Wetzstein (Franconian Forest)

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Altvaterturm auf dem Wetzstein

Old father tower on the Wetzstein

Height 792.7 mabovesea level [1]
Location near Brennersgrün; Saalfeld-Rudolstadt County, Thuringia (Germany)
Mountain Franconian Forest (near Thuringian Slate Mountains)
Dominance 16 km → Redmountain
Schartenhöhe 199 m ↓ Steinbacham Wald
Coordinates 50° 26′ 46″ N, 11° 27′ 6″ ECoordinates 50° 26′ 46″ N, 11° 27′ 6″O
Wetzstein (Frankenwald) (Thüringen)
Wetzstein (Frankenwald)

Special features – formerly with Bismarck tower and NVA base
– Altvaterturm (AT)

The Wetzstein is a mountain of the northern slope of the Franconian Forest and with 792.7 ma. s.l[1] the highest in eastern Thuringia. It is located near Brennersgrün in the Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district of Thuringia. The Altvaterturm observation tower stands on it.

Geographical position

The Wetzstein rises at the transition of the Franconian Forest to the Thuringian Slate Mountains in the Thuringian Slate Mountains/Upper Saale Nature Park near the border to the Franconian Forest Nature Park in the southwest. Its summit lies 3.3 km south of the core town of Lehesten. The Lehesten districts of Brennersgrün and Röttersdorf lie to the southeast and northeast of it.

The historic Rennsteig border trail runs along the southern flank of the mountain.

Protected areas

On the western and northwestern flanks of the Wetzstein lies the nature reserve Staatsbruch (CDDA no. 319132; designated in 1998; 92.39 ha in size) and part of the fauna-flora-habitat area Schieferbrüche um Lehesten (FFH no. 5534-301; 2.41 km²). The mountain is also home to parts of the Thuringian Slate Mountains landscape conservation area (CDDA no. 378705; 2006; 264.8006 km²) and the Frankenwald – Slate Quarries around Lehesten bird sanctuary (VSG no. 5535-420; 72.09 km²).[1]


Bismarck Tower

From the summit region of the Wetzstein, you can see as far as Leipzig, among other places. The Thuringian Forest Association erected a 22 m high observation tower near the mountain peak in 1902 and named it Bismarck Tower (). A lively excursion and tourist traffic developed. During the Cold War the mountain was located in the border area between the Soviet zone and the western occupation zones and from 1961 to 1989/1990 in the restricted area of the inner-German border, so that the excursion traffic came to a standstill. The last dilapidated tower was blown up on 27 July 1979.

NVA base

On the Wetzstein there was a base of the National People’s Army (NVA) for air surveillance in the border area.

Oldfather’s Tower

In 2000, 530 m north-northeast of Wetzstein Peak and 350 m north-northeast of the former Bismarck Tower, construction began on the 35.8 m high Altvaterturm (), which was finished in August 2004. Builders were friends of local history from Sudeten Silesia, who had founded the Altvaterturm association in Langgöns in 1976. The tower is a replica of the tower that had stood on the Praděd (Altvaterberg) in the Altvater Mountains until 1959. The location in the southeastern Thuringian Forest was chosen because it resembles the forested and mountainous surroundings of the Altvater Mountains. The newly erected tower is to remind of the lost homeland of the expellees. In the chapel in the basement there are commemorative plaques for towns and villages from which Sudeten Germans were expelled in 1945/46. On the ground floor there is a restaurant decorated with coloured wooden coats of arms. On the upper floors, individual rooms are used for exhibitions on the former German settlement areas. On the ninth and top floor there is a viewing platform.

Slate Park Lehesten

On the lower part of the Wetzstein north-west slope, the Lehesten Slate Park is located in a former open-cast slate mine and is designated as a technical monument. The Thuringian-Franconian Slate Road leads past the 105-hectare area.

Individual references

  1. a b c Map services of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (references)

Web links

Commons: Oldfather’s tower (Wetzstein)– Collection of pictures