The Bonn Minster (Bonner Münster) is one of Germany's oldest churches, having been built between the 11th and 13th centuries. At one point the church served as the cathedral for the Archbishopric of Cologne.
Castra Bonnensia was a fortress on the site of current Bonn built by the Romans in the 1st century AD. It survived the breakup of the Roman Empire as a civilian settlement, and in the 9th century it became the Frankish town of Bonnburg.
Around 235 AD, two Christian Roman soldiers stationed in Castra Bonnensia, Cassius and Florentius, were martyred for their faith. Tradition has it that a small memorial shrine was built over their graves in the 4th century by St. Helen, mother of Constantine. There is no surviving evidence of this first structure, but archaeological excavations have shown that the basilica stands on the site of a Roman temple and necropolis.
The original memorial hall was expanded into a larger church in the 6th and 7th centuries, and many people were buried near the martyrs inside and outside the building. Further extensions were carried out in the 8th century.
Around 1050 the church was demolished and construction began on the present Romanesque building, which dates from the 11th to 13th centuries. By the end of this period Bonn had grown in importance, becoming the capital of the Electorate and Archbishopric of Cologne, which was then a sovereign state. The new basilica appeared in the city's coat of arms. In 1643, Cassius and Florentius were officially declared the patron saints of the city of Bonn.
The basilica suffered significant damage in 1583-89, 1689, and in World War II, but each time it was fully restored. In 1956, the Bonner Münster was granted the status of Papal Minor Basilica.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.