Das Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs)


The main road from the city of Worms to Michelstadt is classified as the Bundestrasse 47 or just B47 (a state road, equivalent to an "A" road in Britain). This is the main road that runs through Lautertal along the small river Lauter from Bensheim via Lindenfels. This road is also named and known as the "Nibelungenstraße" or "Nibelung Route" and ends in Wertheim on the river Main.

(Click image to enlarge)

(Click image to enlarge)

Parallel to this road runs the "Siegfriedstraße" or "Siegfried Route" also running through the Forest of Oden from Worms but leading further south through Heppenheim along the B460 and on to Wertheim along a more meandering connection.

Along both routes you can find many references to the saga as well as enjoying the scenery with often spectacular views and stopping at numerous cafés and restaurants along the way. Criss-crossing both routes are many spectacular hiking paths. Here you will also be able to find any number of hotels for an overnight stay.

An original manuscript of the first page

The Song of the Nibelungs is one of the oldest known German epics of heroism from the Middle Ages with all of the ingredients for a truly exciting thriller and romantic love story with a hive of intrigue. It has many parallel legends in other areas of Europe and reading it you will discover many elements of other fables and sagas including The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, even Harry Potter! Although scenes are scattered throughout Europe it is mainly set in this area of Germany. According to the saga, around 1600 years ago, the hero, Siegfried von Hagen, was involved in many heroic missions but was sneakily asassinated through the only vulnerable spot on his body whilst drinking from a brook in the Forest of Oden (Odenwald). This started a further chain of events ending up in all of the main characters being killed in some way or another.

Along the old route from the city of Worms and into the Forest of Oden there are many references made to this saga and several places proclaim to be the scene of the asassination of Siegfried.

The saga was written some 800 years ago by an unknown author but some historians recognise Bligger II von Steinach (1152 - 1210), a known poet of the time, as being the true composer. The poet cleverly combines the mystic sagas of Brünhild in Iceland and Siegfried with the historic events of the downfall of the Burgundians (an east Germanic tribe of possible Scandianvian origin that gained importance during the Middle Ages) caused by the rise of the Huns (a nomadic pastoral group of people who finally grew into an empire across Europe) and transfers these events to the spirit of the chivalry of the Staufer (a powerful dynasty of German kings from Swabia) and real world places on the rivers Rhine and Danube. A truly European myth with Worms playing the central scene.

Further details on this to be found in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nibelungenlied

The main characters are:

Siegfried - He was born and raised in the Lower Franconian town of Xanten (Santen) near the Dutch border and became famous because of his virility and courage. Already in his youth he roamed many lands and survived many an adventure. Thus he acquired the mighty wealth of the Nibelungs, the magical sword of fable "Balmung" and a mysterious magical cape that made him invisible. He also incidentally killed a dragon and bathed in its blood. This left him invulnerable apart from one spot where a leaf from a lime tree fell and covered part of his skin. After helping King Gunther to marry Brünhild, he marries Kriemhild but eventually gets murdered by Hagen von Tronje who seeks to protect the King's honour after several incidents involving all of the main characters.

Kriemhild - She is the virgin sister of Gunther in the court of Burgundy. She is wooed by Siegfried who is finally allowed to marry her. A while after Siegfried's violent death she remarries to Hungarian King Etzel and schemes a plot set to trap Hagen to revenge Siegfried's death. He falls for this and is finally beheaded after a showdown with the Burgundian delegation being trapped and burnt in the hall where they were previously holding a feast. Kriemhild herself is slain by an ally of King Etzel, who is infuriated by her shameful conduct.

Brünhild - The Queen of Iceland who will only marry the man capable of beating her in a fair fight. This Gunther is able to do with the help of Siegfried and his magical cape. Only on the wedding night does she become suspicious of Gunther and after several incidents is beaten again by the invisible Siegfried and finally succums to Gunther. She and Kriemhild dispute their husbands' ranks outside of the Cathederal in Worms. After Kriemhild proves her rank by unwhittingly showing Brünhild a ring and a belt that Siegfried had previously taken from Brünhild a conflict started that then escaltes leading to the murder of Siegfried.

Hagen von Tronje  - a Burgundian warrior serving his  brother, or rather half-brother, King Gunther. He is a schemer and plays on the trust Kriemhild has in him in order to slay Siegfried and hide the hoard of the Nibelungs in the Rhine. Kriemhild revenges Siegfried's death and finally beheads Hagen after he was enticed to her new court in Hungary.


Written and compiled by Johnny Glover, Lautertal

© 2010