The Elvish kingdom of Rivendell plays an important roll in the world of The Lord of the Rings. According to author J. R. R. Tolikien’s extensive world building, Rivendell is a sanctuary and a mystical otherworld, where elf-lord Elrond lives with his people and his beautiful daughter Arwen. It is where exiled king Aragorn grew up, and fell in love with the elf-maiden. It is where the hobbits originally took the One Ring, hoping the elves would know what to do with it. It is where the Fellowship of the Ring was born.
And, according to Tolkien, he was inspired to create such a magical place after visiting these famous caves in Switzerland. In a letter to his son, he admitted, “From Rivendell to the other side of the Misty Mountains…the journey…including the glissando down the slithering stones into the pine woods…is based on my adventures in Switzerland in 1911.”
The St. Beatus caves were named for an Irish monk who, according to legend, lived in them as a hermit around the year 100, after vanquishing a fearsome dragon who long made the spot its home. Today, beautiful arching stone structures and buildings hand suspended over the waterfall, much like the famous elvish home of fantasy.
You can visit the St. Beauts Caves near Lake Thun and take in the spectacular cliffs, waterfalls, limestone formations and more. The arched Augustinian monastery is now a panoramic restaurant, and the nearby village of Lauterbrunnen is just as picturesque. Both are in the Bern area of Switzerland.