Observation tower

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Ottoshöhe observation tower , fourth tower from 2008

A lookout tower (also a lookout tower or observation tower ) has the function of allowing the greatest possible distance and an instructive 360 ° panoramic view . Such a tower should clearly tower above the tallest trees on wooded mountains .

In contrast to observatories , airport towers and the like, the view is for leisure and pleasure. Many older lookout towers are masonry structures, often modeled on medieval watchtowers . There are also numerous older observation towers made of wood or iron ( cast iron or rolled steel profiles).

Most of the older lookout towers do not have a lift. The platform height is usually between 5 and 40 meters.


Schönberg Tower near Pfullingen
The Großer Feldberg observation tower after it opened in 1902

In Germany, observation towers in the great outdoors were first built at the end of the 18th century, initially often by aristocrats . From the middle of the 19th century, this building task was passed on to the citizens and was carried out by associations and committees. The climax of these activities was the time of the German Empire (1871-1918), when after the resignation of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1890 the construction of the 240 Bismarck Towers began. These activities were then followed by the Kaisertürme and Kaiser Wilhelm Towers .

In Austria and Switzerland, many lookout points were built by Alpine and tourist associations and are looked after by them. Nobles and citizens' committees were also active on wooded mountains in the vicinity of capital cities ; many waiting areas are named Jubiläumswarte because of the long reign of Emperor Franz Joseph .

Most of these structures were brick towers, occasionally wooden or iron structures. Almost all of these structures can only be accessed by stairs.

Most of these structures are used as observation towers, and some of these towers were also used as fire observation posts in times of high forest fire hazard or as military observation posts in times of war, sometimes with an anti-aircraft post. Most of these structures are not intended to be used beyond the function of a lookout tower; some also have antennas for BOS radio , for mobile radio or VHF and TV transmitters of low power.

High observation towers were not built until the end of the 19th century after the invention of the elevator . The Eiffel Tower and the Blackpool Tower are particularly worth mentioning here. In Germany, between 1924 and 1926, the Berlin radio tower was built as a combined broadcasting and viewing tower on the Berlin exhibition grounds .

After the Second World War, there was a great need for high towers, especially away from the high mountain ranges , for the construction of VHF radio and television transmission networks and higher-level long-range telecommunications connections using radio relay . In many large cities there was a desire to equip these towers with a viewing platform, but these are not viewing towers, but rather broadcast towers , examples of which are the Mannheim telecommunications tower or the Berlin television tower . In other places, the design of the head tower was adopted and high observation towers were built without the need for communications technology , such as the Skylon Tower at Niagara Falls or the Danube Tower in Vienna's Donaupark , which opened with the Vienna International Garden Show ( WIG 64 ) , for which the tower is also a strong one Should be a landmark in the park.

Lookout tower for the State Garden Show in Rietberg

Lookout towers are still being built, both for garden shows and in a landscape context. For example, the expansion plan of 1958 for the Palatinate Forest Nature Park , created as the third national park in Germany, provided for seven observation towers.

The construction of temporary observation towers and information centers at large construction sites is new, such as the 13 m high steel view point by the Renner Hainke Wirth architects' office in Hamburg's HafenCity , which opened in 2007, and the 32 m high BBI Info Tower with elevator and an entrance fee to be paid at Berlin Brandenburg Airport and the 60 m high “ bahnorama ” with a 40 m viewing platform and a lift during the construction of Vienna Central Station , which was the highest accessible wooden tower in Europe , which was set up in 2010 by the turn of the year 2014/15 .

As a rule, modern lookout towers are not bricked up, but instead are made from wood, concrete or steel.

Some towers are accessible free of charge, others only against admission. Some towers are only accessible at certain times or occasions (such as Monument Open Day ). In the case of small towers, the platform is often unglazed. Some towers have a restaurant at the base of the tower or in a neighboring building. There are also observation towers in some amusement parks .

Alternatives to observation towers

As an alternative to viewing towers, viewing platforms or viewing terraces near restaurants or on the roof of mountain stations of the cable cars have also been implemented on some mountains . In many cases, such vantage points do not allow a view in all directions.

Towers that are no longer used for their original function are often equipped with viewing platforms. A certain curiosity of its kind was the overhead line mast 93 of the 4101 facility near Cologne, which was combined with a walk-through viewing platform until 2010 .

Additional information

See also


  • Joachim Kleinmanns: Look into the country. Observation towers . Jonas-Verlag, Marburg 1999, ISBN 3-89445-252-8 .
  • Friedemann Schmoll : The lookout tower: for visual conquest and national occupation of nature; a contribution to the monument topography using the example of Württemberg . Master's thesis . University of Tübingen, 1990.
  • Friedemann Schmoll: The observation tower: for the ritualization of tourist sight in the 19th century . In: Christoph Köck (Ed.): Travel pictures . Waxmann, Münster 2001, ISBN 3-8309-1047-9 , pp. 183-198 .
  • Jack Reese: Lookout and monument towers in Schleswig-Holstein . Kultfeinwerk agency and publishing house for culture, Ascheberg / Holst. 2008, ISBN 978-3-9812031-0-3 .
  • Karl Bauerschaper, Armin Kaden: Lookout towers in Saxony region Vogtland-Western Ore Mountains-Muldenland . In: Fernblicke . Bildverlag Böttger, Witzschdorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-937496-26-9 .
  • Karl Bauerschaper, Armin Kaden: Lookout towers in Saxony region Osterzgebirge-Elbe Valley-Lausitz . In: Fernblicke . tape 2 . Bildverlag Böttger, Witzschdorf 2011, ISBN 978-3-937496-45-0 .
  • Observation tower. In: Ernst Seidl (Hrsg.): Lexicon of building types. Functions and forms of architecture. Philipp Reclam jun. Verlag, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-15-010572-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: lookout tower  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Observation towers  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. History, historical facts, photos and interesting facts about the tower! 40 Years of the Danube Tower - Foreword - Brief chronology of the Danube Tower, accessed on November 21, 2009.
  2. Jürgen Müller: Source of power for people sitting down. In: The Rhine Palatinate . January 17, 2009.
  3. View Point in HafenCity , Hamburger Abendblatt, June 20, 2009.
  4. Two temporary landmarks. Cruise Center and View Point of HafenCity Hamburg. In: Zeitschrift für Baukultur. 7, 2007, No. 5, pp. 20-24, ISSN  1437-2533
  5. If you want to go to the new observation tower at the major airport, you have to pay 10 euros entry to Flughafen GmbH. ( Memento from November 2, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ) In: BZ November 15, 2007.
  6. Folder bahnorama - ÖBB - City of Vienna New ÖBB information center
  7. Martin Steinmüller: Big plans for wood as a building material. The forest is coming back to the city. In: orf.at. January 5, 2015, accessed on January 5, 2015 : “In 2015 Vienna will lose around a hundred tons of wood. The 67 meter high wooden observation tower next to Vienna's main train station has been closed since January 1st and is being dismantled. Until 2013, the building called the "Bahnorama" was even the highest accessible wooden tower in Europe - a record that in the future could only make you smile. "