Observation Tower Háj near Aš

Opening hours of the observation tower

Open daily from 1 April  to 31 October

The opening hours are the same as the opening hours of the sports complex located on the Háj Hill

Opening hours : 9:00 - 17:00,   July, August - 19:00

Admission: Free of charge

How to get to the observation tower

On foot from the town of Aš following the blue tourist signs

Distance from the Information centre in Aš: 1,8 km

Motor vehicles are not allowed to drive and park right under the observation tower – there is a car park outside the sports complex – approximately 500m from the observation tower.

History

In 1860s, on a bare and unsightly hill, a few enthusiasts from Aš led by Jiří Unger, built a rest area with a forest park, which became the town´s pride.

The first plan to build an observation tower on that place appeared in 1874, but despite financial support from the town of Aš, the plan failed due to a lack of funds.

Funding and designs

The situation changed in 1895 thanks to the 80th birthday anniversary of the first German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. In the year 1898, a committee for the construction of the tower chaired by Mayor Emil Schindler was founded. Members of other associations, including the German and Austrian Alpinist Association, the Association of Horticulturalists and Landscapers and the Union of Germans in Bohemia were among those involved in the Committee. The members of the committee called upon the citizens of Aš to make financial contributions towards the construction of the tower which was to be named after the honourable German Chancellor. Soon, sufficient financial funds were raised, and a German architect, Wilhelm Kreis, was commissioned to design the tower. Kreis was known as the father of Bismarck columns and Götterdämmerung (The Twighlight of Gods) design was awarded first prize by the Association of German Students. Until 1911, this design was used 47 times.

Kreis submitted two designs but both were rejected. Finally, the third design which was different from the traditional concept of Bismarck columns was unanimously approved. At 1901- art exhibition in Dresden, this design was awarded gold medal. In August 1902, a construction foreman from Aš - Ernst Hausner was commissioned to carry out the construction of the tower and a foreman Johannes Hörer of Steinpöhl was commissioned to supervise the construction of the tower.

Construction

“The construction began on 22 September 1902 and the foundation stone was laid on 18 October of that year. The building shell was completed in October 1903 and the first visitors could see and climb up to the top of the tower on 25 December after paying 10 hellers. The observation tower was ceremonially opened on 19 June 1904.”

The construction costs amounted to 55,967 Austrian Crowns and 666 m3 of granite blocks, 65,000 bricks, 58 railway carriages full of lime and three carriages full of cement were used. The tower is 34 meters high and its base has a rectangular ground plan, the dimensions of which are 6.7 X 6.7m.

In year 1913, a bronze relief of Bismarck cast by Albrecht Gerold senior was placed at the side entrance. This relief along with other documents referring to Bismarck were removed after 1945.

Present

In year 2004, trees that prevented the view from the tower were cut down and the observation tower was used again. The owner of the tower is the municipality of Aš.

In year 2010, a new sports complex was built under the tower on top of the Háj Hill.

In year 2013, both the interior and exterior reconstructions were carried out.