The Mönch (also Mönchstein) is a rock pinnacle and popular climbing peak in Saxon Switzerland in Germany near the spa town of Rathen. The weather vane on the summit, in the shape of a tin monk, is visible from afar and acts as a navigation aid.
The Mönchsloch, a shelter for the guard post on the rock castle
In the Middle Ages the rock was used as a lookout for Neurathen Castle due to its prominent location. From that time stems the Mönchsloch ("Monk's Hole") hewn out of the rock just below the summit, a shelter about 1.75 metres high and 1.35 metres deep that was used by the guard post of the castle. The rock castle was destroyed in 1469 and fell into ruins. With it disappeared the medieval staircase that enabled the Mönch to be climbed, although traces of the timber beams remain today. Since that time the summit may only be reached by climbing.
In 1887 a weather vane was erected on the Mönch, as was common on other peaks in the area in those times. The vane was in the shape of a monk's silhouette. Whilst most of the weather vanes and summit symbols were destroyed or dismantled again in the succeeding decades, that on the Mönch was one of the few that remained in Saxon Switzerland.
The original figure suffered damage, in 1928 and 1930, and was replaced in 1957 by a faithful replica. The original monk of 1887 may be seen in the museum in Bad Schandau.
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