Würzburg Cathedral is the fourth largest Romanesque church building in Germany, and a masterpiece of German architecture from the Salian period.
The present cathedral, built from 1040 onwards by Bishop Bruno of Würzburg, reckoned to be the fourth largest Romanesque basilica in Germany, is the third church on the site: the previous two, built in about 787 and 855, were respectively destroyed and severely damaged by fire. After Bruno's accidental death in 1045, his successor Adalbero completed the building in 1075.
The side aisles were remodelled in about 1500 in the Late Gothic style. The stuccoist Pietro Magno decorated the cathedral in Baroque stucco work in 1701.
The greater part of the building collapsed in the winter of 1946 in consequence of the bombing of Würzburg on 16 March 1945. Reconstruction was completed in 1967, in the course of which the Baroque components were removed in favour of a re-Romanisation. The new interpretation emphasizes the contrast between the surviving historical parts of the structure, resulting in a sometimes controversial combination of predominantly Romanesque with modern and Baroque elements. The Neo-Romanesque west front with a rose window, the tripartite gallery and the opening for the clock were combined during the reconstruction with a plain pumice stone wall, and revealed again during renovation work up to November 2006. In 1988 the choir was redesigned by Hubert Elsässer.
The cathedral contains numerous works of art like baptismal font (1279) by Meister Eckart of Worms and impressive series of tombs and epitaphs of bishops, including the monumental effigies of the prince-bishops Rudolf II von Scherenberg (1495) and Lorenz von Bibra (1519).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.