The castle of Montealegre, built in the 12th century, was mentioned for the first time in 1173, when Rodrígo Gutiérrez was appointed lord of Montealegre; together with the castles of Ampudia, Belmonte, Torremormojón, Medina de Rioseco, Mucientes and Trigueros, it formed the defence line of the southern border of the Kingdom of León. The castle was revamped in 1297 by Alfonso Tello Pérez de Meneses, appointed lord of Montealegre by King Alfonso VIII.
In the 13th century, the domain was transferred to the Order of Saint James, which granted a charter to the village in 1219. Further owners of Montealegre were the Albuquerque (14th century), who defended the castle against King of Castile Peter the Cruel in 1354, and the Manuel (15th-17th centuries). The Manuel family maintained in the town one of the most significant Jewish communities in the province. In 1626, Montealegre became a Marquisate, granted by King Philip IV to Martín de Rojas y Guzmán.
The present castle, with its austere and strong appearance, has a slightly trapezial groundplan, with four strong towers at its corners. Three of them are rectangular and the fourth is pentagonal and served as the keep. In the middle of its curtain walls it is fitted with slender circular towers. The height of its walls range from 18 to 24 meters with a thickness of 4 meters. With its functional and horizontal impression it represents an adoption of a Mediterranean-Arab castle, a style known in Europe from the 13th century.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.