Harburg Castle is one of the jewels of the German Romantic Road. Wonderfully preserved, the castle sits high on a hill and overlooks the town for which it's named. It is unclear when the first structure was erected, but the castle was first mentioned in a document in 1150. Harburg was built by the former Hohenstaufen emperors of Germany in the 11th or 12th century.
In 1295, the castle was transferred to the Count of Oettingen and it has belonged to the Oettingen, and later the Oettingen-Wallerstein, families ever since.
The castle complex, including the castle house, chapel, sentry walk, prison tower, dungeon, and various buildings used to support the inhabitants, is surrounded by a wall supporting six towers. The castle ballroom is pictured at left. In the center of the complex is a large courtyard with a well.
The present-day fortifications mainly date from the 18th century and can be visited in summer from Tuesday to Sunday. There is also a small hotel-restaurant in the castle.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.