Kahler Asten
The Kahler Asten is an 841.9-meter-high mountain in the Rothaargebirge
The Rothaargebirge is a low mountain range reaching heights of up to 843.1 m in North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse, Germany....

 range in the district of Hochsauerland, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

. It is a popular destination, receiving more than 500,000 visitors annually.


The Kahler Asten is located in the northwestern part of the Rothaargebirge in the Hochsauerland
Hochsauerlandkreis is a Kreis in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Neighboring districts are Soest, Paderborn, Höxter, Waldeck-Frankenberg, Siegen-Wittgenstein, Olpe, Märkischer Kreis.- History :...

 region, a little southwest of Winterberg
Winterberg is a town in the Hochsauerland district of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and a major winter sport resort of the Wintersport Arena Sauerland.-Geography:...

 between the villages of Altastenberg
Altastenberg is a village in the borough of Winterberg in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is a state-recognised spa, is classed as one of the mountain villages in the borough and, at just under 800 m...

, Neuastenberg
Neuastenberg is a village in the borough of Winterberg in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.With about 560 inhabitants it is the largest mountain village in the borough.- Geography and history :...

 and Lenneplätze.



Erroneously, the Kahle Asten is often said to be the highest mountain in North Rhine-Westphalia or even sometimes in the whole of northwest Germany, because it is shown on the WDR weather map. In fact the highest peak is the 843.1 m high Langenberg
Langenberg (Rothaargebirge)
The Langenberg rises on the state border between North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse in Germany and, at , is the highest peak in the Rothaargebirge mountain range, as well as the highest point in the North Rhine-Westphalia and also in the north of Germany outside of the Harz Mountains.- Geographical...

 on the state border with Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

; and the nearby summit of the Hegekopf
Hegekopf is a mountain of Landkreis Waldeck-Frankenberg, Hesse, Germany....

 (842.9 m) in Hesse, where the Rothaargebirge
The Rothaargebirge is a low mountain range reaching heights of up to 843.1 m in North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse, Germany....

 merges into the Upland
Upland (Hesse)
The Upland, which is Low German for something like Oberland or Auf dem Land , is the northeastern part of the Hochsauerland and belongs the German state of Hesse, unlike the remainder of the Hochsauerland which lies in Westphalia...

 near Willingen, is even higher. The height of the Kahle Asten on the latest topographical maps is given as 841.9 m, but its height is also recorded on a marker stone at the spot as 842 m. The Kahle Asten is therefore only the third highest mountain in the region, but the most well known by far.


Part of the Rhine-Weser watershed runs over the Kahler Asten, and the Lenne also has its source near the summit. The enclosed spring, which only wells up from time to time, is located at a height of 820 m and is thus the highest river source in northwest Germany. The Lenne flows west into the Ruhr
The Ruhr is a medium-size river in western Germany , a right tributary of the Rhine.-Description:The source of the Ruhr is near the town of Winterberg in the mountainous Sauerland region, at an elevation of approximately 2,200 feet...

 and on into the Rhine. Another stream, the Odeborn
Odeborn is a river of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.-See also:*List of rivers of North Rhine-Westphalia...

, emerges on the southeast slope of the mountain, whilst the Sonneborn
Sonneborn (Nuhne)
Sonneborn is a river of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany....

 rises on the northeast side and flows southeast. These two streams reach the Weser via the Eder
The Eder is a 177 km long river in Germany, and a tributary of the Fulda River. It was first mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus as the Adrana in the territory of the Chatti....

 and Fulda rivers.

Weather station

There is a permanent German Weather Service
German Weather Service
The Deutscher Wetterdienst, , commonly abbreviated as DWD, , residing in Offenbach am Main, Germany, is a scientific agency that monitors weather and meteorological conditions over Germany and offers weather services for the general public as well as specific services for e.g. nautical, aviational...

 weather station on the Kahler Asten which is part of the weather bureau at Essen. It has contributed significantly to the public's awareness of the mountain.


