St. Peter's Cathedral in Osnabrück is a late Romanesque building and dominates the city's skyline. The first version of St. Peter's Cathedral was built in the year 785, 15 years after the diocese was founded by Charlemagne. The Normans destroyed the church 100 years later, and the present version of the church developed only gradually after a fire around 1100.
The oldest parts of the present-day church are the Romanesque crossing tower, the northern facade and the Romanesque-Gothic west facade. The dome in the middle part of the three-aisled nave is as high as the pillars on which it rests.
The oldest pieces of equipment that have survived to this day are the baptismal font from 1220 and the triumphal cross from 1230. The broken rood screen from 1664 has also survived. Twelve statues received from the Münster sculptor Heinrich Brabender remain preserved to this day, including figures of the Christ and of the Apostles, and also a smaller number of statues received from Duke Erich II of Saxe-Lauenburg, Bishop of Münster. These are on display at the Diocesan Museum of Osnabrück.
Over the centuries, the cathedral changed in appearance - the interior primarily during the Baroque period, to which the altars, figures, and epitaphs bear testimony, and the exterior during the major restoration in 1882-1910 under Alexander Behnes through renovations and building of annexes. During the Second World War the cathedral roof with baroque domes and some church annexes were destroyed by incendiary bombs. The cathedral has since been rebuilt and is still a major attraction for the Christians of the city and the diocese as well as people interested in art history from around the world. The Osnabrück Wheel, which on September 13, 1944 fell from the larger of the towers due to bombing, has been re-erected at the side of the cathedral.
The cloister is attached to the church at south of the nave. It has open pillar-arcades on the remaining three sides. Cushion capitals, which correspond to those in the former west choir of 1140, are present in the east wing. The barrel vault in the eastern part of the cloister features lunettes but no belt bows; the vaults in the south and west wings are supported by belt bows and ogival arches (built in the second quarter of the 13th century). During the Second World War the cloister, which had been walled towards the courtyard, served as an air raid shelter.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.