Saint-Étienne de Metz, also known as Metz Cathedral, is built on the site of an ancient the 5th century church dedicated to Saint Stephen protomartyr. According to Gregory of Tours, the shrine of Saint Stephen was the sole structure spared during the sack of 451 by Attila's Huns. The construction of the Gothic cathedral began in 1220 within the walls of an Ottonian basilica dating from the 10th century. The integration into the cathedral's ground plan of a Gothic chapel from the 12th century at the western end resulted in the absence of a main western portal; the south-western porch of the cathedral being the entrance of the former chapel. The work was completed around 1520 and the new cathedral was consecrated on 11 April 1552.
In 1755, French architect Jacques-François Blondel was awarded by the Royal Academy of Architecture to built a Neoclassical portal at the West end of the cathedral. He disengaged the cathedral's facade by razing an adjacent cloister and three attached churches and achieved the westwork in 1764.
In 1877, the Saint-Stephen of Metz was heavily damaged after a conflagration due to fireworks. After this incident, it was decided the refurbishment of the cathedral and its adornments within a Neogothic style. The western facade was completely rebuilt between 1898 and 1903; the Blondel's portal was demolished and a new Neogothic portal was added.
The cathedral treasury exhibits the millennium rich collection of the Bishopric of Metz, including paraments and items used for the Eucharist.
Saint-Stephen of Metz has one of the highest naves in the world and the largest expanse of stained glass in the world with 6,496 m2. Those stained glass windows include works by Gothic and Renaissance master glass makers Hermann von Münster, Theobald of Lixheim, and Valentin Bousch and romantic Charles-Laurent Maréchal, tachist Roger Bissière, cubist Jacques Villon, and modernist Marc Chagall.
Saint-Stephen Cathedral is a Rayonnant Gothic edifice built with the local yellow Jaumont limestone. Like in French Gothic architecture, the building is compact, with slight projection of the transepts and subsidiary chapels. However, it displays singular, distinctive characteristics in both its ground plan and architecture compared to most of the other cathedrals. Because of topography of Moselle valley in Metz, the common west-east axis of the ground plan could not be applied and the church is oriented north-northeast. Moreover, unlike the French and German Gothic cathedrals having three portals surmounted by a rose window and two large towers, Saint-Stephen of Metz has a single porch at its western facade. One enters laterally in the edifice by another portal placed at the south-western side of the narthex, declining the usual alignment of the entrance with the choir.
The nave is supported by flying buttresses and culminates at 41.41 metres high, making one of the highest naves in the world. The height of the nave is contrasted by the relatively low height of the aisles with 14.3 metres high, reinforcing the sensation of tallness of the nave. This feature permitted the architects to create large, tall expanses of stained glass. Through its history, Saint-Stephen Cathedral was subjected to architectural and ornamental modifications with successive additions of Neoclassical and Neogothic elements.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.