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Engelsturm & Hexenturm

Two towers — the Engelsturm and Hexenturm (angel tower and witches’ tower) and part of the old wall in Olpe are reminders of the time when the town was granted the right to build a wall. Work on the fortifications commenced in 1311, the same year the town was granted its charter. However, it was not until 1961 that the “angel tower” in the west, right next to Saint Martin’s parish church, was rebuilt, while the “witches’ tower” in the east, where the town wall bends towards the Upper Gate, has largely been preserved in its original form. The names of the towers appear to relate their centuries-old history. Does the angel tower have something to do with angels because they flew from the parish church to the tower? And were witches imprisoned in the witches’ tower? Given how the towers are mystically lit up at night, you might be forgiven for imagining so. However, the names are not as old as you might think: the relief of an angel is set in the wall of the angel tower; you can see it when you climb the stairs from the church square to “Auf der Mauer”. This angel once adorned the magnificent facade of Saint Martin’s church, which was built from 1907 onwards. When the church had to be restored in the 1930s because the ornamental trim, which is made of soft stone, began to crumble and posed a hazard, the angel fragment was set into the wall of the tower.
And the witches’ tower? Were witches locked up here? We do not know for sure. What is certain, however, is that all the town’s towers also served as prisons, which is why they were also called “prison towers” in the past. It may also be that Hexenturm derives from a corruption of Hessenturm. This assumption could be supported by the old weather vane on the tower, which features a lion, the heraldic beast of the landgraves or grand dukes of Hesse-Darmstadt, whose territory included the Duchy of Westphalia from 1802 to 1816.

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