Alaverdi Monastery is a Georgian Eastern Orthodox monastery located 25 km from Akhmeta. While parts of the monastery date back to 6th century, the present day cathedral was built in the 11th century by Kvirike III of Kakheti, replacing an older church of St. George.
The monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, then a small village and former pagan religious center dedicated to the Moon. At a height of over 55 m, Alaverdi Cathedral was the tallest religious building in Georgia, until the construction of the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, which was consecrated in 2004.
The monastery is the focus of the annual religious celebration Alaverdoba. Situated in the heart of the world's oldest wine region, the monks also make their own wine, known as Alaverdi Monastery Cellar.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.