The summit of the Kahler Asten is part of a mountain heath. Because many rare and threatened species live there, it has been placed under conservation protection as part of the Kahler Asten nature reserve
Nature reserve
A nature reserve is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research...

 and Special Area of Conservation
Special Area of Conservation
A Special Area of Conservation is defined in the European Union's Habitats Directive , also known as the Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora...

 (48.69 ha). Hardly any trees grow on the heath, because the vegetation
Vegetation is a general term for the plant life of a region; it refers to the ground cover provided by plants. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader...

 is kept short by sheep grazing. In places, however, natural reforestation has already taken a strong hold because the grazing is insufficient. Through manual intervention using chain saws and strimmers, attempts are being made to stop this reforestation. The vegetation consists mainly of Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris), Mat-grass
Nardus is a European botanical genus belonging to the family Poaceae . The genus formerly included more species, but the only currently accepted member is Nardus stricta....

 and subshrub
A subshrub or dwarf shrub is a short woody plant. Prostrate shrub is a similar term.It is distinguished from a shrub by its ground-hugging stems and lower height, with overwintering perennial woody growth typically less than 10–20 cm tall, or by being only weakly woody and/or persisting...

s. Breeding birds on the heath include the Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit
The Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis, is a small passerine bird which breeds in much of the northern half of Europe and also northwestern Asia, from southeastern Greenland and Iceland east to just east of the Ural Mountains in Russia, and south to central France and Romania; there is also an isolated...

 and Tree Pipit
Tree Pipit
Tree Pipit, Anthus trivialis, is a small passerine bird which breeds across most of Europe and temperate western and central Asia. It is a long-distance migrant moving in winter to Africa and southern Asia....

. The Black Grouse
Black Grouse
The Black Grouse or Blackgame is a large bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia in moorland and bog areas near to woodland, mostly boreal...

 used to breed here, but the population died out decades ago.

Observation tower and hotel-restaurant

There is an observation tower
Observation tower
An observation tower is a structure used to view events from a long distance and to create a full 360 degree range of vision. They are usually at least tall and made from stone, iron, and wood. Many modern towers are also used as TV towers, restaurants, or churches...

 on the summit of the Kahler Asten immediately next to the hotel
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms...

A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

 called the Astenturm (Asten tower). From the platform of the tower, which is , there is a superb all-round view over the Rothaargebirge and other parts of the Sauerland. In very clear weather, even the Brocken mountain in the Harz
The Harz is the highest mountain range in northern Germany and its rugged terrain extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The name Harz derives from the Middle High German word Hardt or Hart , latinized as Hercynia. The legendary Brocken is the highest summit in the Harz...

Saxony-Anhalt is a landlocked state of Germany. Its capital is Magdeburg and it is surrounded by the German states of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of...

), 163 km away, can be seen without the aid of binoculars.

Plans for a monument on the Kahler Asten go back to the Vormärz
' is the time period leading up to the failed March 1848 revolution in the German Confederation. Also known as the Age of Metternich, it was a period of Austrian and Prussian police states and vast censorship in response to calls for liberalism...

 period in the first half of the 19th century. As early as 1843 King Frederick William IV of Prussia
Frederick William IV of Prussia
|align=right|Upon his accession, he toned down the reactionary policies enacted by his father, easing press censorship and promising to enact a constitution at some point, but he refused to enact a popular legislative assembly, preferring to work with the aristocracy through "united committees" of...

 visited the Kahler Asten. At the time it was planned to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
The Treaty of Verdun was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne, which divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms...

 by building an observation tower as a monument. This treaty sealed the division of the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

 into three kingdoms: West Francia, East Francia and Lotharingia
Lotharingia was a region in northwest Europe, comprising the Low Countries, the western Rhineland, the lands today on the border between France and Germany, and what is now western Switzerland. It was born of the tripartite division in 855, of the kingdom of Middle Francia, itself formed of the...

 and was seen as the beginning of the separate development of the French and German nations. During the 1848 year of revolutions
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...

 the Asten tower was the target of a demonstration for the aims of the March revolution and of German unity.

