach Falls.


Final Thoughts: Reichenbach Fall and Sherlock Holmes

Viral stories have existed even way before the advent of social media. Reichenbach Fall is definitely one of those natural wonders that gained fame through the story involving Sherlock Holmes. The detective’s fictional encounter with Professor Moriarty at the falls captivates tourists, drawing many to this iconic site. The falls plunge 120 meters into a narrow gorge, fed by streams from the Rosenlaui Glacier.

Accessible via a vintage train, this destination offers stunning panoramic views, attracting both hikers and relaxed sightseers to enjoy its beauty. Meiringen, the town near Reichenbach Falls, has embraced its Sherlockian connection by offering a range of themed experiences, from mystery rooms to Sherlock-themed treats and interactive detective adventures.

In an era when stories circulated primarily through newspapers, magazines, and books, the account of Sherlock Holmes and the Reichenbach Falls captivated the minds of readers and travelers alike. This picturesque location became a sought-after destination well before the advent of Instagram and TikTok.

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Darla is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country. Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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