Less than an hour driving from Zurich is Neuhausen, a little town mostly known for being home to its main tourist attention – Rhine Falls, also known as Rheinfall in German.
The Rhine Falls were formed due to two factors: one, the bedrock that’s much older than the falls itself and two, the significant geological processes during the glacial epoch during the last age, approximately 15,000 years ago, when the general temperature fluctuated. Over a course of time, the falls were framed as the hard ‘Malm’ limestone at the top changed to the easily eroding debris as the flow of water changed.
The Rhine Fall Rock, known as Rheinfallfelsen, is iconic today and is the remains of the original steep sloping limestone flanks. It is often lit up at night as fireworks light up the night sky.
The 150-meter-wide and 23-meter-high falls is quite a sight, and about 700 cubic meters of water passes over the precipice every second. However, despite being Europe’s largest waterfall, the Rhine Falls are tiny compared to some of the largest waterfalls on other continents such as Niagara Falls in North America and the Victoria Falls in southern Africa.After parking the car at the nearest parking lot, we headed down to the pier, towards the water. We walked around, passing Schlössli Wörth, a 14th-century Castle built in 1348AD, that’s on a small island in the Rhine River. Today, a couple of souvenir shops, a fast food joint and a gourmet restaurant with a terrace facing the falls offering spectacular views are housed in the castle.As we strolled around, we spotted several boats taking people near the foot of the falls. It was intriguing to see the power of the water rocking the boats back and forth spraying the passengers with mist. The boat trips started at Schlössli Wörth.
Dad, Mom, and Diva decided to climb up the stairs to the Känzeli outlook point – a viewing deck to see the full splendor of the falls. I’m sure there was a way for me to go up to the outlook point, but I opted to marvel at the beauty of the falls from below.Since the 12th century, a hammer mill, a forging hammer powered by a water-wheel, has been located at the site of the present waterwheel house. The steep slopes of the Rhine were used to exploit hydroelectric power. It was then demolished, however, in 1975, a new waterwheel was produced, showing how water power was used, at this particular location of the falls.Behind the falls is the Schlöss Laufen, a cliff-top castle first mentioned in history during the 9th century, that now serves with as a tourist attraction with a bridge and panoramic lift over the falls, an elegant restaurant, and a visitor’s center. The Rheinfall Railway Line passes through a tunnel under the castle. The hourly train stops at the Schlöss Laufen am Rheinfall station, which is linked to the castle by a walkway. This creates an alternate route for visitors from Zurich to visit the Rhine Falls.
When they got back, I had to indulge and so I got some of the most delicious soft-serve ice cream I’ve had: strawberry and vanilla ice cream. Diva got some fresh popcorn from an automated popcorn machine.After a quick trip to the gift shop for a souvenir fridge magnet and one last look at the mighty falls, it was time to head back to Zurich, as it had been a long day of traveling and exploring.
Rhine Falls is located at:
8212 Neuhausen am Rheinfall
Photos by Hitesh and Diva Shah