Under the current Santa María La Antigua church foundations have been found remains of a Roman hypocaustum. The church was likely founded in 1095 by Count Pedro Ansúrez, although there are no remains of this original structure. The oldest parts of the current temple date to the late 12th century: the gallery in the northern side of the building and the tower, both in Romanesque style. The tower, one of the symbols of Valladolid, has four floors, the upper three featuring windows, and a pyramidal top.
The naves and sanctuary of the church were rebuilt in the 14th century in Gothic style, following the style of Burgos Cathedral. The church has three aisles, with three polygonal apses and a transept. The nave and the aisles are rib vaulted.
Due to a poor foundation, too next to the Esgueva River, and the increasing size of the parish population, the building underwent successive additions and reparations: in the mid-16th century, architect Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón restored the collapsing building, adding buttresses and several windows.
Also from this period date the high altar retablo, by Juan de Juni (1550-1562; now in the Valladolid Cathedral). Several Baroque altarpieces were executed for the church's interior during the 17th and 18th centuries, hiding the original Gothic appearance.
In the early 20th century the building was extensively restored and rebuilt in order to show its original Romanesque-Gothic appearance, following the doctrines of the French architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.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.