Como Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in the region. It is commonly described as the last Gothic cathedral built in Italy: construction on it, on the site of the earlier Romanesque cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Maggiore, began in 1396, 10 years after the foundation of Milan Cathedral. The construction works, started under the supervision of Lorenzo degli Spazzi di Laino, did not finish until 1770 with the completion of the Rococo cupola by Filippo Juvarra. The imposing west front was built between 1457 and 1498 and features a rose window and a portal between two statues of Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, natives of Como.
It is 87 metres long, from 36 to 56 metres wide, and 75 metres high into the top of the cupola. It has a Latin Cross floor plan with a central nave and two side aisles, separated by pillars, and a Renaissance transept, with an imposing cupola over the crossing. The apses and the choir are of the 16th century. The interior has some important tapestries, and others of the 16th and 17th centuries, made in Ferrara, Florence and Antwerp. There are also a number of 16th-century paintings by Bernardino Luini and Gaudenzio Ferrari.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.