The original Gothic castle of Grabštejn (or Grafenstein) was founded in the 13th century. In 1562, it was bought by Crown Chancellor Georg Mehl von Strelitz. Between 1566 and 1586, he had rebuilt the castle in Renaissance style and thus turned it into a representative chateau.
Georg Mehl also had a steward's house built below the castle, which was around the year 1830 rebuilt in Classicist style. Shortly before that – around 1818 – Christian of Clam-Gallas had built the New Castle near the Old Castle. The new building was surrounded by a large garden with a number of valuable plants. The Old Castle has preserved its original Renaissance appearance despite a fire which damaged its upper floors in 1843.
The House of Clam-Gallas owned Grabštejn since 1704 until it was confiscated in 1945. After the Second World War, the castle was open to the public, but in 1953, the whole castle complex was taken over by the Ministry of Defence. The Old Castle's condition significantly deteriorated after the army left in the late 1980s.
Repairs and restorations began in 1989. Nowadays, Grabštejn is one of the best restored monuments of great importance in the Czech Republic. The castle was opened to the public again in 1993. The tower offers a marvellous view of the three-border-triangle, the castle's northern wing, and the vault. The most touristically attractive part of the castle interior is the St. Barbara chapel decorated with Renaissance fresco paintings from the 16th century. All parts of the ceiling and walls are ornamented in with interlaced figural, animal, and heraldic motifs.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.