The four Bruchhauser Steine, which rise to heights of up to 92 metres on Istenberg near Olsberg, were formed millions of years ago by volcanoes, erosion and folds in the layers of the earth – and are a fascinating excursion destination for more than just geology fans. Rare species such as owls and falcons that breed on the rocks and arctic-alpine plants that do not occur anywhere else in this region make the Bruchhauser Steine a place of pilgrimage for naturalists. Ramparts dating from the Ice Age captivate cultural historians; the findings suggest there was a significant place of worship there in the pre-Christian period.
Climbing to the summit cross
However, most visitors look forward to a small climbing party and the breathtaking views from above. Because one of the four rocks can be climbed: Steps cut into the stone lead up to the summit cross on Feldstein, which at a height of 45 metres is the smallest of the rocks in the formation but, thanks to its position, is the highest point on Istenberg.
Goldstein and the Great Elector
Its three neighbours also offer special features: The 92-metre highest rock was named Bornstein because of the water that collected on the summit plateau, as ‘Born’ means ‘source’. The 72-metre high Ravenstein still shows signs of a volcanic eruption. On its north side, solidified ash and magma bombs can still be seen. The 60-metre high Goldstein has shimmering, golden-yellow veins of quartz to thank for its name. Among other things, it is also known as the “Große Kurfürst” (Great Elector) because of a rock formation that resembles the profile of the Great Elector in the March of Brandenburg.
Themed paths through the forest, to plant and animal worlds and to the ancient ramparts underline the importance of the natural and cultural monument that lies in the heart of the Sauerland-Rothaargebirge nature park and was named the first “national natural monument” in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2017. In 2019, the Kluterthöhle caves in Ennepetal followed as the second reserve of this kind.