Reichenbach Falls, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
© Chris Milne/Alam
The scene of a literary crime
This remarkable 800ft mountain waterfall is the site of a famous fictional showdown. Just outside Meiringen, Switzerland, the Reichenbach Falls are the backdrop for The Final Problem, the 1893 Sherlock Holmes story where, on a precipice near the falls (which in the 19th century gushed with far more power than our recent image shows), the genius detective enters a death duel with the criminal Professor Moriarty. In the end, both men plummet to their presumable doom.
Though the action in The Final Problem was set on 4 May, it's 22 May which is celebrated as Sherlock Holmes Day, as that is author Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday. The doctor-turned-writer created Holmes with A Study in Scarlet in 1887 and intended to kill off his famous protagonist with The Final Problem, to move on with his literary life. But pressure from Doyle's anguished, sleuth-starved public led him to 'resurrect' Holmes (but not Moriarty) a decade later with The Adventure of the Empty House. In all, Doyle wrote four novels and more than 50 short stories starring Holmes over four decades. They've gone on to inspire other books, plays, radio dramas, movies, TV shows, comics and video games featuring the super-sleuth.