The first mention of a church in Konstanz dedicated to the Virgin Mary was in 615. Documentary confirmation of the Episcopal church is dated to the mid 8th century. There is clear evidence indicating that it was located on the Cathedral Hill, where a late Romanesque fortification with an adjoining civilian settlement had been established. In 780, the church was mentioned in a confirmation of a contract by Charlemagne.
St. Maurice’s Rotunda (Holy Sepulchre) was built in 940 on orders of Bishop Konrad (934 - 975) who was canonized in 1123. In 1052, the cathedral collapsed. Its reconstruction took place under Bishop Rumold (1051 - 1069), with the eastern transept and three naves separated by 16 monoliths. The next 300 years saw the construction of one towers, then another, then a great fire destroyed one of the towers along with parts of the basilica as well as 96 other houses in the city. The south tower was completed in 1378.
From 1414 to 1418 the Council of Constance took place. The most important assembly of the Church during the Middle Ages, and the only one on German soil. Martin V, who had been elected Pope by the Conclave and thereby ending the schism dividing the Church, is enthroned in this Cathedral in 1417. In 1415 Jan Hus, because of his teachings, was condemned as a heretic by the Council who, at this time, was without a Pope. He was then delivered to the secular power who condemned him to death, tied him to a stake and publicly burnt him alive.
Between 1418 and 1525, the Cathedral was adapted to Gothic style by master craftsmen. In the period from 1526 to 1551, the Bishop left Konstanz because of the Reformation, and moved his See across the lake to the Martinsburg in Meersburg. The radical iconoclasm instigated by the reformer Huldrych Zwingli in nearby Zurich, caused the destruction of artwork in the Cathedral.
The subsequent centuries saw the addition of more paintings, wrought iron gates and sculptures, as well as the replacement and repair of destroyed items. Of note is the replacement of the painted Romanesque wooden ceiling by brick vaulting in 1637.
In 1821, Konstanz's bishopric, the largest in Germany, was dissolved and, in 1827, moved to Freiburg in the Breisgau. It had served the people around Lake Constance (Bodensee) for 1200 years, and survived almost 100 bishops. General restoration work took place on the Cathedral from 1844 to 1860; the tower was raised in neo-Gothic architectural style.
In 1955 Pope Pius XII raised the Cathedral to a papal Basilica Minor. A restoration program of the Cathedral’s interior as well as exterior was started in 1962 and is expected to be completed by 2010. In 1966, twelve new bells were cast and hung in the center tower and the ridge turret, a present from the state of Baden-Württemberg.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.