Berchtesgaden Castle dates from 1102 from the Augustin Collegiate. According to legend, Countess Irmgard von Sulzbach vowed to found the monastery as gratitude for saving her spouse after a serious hunting accident.
Throughout the ages, provosts and canons expanded the complex of buildings. Seen from today, it is a lucky circumstance that never enough money was available for tearing the place down. On the contrary, extensions have always been added in the style of the time. The Romanesque cloister has been built around 1180, followed around 1400 by the two-nave Gothic hall. Around 1500 two Renaissance halls were built on the southern side and the Baroque wing was added in 1725.
During the 14th century, the Augustin collegiate achieved imperial immediacy, which made it direct subordinate to the emperor. The provost became the territorial lord and the monastery premises became his residence. In 1559, the monastery was raised to the status of provostry.
After mediatisation (meaning lifting of the spiritual status) in 1803 and the concomitant end of provostal rule, the Land of Berchtesgaden came for short periods under different rules until, in 1810, it became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Since 1818, Berchtesgaden Castle has been used as hunting lodge by the kings of Bavaria. Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria made it his residence and lived in it with his family from 1922 until 1933. The rich furnishing of the castle with works of art is due to him. To these days, the head of the House of Wittelsbach, Duke Franz of Bavaria, uses the castle as summer residence.
Many different style eras have set their stamp on Berchtesgaden Royal Castle: from Romanesque to Gothic and Baroque, right on to Rococo. Throughout the ages, at has been expanded and modified again and again. The cloister and its late Romanesque sculptures are evidence of the castle’s origins in the High Middle Ages. After 1818, the erstwhile monastery was used by the Wittelsbachs as hunting lodge. Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria (1869-1955) lived here with his family from 1922 until 1933 and used many rooms for exhibiting items from the art collection of the Wittelsbachs. They include two retables by Tilman Riemenschneider of Rothenburg ob der Tauber and also valuable hunting weapons and trophies as well as, at 18 kilogrammes, the heaviest antlers of Bavaria. Precious furniture, exquisite porcelain and paintings by major artists, especially from the 'Munich School', make it all complete. The view from the Upper Rode Garden over the Watzmann is considered to be the most splendid in the entire valley.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.