Reichenbach Falls, Meiringen, Switzerland: the end of Sherlock Holmes – the first time

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If Sherlock Holmes was your favorite detective as a child and waterfalls are high on your list, the Reichenbach Falls above Meiringen, Switzerland are a must see.

The roar of Reichenbach Falls can be heard from the valley floor in Meiringen, Switzerland

This almost 400 foot waterfall is visible from downtown Meiringen and it is only a short 20 minute walk to the start of its cog-rail funicular. Originally built in 1899 for work purposes, the funicular, with its wooden wagons and seating for 24 people, grinds its way up to the base of this impressive waterfall bringing tourists close enough to feel the spray of its water.

Reichenbach Falls funicular above Meiringen, Switzerland

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes, was a frequent visitor to Switzerland and after seeing Reichenbach Falls for the first time decided to use its location as the end for his already overwhelmingly popular detective.  With the death of Sherlock Holmes, the Reichenbach Falls became famous overnight bringing people from all over Europe to hear its audible roar and view its rushing water.  Today there is a Sherlock Holmes Museum in the basement of the Church of England near the train station in Meiringen. To mark the museum and remind all of its visitors of this detective’s significance, there is a life size statue of Holmes marking its entrance fully equipped with even his classic deerstalker detective hat.

An 1893 illustration by Sidney Paget depicting the fight to the death between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Morarity at Reichenbach Falls.

From the base of Reichenbach Falls you can see the beautiful Hasli Valley below and the trail and bridge that leads to the famous spot where Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty fought to their deaths. Today there is a plaque along the trail where this fictitious deadly event occurred on May 4th 1891.

If you are feeling ambitious, there are numerous hiking options from the base of the falls where the funicular drops you off.  First you must hike to top of the falls but from here the Zwirgi Hotel is 25 minutes away or Schwarzwaldalp 2-3 hours.  You can also buy a one way ticket up the funicular and rent large all terrain scooters called trottibikes for an exciting ride back down to Meiringen.  If you were to continue from Reichenbach Falls up the valley there is also the ridiculously fun Rosenlaui Gletscherschlucht just below the mountain inn of Schwarzwaldalp which is a great way to cool off on a hot day.

Amazingly Sherlock Holmes was resurrected by Doyle years after his death in Reichenbach Falls.  In 1901 Holmes reappeared in Doyle’s The Hound of the Bakersville after a much needed break from this all consuming character yet he was clear that this story occurred prior to Holmes death.  It was not until The Adventure of the Empty House that Holmes really did come back to life explaining to Watson, his long time companion, that his death was a guise to hide from Moriarty and his people.

“Holmes!” I cried. “Is it really you? Can it indeed be that you are alive? Is it possible that you succeeded in climbing out of that awful abyss?” ~ The Adventure of the Empty House



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