The Ilsestein in a 19th-century photograph
Iron cross (1814) and memorial plaque (1913)
View of the Brocken from the Ilsestein

The Ilsestein, formerly also called the Ilsenstein, is a tourist attraction near the town of Ilsenburg in the Harz mountains of central Germany.

The Ilsestein rises about 150 metres high over a little river, the Ilse, and lies at an elevation of 474 m above sea level (NN).

In the 10th century, there was a small siege castle on the Ilsestein immediately after the conversion of the old Ilsenburg castle into the Ilsenburg Abbey. It was destroyed around 1107 after lasting around a hundred years. Its layout was able to be reconstructed.

On the summit, there is a crag on which Count Anton of Stolberg-Wernigerode had an iron cross erected on 18 October 1814, one year after the Battle of Möckern on the first day of the Battle of Leipzig. The cross commemorates his friends and relatives who fell in the German campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. There is a good view of the valley and of the Harz's highest mountain, the nearby Brocken.

On 18 October 1913, a memorial plaque was unveiled here in the presence of Prince Christian Ernest of Stolberg-Wernigerode with an explanation of the origin of the 1814 iron cross.

There are several legends about the Ilsestein, which Heinrich Pröhle and others have written down.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe mentions the Ilsestein in the Walpurgisnacht scene in his drama, Faust I, and again, together with the Heinrichshöhe and Schnarcherklippen, in Faust II. Heinrich Heine described how he climbed the Ilsestein in his 1826 book, Die Harzreise (The Harz Journey). Engelbert Humperdinck's opera Hansel and Gretel mentions an Ilsenstein as the location of a haunted forest.

The Ilsestein is checkpoint no. 30 in the Harzer Wandernadel hiking network.

Media related to Ilsestein at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 51°50′49.5″N 10°39′41″E / 51.847083°N 10.66139°E / 51.847083; 10.66139

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