King Laurin and his rose garden

In ancient times, when there were still giants and dwarves in the Alpine valleys, Laurin the dwarf king ruled over the interior of the mountain that today we call the Rosengarten – the rose garden. He possessed immense treasures, including a magic cap that could render him invisible. Laurin’s pride and joy was a beautiful garden outside the gates of his stronghold. There, surrounded by a golden thread of silk, bloomed countless red roses throughout the year. Woe to anyone who dared break the thread and pick even one of the roses! Laurin would threaten to chop off his left hand and right foot.

One day Laurin espied the beautiful Princess Simhild at a neighbouring castle. He fell in love with the girl and abducted her with the aid of his magic cap. Henceforth Simhild had to live in the mountain realm of the dwarf king, surrounded by gold, silver and jewels, served and watched over by graceful noblewomen and dwarf knights. But Simhild was sad and pined for the flower meadows of her homeland.

In that place, at the castle of her brother Dietleib, grief and horror held sway. While searching for his sister, Dietleib encountered Dietrich of Bern, King of the Goths. Accompanied by him and other knights, Dietleib set off for the kingdom of King Laurin. Dietrich was amazed by the magnificence of the roses enclosed by gold thread, but his companions broke the thread and trampled on the roses. Furious, Laurin charged them on his white horse and demanded a hand and foot from the wrongdoer. It was an unequal struggle: at first Laurin managed to hide under his cap of invisibility but, once this was torn from him, he could only lie helpless on the ground and plead for his life. Securely bound, he was obliged to lead the victors into his kingdom, where Simhild was freed. Laurin’s evil plan, namely to see one thousand dwarves overpower the victors at a banquet, also failed.

It was the end of the realm of the dwarves. Pronouncing a curse, the captive king caused his rose garden to disappearforever. The glory of the roses should never be seen again, neither by day or by night: only bare, pale rocks should remain in their place. But, when making his curse, Laurin forgot to mention the dusk that occurs between day and night. And so it came to pass that, at sunset, the pale mountains glow and gleam in beautiful shades of red.