Wettenhausen Abbey was an Imperial Abbey of Augustinian Canons until its secularization in 1802-1803. Being one of the 40-odd self-ruling Imperial Abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire, Wettenhaussen Abbey was a virtually independent state. Its abbot had seat and voice in the Imperial Diet, where he sat on the Bench of the Prelates of Swabia.
The abbey, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint George, was founded in 1130 by Countess Gertrud of Roggenstein and her two sons for the salvation of their soul. According to an ancient chronicle, the Countess told her two sons that she would endow the new monastery with as much land as she could plow in a day. She then mounted a horse around whose neck she hung a good luck charm and succeeded in plowing a vast area. The exact date when the Abbey obtained the coveted status of Imperial Abbey is uncertain.
Wettenhaussen Abbey was dissolved in the course of the secularization of 1803 and its territory annexed to Bavaria. The library of 7,000 volumes was transferred to the library at Dillingen. The premises were thereafter used for a rent office.
In 1864 the buildings were acquired by the Dominican Sisters of St Ursula's in Augsburg, who established a school here, which today is a Gymnasium (secondary school) specialising in music and the sciences.
The former abbey church of the Assumption is now a parish church. It was built in the 12th century and altered in the 17th in the Baroque style by Michael Thumb.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.