Rungholt was a wealthy city in Nordfriesland
Nordfriesland, English "Northern Friesland" or "North Frisia", is a district in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It includes almost all of traditional North Frisia along with adjacent areas to the east and south and is bounded by the districts of Schleswig-Flensburg and Dithmarschen, the North Sea and...
, northern Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
. It sank beneath the waves when a storm tide (the first "Grote Mandrenke
The Grote Mandrenke was the name of a massive southwesterly Atlantic gale which swept across England, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Schleswig around January 16, 1362, causing at minimum 25,000 deaths. January 16 is the feast day of St...
") in the North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...
tore through the area on January 16, 1362.
Rungholt was situated on the island of Strand
Strand was an island on the west coast of Nordfriesland in modern Germany. It was formed by a stormflood in 1362 where many villages and towns, Rungholt among them, were lost and Südfall island was as well separated from the mainland. Strand island was later split by the Burchardi flood of 1634...
, which was rent asunder by another storm tide in 1634, and of which the islets of Pellworm
Pellworm is one of the North Frisian Islands on the North Sea coast of Germany. It is part of the Nordfriesland district in the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. Its area is 37 km², and its population is roughly 1,200....
Nordstrand is a peninsula and former island in North Frisia on the North Sea coast of Germany. It is part of the Nordfriesland district in the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. Its area is 50 km², and its population is 2,300...
Nordstrandischmoor is a Hallig off the North Frisian coast in Germany and lies within the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park.- Geography :...
are the only remaining fragments.
Relics of the city were being found in the Wadden Sea
The Wadden Sea is an intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Sea. It lies between the coast of northwestern continental Europe and the range of Frisian Islands, forming a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands. It is rich in biological diversity...
until the late 20th century, but shifting sediments have carried the last of these into the sea. In the 1920s and 1930s, some remains of the city were exposed; they suggest a population of at least 1,500 to 2,000, which is fairly large for that region and time, and it is likely that Rungholt was a major port. Legend has greatly exaggerated its size and wealth, however.
Impressed by the fate of the city, the relics, and not least legend's excessive descriptions, the German poet Detlev von Liliencron
Detlev von Liliencron
Baron Detlev von Liliencron born Friedrich Adolf Axel Detlev Liliencron was a German lyric poet and novelist from Kiel, the son of Louis Freiherr von Liliencron and Adeline von Harten....
wrote a popular poem called "Trutz, Blanke Hans" about this lost city which starts with the words: "Heut bin ich über Rungholt gefahren, die Stadt ging unter vor sechshundert Jahren". ("Today I traveled over Rungholt; the city sank 600 years ago.")
Local myth has it that one can still hear the church bells of Rungholt ringing when sailing through the area on a stormy night.