Hüfingen Roman Bath Ruins (Römische Badruine Hüfingen) are an extraordinary testimony to the Roman culture of bathing and one of the oldest examples of baths in a fortress north of the Alps.
Around 70 AD, Roman legions crossed the Alps to construct and secure the Danube Limes, or Roman frontier. At the western end, in today’s Hüfingen, the Brigobannis fortress was built. This boasted a sophisticated road network, an adjoining settlement for civilians and a balineum – a bathhouse for the soldiers.
The Roman baths in Hüfingen are slightly west of the fortress, situated in a valley beneath Galgenberg hill. Not long after their construction, members of the public from the nearby settlement began paying a small fee to come and enjoy the hot waters and steam baths alongside Roman soldiers. A hypocaust, an ingenious Roman underground heating system, ensured the water was warm and kept the floors and walls at an agreeable temperature.
The baths in Hüfingen are an example of a balineum with a blocklike structure, where all rooms were built as compactly as possible. The entire complex – excluding annexes – has an area of around 570 m². Around half of this space was taken up by a generously sized room for undressing and relaxation: the apodyterium, which had a cool-water pool at its centre.
Around 30 years after the baths were constructed, the 11th legion was forced to move on as the Danube frontier was shifted. But the settlement at the foot of the fortress remained intact – as did the 600 m² bathing complex. In 1820, Prince Karl Egon II ordered the excavation of the site and the construction of a protective outer building. Its shape is similar to the barns characteristic of this Black Forest region. Today, visitors to the ruins can gain fascinating insight into the history of the Romans and their bathing customs.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.