What is a 'Litfaßsäule'?

When you go to Germany you might see some of those round things, like the one in the picture, with advertising posters plastered all over them.
As a child I always wondered what was inside, especially as I couldn’t find a door or a window.

And then I found out there’s nothing inside. These columns are purely just for advertising, nothing else.

They were invented in 1854 by German printer and publisher Ernst Litfaß, who was fed up with advertising posters being plastered on random houses all over Berlin. These successful columns were then named after him “Litfaß” (his name) & Säule ( pillar/ column) = die Litfaßsäule.

As you can see from the picture, which I took on my last visit to Germany, they are still popular, although newer ones may now have multiple uses as the inside is also used (for example as a toilet).

If I had my own Litfaßsäule it probably would look like this ☺

What would you advertise on yours?

PS For spelling enthusiasts:
According to German spelling rules, the word ‘Fass’ should have a double s and not ß, because the ‘a’ is a short vowel. In this case, however, it has nothing to do with a barrel, it’s somebody’s name. And names don’t follow spelling rules, hence Litfaßsäule.

EDIT September 2019. We visited Dresden last month and spotted a Litfaßsäule with a toilet inside. Of course I took a picture ☺

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2 Responses to What is a ‘Litfaßsäule’?

  1. Karl R Lechten (HAWAI'I) says:

    Wowww…I can’t believe they still exist in today’s Germany for I recall same right after WWII when guys on bikes used to show up regularly with roles of posters sticking out of saddle-bags, a bucket of glue and brush (with a long handle) to glue/ show next week’s HAPPENINGs… especially Theater-Shows and other important happenings.. such as when the circus is coming into town.
    It sure brings MEMORIES back…LOL
    ALOHA-

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