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Joseph’s Cross

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The peak of the “Großer Auerberg” mountain is reached from Schindelbruch by a short natural walk on the “Street of Songs” - our nature resort is located half-way to the mountain top. If the nature trail becomes too strenuous, simply take the softly-rising and well-paved trail starting at the parking lot at Auerberg forester’s lodge. The nice walk pays off twice as you will discover one of the most important technical buildings of the 19th century: Joseph’s Cross, the biggest iron double cross in the world and a lovely look-out point on to the Southern Harz.

The impressive, widely visible steel construction towers above the forest and the observation deck (subject to fee) is located at the top of 200 steps and is open all year if the weather conditions are normal. Next to it on the peak plateau a restaurant and a little children’s playground await visitors of all ages.

The history of the look-out point goes back to the 17th century when a wooden look-out tower stood on top of the “Großer Auerberg” mountain. According to historical sources, one day unknown men appeared and started to tunnel into the hilltop in order to search for red color – but the undercutting made the tower unstable and it finally collapsed. In fact, in 1768, the tower was very dilapidated  and had to be demolished for security reasons. It was many decades later when Count Joseph of Stolberg-Stolberg commissioned the construction of a new tower and became the patron of the look-out point. The design of the wooden gothic double cross was created by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, but the tower, which was finally completed in 1834, was out of luck: in 1880 it was struck by lightning and burned down. Its successor, the present iron double cross, was built in the style of Schinkel’s design in 1896. It is fixed with 100,000 rivets, outlasted the turbulent times of the 20th century and is now a well-known landmark in the Southern Harz.

With a bit of luck, you will be able to find a rare geological treasure on your way to Joseph’s Cross: the “Auerberg diamonds” which can only be found here are mountain crystals (rhyolites) measuring about 5 to 8 millimeters in the shape of a double pyramid with a hexagonal surface. They are not of great value, but a beautiful memory of your holidays in the Southern Harz.