The Monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza is a former Benedictine monastery in Gradefes. Today in ruins, it was once the second most important monastery in the province, after the monastery of San Benito in Sahagún. It was founded in 912 by King García I of León, but was destroyed by the Moorish ruler Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 988; it was therefore rebuilt in 1099 by the Urraca of Zamora, daughter of Ferdinand I of León and Castile. In 1109 she became queen of Galicia, León and Castile, and gave consistent donations to the monastery.
The edifice was in ruinous state in the 16th century, and was therefore restored with, among the other interventions, three new Renaissance portals. The main façade was added in Baroque style: its niches once housed statues of saints, now disappeared.
The monastery's prosperity suffered a severe blow in 1836 with the Ecclesiastical Confiscation of Mendizábal, by which it was sold and its artistic heritage split between numerous buyers. Its decline continued despite the fact that, in 1931, it was declared a national monument. In the period between 1944 and 1970 bishop Luis Almarcha Hernández moved its portals to the church of San Juan y San Pedro de Renueva, at León, saving them from destruction.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.