The Gurjaani Kvelatsminda Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God is a Georgian Orthodox church constructed in the 8th or 9th century, during the 'transitional period' in the medieval Georgian architecture. It is located in the town of Gurjaani in Georgia's easternmost region of Kakheti.
The Gurjaani church is the only extant example of a two-dome church design in the territory of Georgia. It is mostly built of straight courses of cobblestone; corners and decorations are made of squares of pumice stone and arches, vaults, and pillars consist of brick. The church is a complex design, some portions of it organized as two-storey structures. Naves are separated by two pairs of pillars. A high, span-roofed middle nave ends in a horseshoe apse and is divided into three square portions. Each of the outermost squares are topped by low octahedral domes, crowned with vaults. In the 17th century, Persian invasions and Dagestani inroads into the area resulted in abandonment of church services which would not resume until 1822. In 1845, however, the clergy of Gurjaani moved to the Khirsa Monastery and the Kvelatsminda Church was once again abandoned. In 1938, the Georgian authorities cleaned the area of the church and restored it as a historical monument. Further conservation works were conducted in 2010.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.