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The legend of King Laurin and his rose garden

The fate of the dwarf King Laurin and his rose garden is revealed at sunset

In ancient times when giants and dwarfs populated the Alpine valleys the dwarf King Laurin reigned inside the mountain which we now call the Rosengarten (‘rose garden’). He owned vast treasures though his most important possession was a magic hat which rendered him invisible. Laurin’s pride and joy was a magnificent garden in front of the gateway to his fortress within the rock. Countless red roses flowered there the whole year round and they were encompassed by a golden thread of silk. Woe betide anybody who dared to break the thread and pick even a single rose! Laurin threatened to chop off his left hand and right foot. One day Laurin caught sight of the beautiful blond Princess Simhild in a neighbouring castle. He fell in love and abducted her with the help of his magic hat. From then on Simhild lived in Laurin’s mountain kingdom surrounded by gold, silver and precious stones, served and guarded by petite maidens of court and dwarf knights. In spite of such riches and luxury Simhild was sad and was homesick for the flowery meadows of her home.

Grief and horror reigned in her brother Dietlieb’s castle. While searching for his sister Dietlieb met Dietrich of Bern, King of the Goths. Dietrich joined Dietlieb and the two parties set off for King Laurin’s realm. Dietrich marvelled at the luxuriant roses enclosed by a golden thread, though his companions broke the thread and trampled on the roses. The furious Laurin charged at them on his white pony demanding the offender’s hand and foot. An unequal fight ensued. Initially Laurin was able to protect himself with his magic cap. However, the knights could tell where Laurin was by the movement of the roses. One of them unhorsed him and in falling Laurin’s magic hat fell off. He lay on the ground helpless and pleaded for his life. Shackled, he was forced to lead the victors into his kingdom where Simhild was set free.

Laurin invited Dietrich and his retinue to a banquet. When all had eaten and drunk their fill a thousand dwarfs suddenly fell upon them and Dietrich and his company were shackled and locked up in the darkest part of the kingdom. Dietrich was so angry at this insidious deed that he summoned inhuman power to break open the irons and freed his men. They broke open all the locks and doors and assailed Laurin’s unsuspecting dwarfs. Finally they succeeded in capturing the dwarf king. The glory of the dwarf kingdom had come to an end. The manacled king uttered a curse to destroy his rose garden. Neither the bright day nor the dark night should ever again see the magnificence of the roses. Only barren, pale rocks should remain. But Laurin forgot to include the twilight between day and night. For this reason, under certain conditions the pale mountains glow red at sunset.

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