Construction work on the Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) began in 1199 on the initiative of Count Baldwin IX. The church was located on the estate of Kortrijk that was fortified and completely walled in, with the exception of an area on the Leie. Of this early Gothic church only the west facade, the nave and the transept remain. The towers were constructed at the end of the 13th century. After the Battle of Westrozebeke in 1382 the church was largely destroyed and rebuilt. At a later stage the interior was decorated in Baroque style.
Following the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302, which took place on the nearby Groeninge field, the Flemish hung five hundred golden spurs from French knights who had been slain in the choir in thanks to Our Lady of Groeninge. In 1382, Breton mercenaries took them together with other valuables following the Battle of Westrozebeke. The spurs were later replaced by copies that still hang in the church. The Church of Our Lady conceals a number of art treasures such as the 'Erection of the cross' by Anthony Van Dyck.
In 1370, Count Lodewijk van Male constructed the Counts' chapel as a mausoleum for himself. In the chapel you can admire the stunning wall paintings of the counts of Flanders and the statue of the Holy Catharina (a famous masterpiece). The stained glass windows accentuate the church's noble character: the counts of Flanders, knights in armour during the Battle of the Golden Spurs etc.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.