Laufen Castle is a castle in the municipality of Laufen-Uhwiesen in the Swiss canton of Zurich. It is a Swiss heritage site of national significance overlooking the Rhine Falls.
The first documented reference to the castle dates to the year 858 when it was the home of the Barons of Laufen. It passed through several owners until the Old Zürich War (1439-1450) when the castle was acquired by the Fulach family, from whom the city of Zurich bought the castle in 1544. Following the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) the castle was once again in private ownership, with the city of Zurich reacquiring the castle by buying it again in 1941.
The castle now serves as a tourist attraction, and contains a restaurant and a youth hostel. Between 2009 and 2010 a project was undertaken to restore and expand the facilities, including a visitors’ centre situated in the former staff quarters, an exhibition in the northern part of the castle, and a wheelchair-accessible circular walkway with glass lift between castle and river levels. Laufen is overlooking Wörth Castle, on the opposite side of the Rhein river, in the Canton of Schaffhausen.
The Rheinfall railway line passes through a tunnel under the castle, halting at the Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall station to the south of the tunnel and beneath the castle walls. The station is linked to the castle by a walkway.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.