Museum in the Hexenturm


Rüthen Tourismus / Outdooractive POI / Museum in the Hexenturm

At the southwest corner of Rüthen's medieval city fortifications on Seilerweg is the 14th-century building popularly known as the Hexenturm (Witches' Tower) because of its temporary function as a dungeon and torture chamber. A bronze relief and the reproductions exhibited inside remind visitors of the dark times of witch hunts. A total of 13 towers and blockhouses belonged to the approx. 3.5 km long wall ring of the town fortification. The Hexenturm can be visited as part of a guided tour of the town.

Hexenturm auf der Rüthener Stadtmauer

Hexenturm von Osten gesehen

Stadtmauer mit Hexenturm


Museum in the Hexenturm

Hochstr. 14

59602 Rüthen

Telefon: 02952-818 172 / 173

Fax: 02952-818-170



In the extreme southwest corner of the crescent-shaped medieval town layout there is the only preserved tower of the old town fortification. The semicircular building, which was erected in the 14th century from Rüthen green sandstone, received its name from the vernacular due to its function as a dungeon and torture chamber during the long-lasting phase of Rüthen witch trials in the 16th and 17th centuries and their gruesome accompanying circumstances. In the Sauerland at that time about 600 people were sentenced as witches. About half of the alleged witches were men. Of the 102 people accused of witchcraft in Rüthen, only two survived the interrogations and the ghastly torture.

In the small two-story tower there are small loopholes. In the lower room of the tower, torture devices hang on the stone walls: a thumbscrew, long iron torture tongs, and a executioner's sword. There are illuminated information panels on the history of witch hunts embedded in the floor. A narrow wooden staircase leads to the upper room. There you can see a so-called "elevator" - a noose attached to a heavy stone. On the walls hang an old rod and a neck shackle. Next to it is a wooden torture chair.

Apart from this tower, the old city fortification had another 12 towers and blockhouses, the remains of which can be seen in the city wall ring still visible for about 3.5 km during a circular walk. At many places along the wall path there are charming views of the varied natural landscape surrounding the town.

A bronze relief on the outer wall of the tower reminds in particular of the times of witch hunts in Rüthen. However, the work of art is also a monument to the overcoming of the witch mania through the courageous appearance of the famous Jesuit priest Friedrich von Spee and the country priest Michael Stappert (Stapirius), who is also depicted there and comes from Rüthen. Both were opponents of the witch hunt. Friedrich von Spee was confessor to many alleged witches and in the 17th century published a book on witch hunts entitled "Cautio criminalis" (German: "Beware of the accusation").

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