Plans for a monument were not taken any further, however, until 1881. The foundation stone was laid on 22 June 1884 by the district administrator, Federath, in the presence of numerous honoured guests. In the same year the construction of a tower began. The 25-meter-high skeleton fell victim to an autumn storm, however. Rumours of faulty construction could not be proven in the subsequent legal action. By 1889 the district administrator was able to persuade private donors and the Westphalian provincial association to provide the means to rebuild the tower. It was opened in 1895.

Since 1900 the tower has been an official monument of the Province of Westphalia
Province of Westphalia
The Province of Westphalia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.-History:Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Kingdom of Westphalia, which was a client state of the First French Empire from 1807 to 1813...

. Since 1918 the tower has also been a weather station.

The first renovations were needed in 1923 as a result of weather-induced metal fatigue. At the same time, the restaurant was built. New modification plans were started in 1930 and implemented in 1937. During the Second World War the tower was almost completely destroyed by a direct hit from artillery. The repair of war damage was not completed until 1955. In 1967 the damaged slate sheathing had to be replaced by copper. In 1995 an exhibition room was added. In 2004 ownership of the tower passed to Westphalia-Lippe Property Management, a subsidiary of the Westphalia-Lippe Regional Council (Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe). A thorough renovation and refurbishment was then carried out by December 2005.

After its restoration
Building restoration
Building restoration describes a particular treatment approach and philosophy within the field of architectural conservation. According the U.S...

 the hotel-restaurant opened its doors again in December 2005 and the Astenturm itself was re-opened on 20 March 2006. It now has a self-service
Self service is the practice of serving oneself, usually when purchasing items. Common examples include many gas stations, where the customer pumps their own gas rather than have an attendant do it...

 area, a restaurant area and 17 double rooms with 34 beds.

Exhibition on the mountain

Since October 2008 visitors can learn more about the mountain at its summit through an exhibition called the Kahler Asten - the roof of Westphalia. The central themes of the exhibition are the nature reserve with its mountain heath, the weather station and the history of the Asten tower. In addition clips of amateur film from past decades are shown.

Winter sport

The Kahler Asten and the surrounding area, with its sister mountains, out to about 40 kilometres is one of the most well-known winter sport
Winter sport
A winter sport is a sport which is played on snow or ice. Most such sports are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditionally such sports were only played in cold areas during winter, but artificial snow and ice allow more flexibility...

 regions in the German Central Uplands
Central Uplands
The Central Uplands is one of the three major natural regions of Germany and covers most of the land area of the country. To the north lies the North German Plain or Northern Lowland; to the south, the Alps and the Alpine Foreland.- Formation :...

 due to its good snow conditions. The Kahler Asten itself is part of the ski lift
Ski lift
The term ski lift generally refers to any transport device that carries skiers up a hill. A ski lift may fall into one of the following three main classes:-Lift systems and networks:...

 complex known as the Skiliftkarussell Winterberg
Skiliftkarussell Winterberg
Skiliftkarussell Winterberg is one of the major ski resorts in Central Germany. It is located near the town of Winterberg in the Hochsauerland region in North Rhine-Westphalia. As an international destination, popular especially with skiers from the Netherlands, it attracts nearly 900.000 visitors...



  • Sluka, Klaudia (2006). Einfach Spitze. Westfalen Spiegel, Feb 2006. (pdf, 214 kB)
  • Hochsauerlandkreis – Untere Landschaftsbehörde: Landschaftsplan Winterberg. Meschede 2008, p. 100
  • Neueröffnung des Astenturms am 20. März 2006. In: Sauerland. 2/2006 S. 83-85

External links

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