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Is Rapunzel German? Answers to All Questions about Rapunzel

Rapunzel is one fairytale we grew up with and now tell our children. Yet, the story that I was told in my childhood was very different from Disney’s Rapunzel-inspired animation Tangled. 

After watching Disney’s Tangled, and some persistent questions from my daughter, I found myself searching about Rapunzel. 

Finally, here is my take on the fairytale of Rapunzel and answers to the most common questions about Rapunzel and Disney’s movie Tangled.

Official Postal Stamp of Germany (1978) depicting Rapunzel Fairy Tale

Is Rapunzel a German Fairytale? 

Rapunzel is a world-famous fairytale written by the German Grimms Brothers in 1812. Rapunzel’s story has common themes and story elements with older Italian or even Danish folk tales.

All versions of Rapunzel’s tales have a beautiful young girl locked in a tower and held captive by an evil character.

Disney’s Tangled is also inspired by the tale of Rapunzel, but not all stories are as delightful as Tangled. Grimms and earlier Italian versions have darker tones and are not good children’s stories.

Click to check my other articles on Germany. I also linked them all at the end of this article.

Rapunzel Illustration by John B Gruelle and R. Emmett Owen (1922)

Is Rapunzel a German Name?

Like other fairy tale names, Rapunzel is not used as a real name in Germany. Before Disney’s Tangled, Rapunzel was not used as a name for real people.

Yet, after Disney animation, names like Rapunzel, Elsa, Aurora, Jasmine, Ariel, Tiana, Belle, Merida, and more have already made their way into parents’ name choices for their little ones.

I could only find my one account in 1959 when Rapunzel became the name of nine little girls born in 1959.

I believe that before Disney’s Tangled, there were no children recorded with the name Rapunzel.

Rapunzel Tower in real life. Rapunzel Tower has a height of 125 ft (=38.1 m) and was added to the castle in 1456. Source

Where in Germany is Rapunzel from?

Tangled takes place in the fictional kingdom of Corona. The original fairytale of Rapunzel takes place in the town of Trendelburg in Germany.

According to Brother Grimm’s fairytale, Rapunzel’s tower was and is still located in Trendelburg – a German town in the city of Hesse.

The Trendelburg castle was built in the 1300s by Conrad III von Schöneberg. The area is full of whimsical landscapes, medieval architecture, and great history.

The tower is situated on the famous tourist spot “The Fairy Tale Road” next to Reinhard’s Forest, home to such old trees that you could believe it is haunted.

Location of Trendelburg on the map of Germany

During Brother Grimm’s voyages throughout the country, they added the Rapunzel tale to their collection after a woman from this area told them the story of Sleeping Beauty in 1810.

Fast forward to 1996, an investment company purchased and finally restored it, transforming it into one of the most romantic castle hotels in Europe and a tourist spot for fairytale lovers.

Rapunzel as depicted in Disney’s Tangled. Source

How did Rapunzel look?

There aren’t many details about the exact look of Rapunzel.

Rapunzel is commonly portrayed as a beautiful young white woman with fair skin, charming facial features, immensely golden long hair, and an enchanting singing voice.

Nowadays, Rapunzel is usually represented as a lost princess, but neither Brother Grimm’s version nor the Italian version of Saint Barbara identifies her as a princess.

Suggested Reading: What do German people look like? (a German Explains)

Rapunzel Illustration by Paul Hey (1910) Source

What is the moral of Rapunzel?

Despite countless variations of Rapunzel, several significant aspects are still similar throughout all versions.

Rapunzel is a mindful tale for parents that you can’t stop the natural course of life. Whatever efforts, precautions, or measures you might take, you can’t keep your child locked and hidden away from the world.

Trying to postpone the life cycle is inevitable and will only lead to rebellion, consequential adverse outcomes, and a collision between young and old.

Rapunzel also highlights the struggle between the young and old generation as well as hindering the separation of the child from the parents upon reaching adulthood in a very objectionable and forceful way.

Disney’s Tangled Animation Poster (2010) Source

Disney’s “Tangled” – The Best Rapunzel Movie ever?

When Disney revitalized the Rapunzel fairy tale and the Disney “princess model” itself through the 2010 movie Tangled, it immediately became a superhit among an audience of young and old.

 Here’s why:

1.) Tangled breaks the classic prince-princess stereotype

Disney’s princess movies have often been criticized due to depicting a bad example to little girls and young women.

