Neuleiningen Castle was built in 1238-1241 by Count Frederick III of Leiningen. The French destroyed it in 1690 and it has lain in ruins since that time. Together with, Battenberg Castle, 1,400 metres to the south, the castle controlled the entrance to the Eckbach valley. Passing between various lines of the family, the castle remained the property of the Leiningens for over 200 years. In 1468, Prince-Elector Frederick the Victorious of the Palatinate became involved in inheritance disputes amongst the Leiningens and seized possession of the castle by force. In 1508, after passing through several intermediate arrangements, an agreement was reached: the castle would be divided between the Bishopric of Worms and the counts of Leiningen-Westerburg.
In 1525, during the Peasants' War, the castle was opened to the rebellious farmers without a fight and, having been hosted by Countess Eva (1481–1543) in a friendly and generous way, the farmers left without causing great damage. Local poet, Paul Münch, described this historical episode in his Palatine poem Die Gräfin Eva vun Neileininge. Even in Thirty Years' War the castle only suffered minor damage.
During the War of the Palatine Succession, however, invading French troops razed the entire site in 1690. Its two owners, Leiningen-Westerburg and the Bishopric of Worms, could not agree to rebuild the castle in the period that followed – Leiningen being for, and Worms being against, the idea. In 1767, Charles of Leiningen-Westerburg finally sold the Leiningen half to Worms.
In the wake of the French Revolution the castle ruins were seized by secular authorities and passed in 1804 into the hands of the municipality of Neuleiningen, who, sold it just four years. In 1874, Charles Emich of Leiningen-Westerburg bought it back again for his family.
From the observation tower of the castle there is an outstanding view of the Upper Rhine Valley to the east, the mountains of the Palatinate Forest to the south and west and the massif of the Donnersberg to the northwest. Near the castle is the Old Vicarage (Alte Pfarrey), which was first recorded in 1524 and which houses a gourmet restaurant today.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.