Altena - birthplace of wire

Drahtrollen in Altena, Klaus Storch

Ever since the 16th century Altenas history is unextricably linked with wire-drawing. And even if the chain armour was a commercial success back then but not anymore, the finest wires can be used in so many ways. Electricty from the socket, telephone, digitalisation, internet, touchscreens - all these would not have been realised without the invention of wire. That is why the region may pride itself for being the birthplace of wire, for having pushed forward the development of wire and thus for having connected the world a bit more.

German Wire Museum

Being the birthplace of wire, Altena accommodates the German wire museum, in which the numerous ways of use and the history of the strenuous manufacturing and further processing of wire is highlighted. Free guided tours are included in the price, on every first Sunday of the month. Visitors can let themselves be introduced to the exiting world of wire at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.          


Opening hours: Tue-Fri 9.30 a.m. - 5 p.m. / Sat-Sun 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. / Closed on Mondays. Closed on 24-12, 25-12, 31-12 and 01-01

Further information can be found on:

Guided City Tour: City of wire

For centuries, wire-drawing and the wire processing industry supplied the economic base for many citizens in Altena and this has influenced the town substantially, which is confirmed by many reminders within Altenau. Our city guides will point them out to you and will gladly share the stories behind them all. A blacksmith demonstration can also be booked, in combination with this guided tour.         


Bookings can be made by telephone at: +49 (0)2352 209295 or by mail: stadtmarketing(ät)
For additional guided tours, please visit:

Wire trade route

Drahthandelsweg Altena

The 32 km long historical wire trade route leads through Mark-Sauerland and connects Altena with the towns of Lüdenscheid and Iserlohn. This is the route, the rit masters used for transporting the wire rolls by horse-drawn carts or even on foot to the neighbouring towns, where the wire would be processed. Nowadays this road through meadows and woods can be mastered in a light-footed manner, while enjoying the many viewpoints and industrial monuments. The wire rolls by the side of the road will inform you about the significant history of wire.


For further details about the tour and general information, please visit:

Wire roll "am Hurk"

Drahtrolle am Hurg

The wire roll in Evingsen is Altena's insider's tip with respects to industrial heritage. Well into the18th century this was the place where wire was drawn with hydroelectric power, now it is a little museum. The regional society Evingsen lovelingly maintains the museum that shows how wire was drawn and awls were ground back then. The cute brick building with water wheel can still be visited on the outside. If you would like to see its interior, please contact:


Heimatverein Evingsen // Herr Friedrich Wilhelm Klinke
Phone.: 02352-75380

Further Information

Iron Trail South-Westphalia

Eisenstraße Südwestfalen

The South-Westphalian Iron Trail leads through the wire town of Altena and makes industrial heritage in South-Westphalia concrete and interesting, for the young and old. The route passes 16 boroughs and towns, from Hagen to Burbach and many factory works, industrial monuments and places of interest.                            


The Iron Trail adventure guide is available at the bookstore ISBN 978-3-8375-1669-2 or can be purchased through the Klartext publisher.         


Further Information

Wire tree boulevard

Drahtbäume Altena an der Lennepromenade

Since the turn of the millenium they line the Lenne boulevard and illuminate the town during the holiday season: Altena's wire trees are probably the most outstanding wire sculptures in town. They symbolize Altena's bond with both wire and nature. Without nature's gifts, including iron ore deposits, hydroelectric power and lush woodlands for the wood coal smelting, the wire industry could not have developed and grown.


The wire trees are for sale and come in mini versions,  in 4 sizes, varying from 10 cm to 25 cm and they can be purchased at the adventure elevator. They are perfect as unique souvenir or as a gift.