Rodez Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez) is a national monument and is the seat of the Bishopric of Rodez. The closed west front once formed part of the city wall of Rodez.
Rodez was Christianized in the 4th-5th century AD, and the first mention of a cathedral dates from around 516. This structure was rebuilt c. 1000; almost nothing remains of it after the decision to rebuild it from scratch in 1276.
The works were halted for many years by the Black Death and the Hundred Years War, and were restarted only in the early 15th century with the completion of the choir and its vault, as well as the transept and of the first sectors of the nave. After the fire of 1510, bishop François d'Estaing had it rebuilt in 1513-1526 under the direction of Antoine Salvan with a new majestic bell tower. The cathedral was completed around 1531.
In 1792–98, Pierre Méchain and Jean-Baptiste Delambre used Rodez Cathedral as the central surveying point for their calculation of the circumference of the earth. This was used in the definition of the metre.
Despite the long construction process, the cathedral is characterized by a remarkable unity of style, which is mostly the Gothic one imported by architect Jean Deschamps into the Midi from northern France.
The cathedral is constructed of red sandstone. It has a severe façade, flanked by two sturdy towers, which betray its defensive function: the west front once formed part of the city walls of Rodez. The belltower, standing at 87 m, is surmounted by a lantern carrying the statue of the Virgin with a choir of four angels.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.