Bouchout Castle is located in the Flemish town of Meise. In the 12th century, this territory of the young Duchy of Brabant was strategically positioned between the County of Flanders and the Berthout family, lords of Grimbergen. Most likely, the first fortification was built by Wouter van Craaynem at the end of the Grimbergen Wars (1150–1170).
At about 1300, the Donjon tower of Bouchout Castle was erected by Daniel van Bouchout, a knight who fought gloriously at the Battle of Worringen. In the 15th and 16th century, Bouchout Castle was owned by the Van der Marck and Transylvan families. The castle fell into disrepair due to lack of maintenance, while the Spanish dominance and the iconoclastic fury further worsened its condition.
The first major renovation was performed by Christoffel d"Assonville at about 1600. The rectangular medieval Bouchout Castle was surrounded by a large pond and could only be reached by a long drawbridge. At the end of the 17th century, Peter-Ferdinand Roose transformed the castle into a Renaissance 'Chateau de Bouchout', surrounded with French ornamental gardens. Unfortunately, the castle was partly destroyed during the French Revolution period (1800–1830). Again, the castle was restored in 1832 by count Amadeus de Beauffort, who gave Bouchout Castle its current Neo-Gothic appearance.
From 1879 until 1927, Empress Charlotte of Mexico lived at the Bouchout Domain. Her husband Emperor Maximilian I was executed by Mexican republicans in 1867. Thereafter Charlotte lead a secluded life at Bouchout Castle. Since 1939, the Bouchout Domain has developed into the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. Since the last renovation of 1987–1989, the castle and its rooms are now being used for meetings, lectures and exhibitions.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.