Lorch and 'Hausen


Lorch, and its ancillary village Lorchhausen, are the westernmost parts of the Rheingau. The area used to be of great strategic importance because it was at the entrance to the Rhine gorge and marked the end of the territories of the Archbishop of Mainz. Later the Rheingau became part of the Duchy of Nassau, and since that time Lorch has been part of the District of Ruedesheim. Today the district forms part of the German state of Hesse.

Long ago travellers would have known Lorch as a loading point for river cargo that could not be shipped through the rapids. Lorchhausen was less known: picturesque but poor. Its principal business was vine-growing and the making of wines, mostly sweetish whites traditionally called "hock" in English. Grape-growing has a long history in this part of Germany: it was introduced on the flats by the Romans. In the ninth and tenth centuries this form of agriculture spread northwards into the Rhine gorge at Lorchhausen and beyond by dint of terracing the steep, slaty hillsides.

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(c) Jean-Baptiste Piggin