The stone church of Gamla Uppsala, built over the pagan temple, dates from the early 12th century. Due to fire and renovations, the present church is only a remnant of the original cathedral.
Before the arrival of Christianity in Sweden, Gamla Uppsala was the seat of Swedish kings and a ceremonial site known all over northern Europe. The settlement was home to royal palaces, a royal burial ground, and a great pagan temple. The Uppsala temple, which was described in detail by Adam of Bremen in the 1070s, housed wooden statues of the Norse gods Odin, Thor and Freyr. A golden chain hung across its gables and the inside was richly decorated with gold. The temple had priests, who sacrificed to the gods according to the needs of the people.
The first Christian cathedral was probably built in the 11th century, but finished in the 12th century. The stone building may have been preceded by a wooden church and probably by the large pagan temple. The church was the Archbishopric of Sweden prior to 1273, when the archbishopric was moved to Östra Aros (Östra Aros was then renamed Uppsala due to a papal request). After a fire in 1240, the nave and transepts of the cathedral were removed leaving only the choir and central tower, and with the addition of the sacristy and the porch gave the church its present outer appearance.
In the 15th century, vaults were added as well as chalk paintings. Among the medieval wooden sculptures there are three crucifixes from the 12th, 13th and 15th centuries. Valerius (Archbishop of Uppsala) is buried here. Eric IX of Sweden was as well, before being moved to Uppsala Cathedral.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.