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.

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User Reviews

Toni Floman (15 months ago)
Very nice place, good guides for short history of place. Interesting piece of history can be found here. On top of the rocks view is nice over surrounding landscape. Note that requires some walking from parking lot.
Gabrielle Glenda Yauwira (16 months ago)
The view was breathtaking. It is so peaceful. Though to climb up the rocks you should pay €4 per entry. Perfect for an evening picnic or a morning hike. There are various routes to explore the hilly forests surrounding it. It is quite crowded on Saturday.
Sheryl Fredricks (16 months ago)
This is an interesting place to visit. It is quite a wonder, these large rocks jutting vertically out of the Earth right in the middle the beautiful rolling hills of the country. If you are able, climb the steps to the top and enjoy the view and the upper level with the round window and wall markings.
Matthew Harcourt (16 months ago)
Good fun and really worth a trip when it is quiet. The car park is huge and close to the stones if you aren't prepared to walk far. Once there the free museum by the car park is very informative and should be visited. The stones themselves are a real treat and should be explored. During the summer it is worth arriving early as the narrow staircases and multiple twists and turns make it very testing to explore once busy. The woods nearby are ancient and really beautiful. The range of trails is good, though not hugely varied. Entrance to the stones can involve buying a combined ticket to Herman's Denkmal.
Marco Galbiati (18 months ago)
Magical place. Only regret is the road taking there: would have been better if it was just a path. Luckily no cars around. People are sensible enough not to drive all the way to the rock.
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