Without a forecourt or towers and somewhat hidden away in the Old Town, the true magnificence of the Baroque Asam Church Maria de Victoria lies in its stunning interior. Two exceptionally valuable artistic treasures adorn this architectural gem, which was built between 1732 and 1736 as the oratory of the Marian student congregation.
The Incarnation of the Lord is the subject of the phenomenal ceiling fresco that was painted by Cosmas Damian Asam, the most well-known Bavarian artist of the Baroque era, at the height of his creativity. This perspectival masterpiece, which is the largest flat ceiling fresco in the world and measures 42 metres by 16 metres, can be best appreciated by walking around beneath it. Another valuable artefact is the Lepanto Monstrance, which was completed in 1708 and stands in the treasure chamber.
This filigree work of art, set in gold and silver, represents the Christians' victory over the Turks in the sea battle of Lepanto - the unique portrayal of a combat on the world's most valuable monstrance.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.