Former animations showed characters who do nothing but wait for their prince to come, and it was the ultimate solution to their distress.

Tangled, however, breaks this stereotype and shows the exact opposite.

Unlike the classic princesses, Rapunzel, despite being trapped in a tower, reads, paints, plays guitar, makes candles, and even does some ventriloquism showing how she tries to make the best out of her life despite her circumstances.

Also, when Flynn Rider, the handsome, charismatic thief and “Disney prince” climbs up Rapunzel’s tower, instead of awaiting first sight love, she smacks him with a frypan on the head, ties him up, and tells him to take her to the floating lights.

This shows Rapunzel’s huge interest, passion, and curiosity in the outside world she wants to explore.

Screenshot from Tangled

2.) Tangled has the best character introductions and a complex storyline

Disney’s “The Emperor’s New Groove”, “The Beauty and The Beast” or “The Princess and the Frog” intros are great, but Tangled does it even better.

You get introduced to the self-centered burglar Flynn Rider who cares about nothing but wealth, money, and the tiara he tries to get back from Rapunzel.

But once Rapunzel gets to know him, he is a good-hearted and thoughtful young man.

Then you have the beautiful, clever, free-spirited, and kind Rapunzel overloaded with beauty, curiosity, and playfulness.

She is in her late teens and, hence, a bit naive too, but when it comes to making a stand for herself or what is right in general, she shows bravery without hesitation.

Next on is probably the best Disney animal character ever, the Royal horse Maximus. Even though Maximus has no dialogue, his expressions and his personal relation to Flynn Rider are extremely fun to watch.

Being determined to do whatever it takes to get Flynn, the rivalry between the two unfolds into a charmingly love-hate friendship.

Last but not least, you get Rapunzel’s parents and the villain of the movie, Mother Gothel.

Tangled is finally a Disney movie where the parents actually aren’t dead, unlike what is usually portrayed.

The villain, Mother Gothel, who kidnapped and kept Rapunzel locked up in a tower to benefit from her hair’s magical powers, does seem more complex than usual villains.

Mother Gothel treated her like her own daughter, making it unclear if she truly cared for her or was simply narcissistic.

Screenshot from Tangled

3.) Tangled is hilarious

From the characters to the dialogues and scenes, Tangled is one of the funniest Disney movies of all time, keeping you engaged from the beginning until the end.

Tangled’s simple, straightforward, and attention-grabbing nature makes it a movie you don’t get bored watching over and over again.

Screenshot from Tangled

4.) Tangled’s animation is spot on

When it comes to animation, hair is one of the most challenging things to create without letting it look like an artificial cartoon mess.

The movie’s animators studied the growing process of hair to calculate a realistic length Rapunzel would have had at her present age, along with its natural flow.

According to the filmmakers, Rapunzel’s hair is about 70 ft long.

Besides the perfect hair presentation, Tangled offers impeccable scenes capturing exceptional animation production, from action scenes to whimsical landscapes.

5.) The happy ending isn’t only finding love but something much more meaningful

What makes Disney’s Tangled so unique is that Rapunzel’s final ending isn’t accepting Flynn as her true love but finally reuniting with her long-lost parents.

That truly fills her inner void to have a family and home alongside her love and adventurous desires.

Other Disney movies based on German fairytales

Disney is famous for changing and reinventing original stories into new versions.

Just like Rapunzel, several other Disney movies are based on German fairytales collected by the Brothers Grimm, including:

  1. Rapunzel
  2. Cinderella
  3. Snow White
  4. Sleeping Beauty
  5. Little Red Riding Hood
  6. Hansel and Gretel
  7. The Pied Piper from Hamelin
  8. The Princess and the Frog

The real story behind Rapunzel – The Brothers Grimm vs. The Italian version

Although there are many variations of the fairytale Rapunzel, The Brother Grimm’s version, published in 1812, is one of the most popular ones and darker than depicted in other stories or movies.

Grimm’s version is based on an earlier short story called “Petrosinella” which slightly differs from Grimm’s version.

Rapunzel by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

In Grimms’ story, Rapunzel was not a princess, unlike depicted in many stories and movies. Rapunzel is the daughter to an ordinary man and woman who had been wishing for a child for a long time.

