Joseph's Cross

Joseph's Cross
Joseph's Cross

Joseph's Cross

Josephskreuz - largest iron double cross in the world

The Josephskreuz, a lattice tower visible from afar, is today not only a vantage point but also a popular destination for families and hikers. No wonder, because at 580 m above sea level, the Great Auerberg, on which it towers not far from the half-timbered town of Stolberg (Harz), dominates the landscape of the southern and lower Harz mountains. From the Brocken to the Kyffhäuser, it is the highest elevation. The imposing porphyry cone has therefore always been a sought-after vantage point.
In the 17th century, the Counts of Stolberg had a half-timbered tower built there for the first time. This guaranteed an unobstructed view of the surrounding military and trade routes. According to legend, however, strangers came one day to look for red paint in the mountain. They are said to have driven tunnels into the hilltop and thus undermined the tower, so that it soon collapsed. Legendary excavations or not, the tower was indeed dilapidated. In 1768, it was demolished for safety reasons.

Landmark from Schinkel's pen

Not until many years later, in 1834, did a tower crown the Great Auerberg again. Count Joseph zu Stolberg-Stolberg commissioned none other than the Prussian master builder and architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel with the design. A total of 365 oak trees were felled in the surrounding forests for the 26 m high Gothic double cross. The half-timbered tower, named after its initiator, was inaugurated on the count's birthday. The Josephskreuz soon became a popular destination for excursions beyond the region. Events and catering attracted locals as well as people from far away. However, even this tower was not immune to the adversities of the weather. Renovations were necessary as early as 1851, before lightning finally burned the wooden construction down to its foundations on the night of 11-12 June 1880.

"Eiffel Tower of the Harz"

The desire to rebuild was expressed by hiking enthusiasts. This required the approval of Prince Alfred zu Stolberg-Stolberg and the general assembly of the Harz Club, founded in 1886. In autumn 1895, the new work was approved. It cost an impressive 50,000 marks, half of which was paid by the Princely Chamber and half by the Harz Club. Following Schinkel's designs, a solid iron construction was built. Its construction corresponds to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Held together by 100,000 rivets, the new Joseph's Cross with a total weight of 2460 hundredweights (250 kg per square metre) now defies the weather. Since 1896, it has been a worthy counterpart to the Kyffhäuser Monument, linking the Harz Mountains and Kyffhäuser.

Josephskreuz: a destination for everyone

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After extensive restoration, the largest double cross in the world has been shining in its old splendour again since 2004. Hikers and walkers reach the listed Joseph's Cross on nature walks. The Luther Trail or, from Stolberg (Harz), the Alte Auerbergstraße or Alte Poststraße lead up to the southern summit of the Großer Auerberg, the Josephshöhe. From the car park at the Auerberg forester's lodge, the "Straße der Lieder" (street of songs) ensures a good mood on the 15- to 20-minute walk up to the impressive half-timbered structure.
On arrival at the top, the Bergstüb'l Josephshöhe invites you to take a breather. For the little ones, there is also a small playground at the edge of the forest. If you want to go higher, you can climb the 200 steps to the viewing platform of the Josephskreuz (fee required). At a height of 38 m, the ascent is rewarded with a wide panoramic view, weather permitting.

Opening Times:

May - October
Monday 11 am - 4 pm
Tuesday - Sunday and public holidays 10 am - 6 pm

November - April
Tuesday - Sunday/holidays 10am - 4pm

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