We often draw inspiration from the beauty that we see in life. Whether it be a trip to somewhere exotic and remote, or after reading a line of poetry that seems to awaken something deep within our souls. In the case of creating literary artwork, such as the beloved collection of stories known as The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien was said to have been inspired by one landscape, in particular: Switzerland.

The creation of the fantastical world of Rivendell is said to have been modeled after a small town known as Lauterbrunnen, and it's easy to see how this could be true.


A Small Swiss Village Responsible For The Inspiration Behind Rivendell in The Lord of the Rings

A tall waterfall cascades down a mountain in the background of the village, which looks as though it's frozen in time that's neither here nor there. The mountains surrounding the quiet, tranquil valley seem not to engulf it but, rather, to protect it and serve as shelter from any who might find it. Without knowing of its existence prior, there's no way one would discover Lauterbrunnen - but it does exist, as much as it seems like something from a fantasy. With a gentle stream that winds through town, modest homes built into hillsides, and a mountain view that one might only believe were they to see it in person, this could very well be the real-life Rivendell.

With thoughts already swirling of Middle Earth, it's here, in this village, that the famed J.R.R. Tolkien may have very well begun his own journey into the heart of The Lord of the Rings. While we can see these fictional worlds recreated in the films, it's a very different experience to know that many of them were actually inspired by real places, such as Lauterbrunnen. According to Tripzilla, Tolkien wrote to his son Michael in 1967, saying:

I am delighted that you have made the acquaintance of Switzerland, and of the very part that I once knew best and which had the deepest effect on me. The hobbit’s journey from Rivendell to the other side of the Misty Mountains, including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods, is based on my adventures in 1911.

Thus, the mystery behind the conception of Rivendell, one of the most picturesque and breathtaking worlds in The Lord of the Rings, is no more. Home to the Kingdom of Elrond, it's not hard to believe that elves live in Lauterbrunnen rather than actual human beings.

The Magic Of Rivendell... Er, We Mean Lauterbrunnen

To say that living in Lauterbrunnen would be akin to living in a storybook world would be an understatement. The striking vista of the Swiss Alps is easily seen in the descriptive imagery regarding the Misty Mountains, and this is not the only correlation Tolkien drew in The Lord of the Rings.

  • Fun Fact: It's believed that the pyramid-shaped mountain known as Silberhorn in The Fellowship of the Ring is modeled after the Jungfrau mountain - although a battle did not take place atop the latter.

Lauterbrunnen is home to 72 waterfalls in total, which only serves to add to its elegance and ethereal nature in real life. As the inspiration for Rivendell, this seemed the perfect place where a clan of elves might make their home - nestled deep within a valley, surrounded by mountains. The remote nature of Lauterbrunnen might be a turn-off to some, but it's the beauty that lies within its small-village atmosphere that has had many people descending the Swiss Alps to explore.

Related: Hobbiton Is On New Zealand's North Island, And This Is Everything You Need To Know Before You Go

Exploring Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

The good news is that opposed to the long journey it would take one to reach Rivendell, exploring Lauterbrunnen is much easier. The village is easily accessible by train and car, with a parking lot just outside the village on the main road that allows visitors to stop for a day trip. With the village being so easily walkable, there's no need to take a car any further than this point - just be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

Those taking the train from Interlaken Ost will have a 20-minute train ride, and then a five-minute walk to Lauterbrunnen from the train station.

Upon arrival, it's important to remember that this town is home to less than 2,500 people - which means that not only is it small, it's also easily explored in several hours. Many people visit for its stunning views, as well as the few shops and eateries in town to complete a quintessential Swiss village experience.

Please be respectful to the residents of Lauterbrunnen, as it is not an officially recognized tourist destination like Zermatt or other ski towns. Visitors should avoid being loud and take care to not interfere with daily life in the village.