When the woman was pregnant, she utterly craved Rapunzel until she got ill, upon which her husband went to calm his wife’s desire and entered a beautifully lush garden of a powerful witch, who was feared by everyone.

The sorceress demanded their unborn child in trade for taking as much Rapunzel as he wished because of the man’s impermissible entering and stealing.

When the child was born, the sorceress named her Rapunzel, took her away, and at 12 years of age, she locked her away in a tower with no entrance nor stairway but a tiny little window.

After a few years, a prince gets drawn to Rapunzel’s beautiful singing voice where he witnesses the witch calling: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair” after that, she wraps her braided hair on a window hook to let it down for the witch to climb up.

He decided to wait until dark, called out for Rapunzel’s hair, and climbed up the tower, where they immediately fell in love.

Now, the dark side of the story starts here when the witch finds out about Rapunzel’s non-marital relationship. She took Rapunzel’s hair, wrapped it around her left hand a few times, and cut it off.

She then takes her into the wilderness and abandons her there.

The prince who came again to meet Rapunzel at the tower encountered the angry witch instead, who poked out his eyes and blinded him.

After wandering helplessly for many years, the prince recognized a nearby singing voice, Rapunzel’s, who had given birth to twins and had been living in miserable conditions.

They finally meet again, crying together, upon which two tears fall into the prince’s eyes, curing his blindness as if it was never there.

He then leads her towards his kingdom, where they both were received with joy and spend the rest of their days in happiness. Source

SUGGESTED READING: Languages similar to German: Explained By a Local

The Italian version – The Life of Saint Barbara

The Italian version of Rapunzel is believed that Rapunzel originates from a story recorded by a man named Jacobus de Voragine in 1275 CE, which is even darker than Brother Grimm’s version.

The story is about a young woman named Barbara with exceptional beauty who lived in Italy.

Her father, Dioscorus, was a wealthy and influential merchant who firmly believed that reputation was closely linked with business success.

Due to his daughter being extremely beautiful, many showed interest in her, for which her father made a rule to first have an interview with him to determine whether a man would be beneficial in business relations or not.

Barbara was greatly upset with her father for his excessive influence in her life by dominating and controlling every aspect of her liking. She argued with him and would turn all possible suitors down.

Dioscorus, who had to leave for business purposes and knew his daughter was rebellious, hired people to construct a high tower.

He locked Barbara away so no man could come near to her or her falling in love with someone while he was away as well as stopping her from disobeying him in any way.

Food supplies and other necessities would be delivered to her each time Barbara lowered a basket.

During her father’s absence, she came across a book about Christianity that someone had put in her delivery basket.

Christianity’s message convinced her so much that she destroyed her father’s idols and became Christian, which was a serious crime at that time.

When Dioscorus returned and found out that Barbara had climbed out of the tower and joined an “illegal” religion, he turned her to the authorities.

He was tortured, and when she was extremely weak and near her death, her father took the sword and beheaded her. Source

Is there a real-life Rapunzel?

The famous fairytale Rapunzel has won millions of hearts of young girls and women entertained by the story and Rapunzel’s beauty, especially her incredibly long hair.

Today, many girls and women have grown their hair to such an extent that they can be called “Real-Life Rapunzels”.

Here are 6 Rapunzels of today with jaw-dropping amounts of hair:

Is there a real-life Rapunzel?

The famous fairytale Rapunzel has won millions of hearts of young girls and women entertained by the story and Rapunzel’s beauty, especially her incredibly long hair.

Today, many girls and women have grown their hair to such an extent that they can be called “Real-Life Rapunzels”.

Here are 6 Rapunzels of today with jaw-dropping amounts of hair:

NameCountryHair length
1. Asha Mandela(Guinness World Record Holder for longest dreadlocksUSAApprox. 16.8 m
2. Xie Qiuping(Guinness World Record Holder for longest hair)ChinaApprox. 5.63
3. Anastasia SidorovaRussiaApprox. 2.3 m
4. Alena KravchenkoUkraineApprox. 2 m
5. Frankie CluneyUK1.82 m
6. Daria GubanovaRussia1.5 m

This article is

written by Asma Schleicher and edited by Efe Genit. Asma is a creative writer with German and Pakistani roots. She is an analytical writer with a degree in business administration. In this blog, she mostly writes about cultural, travel, and fashion-related topics reflecting her real-life experiences. You can also check Asma’s profile in Upwork.