Bismarck Tower Ruin – Kętrzyn County, Poland - Atlas Obscura

Bismarck Tower Ruin

Kętrzyn County, Poland

This hilltop ruin is of the hundreds of stone columns built in tribute to the first German chancellor. 


This century-old stone tower is one of the hundreds of monuments built in honor of Otto von Bismarck, the beloved Prussian prime minister and the first German chancellor, who unified Germany in 1871.

Around the turn of the 20th century, about 240 round stone Bismarck towers were erected throughout the German Empire and beyond, all following roughly the same design. The unique tribute picked up steam with the “Bismarck cult” that sprung up after the chancellor’s death. In addition to the hundreds of memorials built, countless streets, cities, mountains, ships, and more were named for the German leader (including the capital of North Dakota).

The standard blueprint for the Bismarck towers was a stone fire column, and the idea was for all the towers to light their fire bowls on certain special days of the year to create a chain of illuminated beacons as an homage. This plan never quite panned out, and many cities instead opted to build their Bismarck monuments as observatories or lookout towers.

Such is the case with the Bismarck tower in Srokowo, Poland. Tucked within the trees at the top of the city’s Devil’s Hill (Diabla Góra), the memorial was erected in 1902 and served as an observatory. Now in a state of deterioration, the remains of the column can nonetheless be visited today. It is one of roughly 175 Bismarck towers that are still standing, and one of four that can be found in the Warmia-Masuria province of northeast Poland.

Know Before You Go

The other Bismark towers in the region are located in the towns of Działdowo, Ostróda, and Mragowo.

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October 31, 2018

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