|Elevation||2,193 ft (668 m)|
|Location||Erzgebirge, Saxony, Germany|
|Age of rock||Tertiary|
Geologically, the Greifensteine is the top of a pluton. During the Variscan orogeny, magma intruded along structural zones, but cooled and solidified before reaching the earth surface. When the Erzgebirge block raised, the resulting granite formation raised with it. The surrounding softer material eroded and the harder granite remained, creating the tors of the rock formation. The deposition of ores associated with the intrusion gave the area its name (Erzgebirge, literally ore mountains).
The first indications of a settlement on the Greifensteine are from around 1180, and in 1349 the von Waldenburg family are seignory to the "Grifenstein" castle. The castle is documented in 1372 as "Slosz Cryfenstein". The castle was destroyed in the 14th century by fire, and was rebuild afterwards. It was abandoned in the 15th century, the area was used as a quarry and all traces of the former castle are removed. Of the originally 13 rock towers, six have been demolished and used for their granite over the years. This activity was stopped in 1928, and the area has become a nature reserve.
Today, the Greifensteine is a nature reserve and a popular tourist attraction. The areal has a restaurant, a small museum and an outdoor theater that uses the rock formation as a dramatic backdrop. Stairs lead up to the tallest rock, which offers a nice view of the surrounding Erzgebirge. The rock formations offer several rock climbing paths. In the surrounding area are the Greifenbachstauweiher and the Röhrgraben.
Karl Stülpner (1762–1842), a local renegade and folk hero (the Robin Hood of the Erzgebirge) had a hiding place in one of the numerous caverns of the Greifensteine area. This Stülpner-Höhle (engl.: Stülpner's cavern) can still be visited today.
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