Unspunnen Castle, likely constructed in the early 12th century, overlooks the city of Interlaken. The castle was the center of a 13th-14th century fief of an Oberland barons, though the name of the barons or the castle builder is unknown. The cave castle of Rotenfluh at Tschingelsatz and Unspunnen Castle (first mentioned in 1232 as Uspunnun) were used to guard the late medieval Lütschinenbrücke, a bridge at Gsteig near Interlaken.
In the 13th century it belonged to the Herrschaft of Burkart of Thun, who acquired it through his 1224 marriage to the family of the Baron of Wädenswil. A division of inheritance, possibly in 1280, cut the Herrschaft in half, the Baron of Eschenbach got the castle and the surrounding villages while the Baron of Weissenburg got Rotenfluh Castle along with other villages. After the assassination of Albert I of Germany by his nephew John in 1308 the Habsburg in Austria claimed the Eschenbach lands, but in 1318 they pledged these lands to the Baron of Weissenburg as collateral. In 1332, the peasants of the surrounding villages unsuccessfully rose up against Johann of Weissenburg and the leaders were imprisoned in the castle. In 1334, the Oberhasli region was invaded by Bern and the castle was besieged. After Bern took the castle, the prisoners were freed, though the barons retained the castle.
After the Bernese victory in the Battle of Laupen in 1339, the barons were forced to pledge the Unspunnen and Rotenfluh castles as part of the peace settlement. A few years later, in 1342, the Habsburgs redeemed this pledge and then pledged it on to their followers, including the lords of Interlaken, Hallwyl and Kyburg. During the Battle of Sempach in 1386, Bern occupied the area and in 1397 paid off the mortgage. In the next year they sold the castle and lands to the von Seftigen and von Scharnachtal families, who were citizens of Bern. In 1418 and again in 1515, Bern bought the lands back from the families' heirs. Bern placed the Unspunnen lands directly under the city's authority in 1529. In 1762 the lands were transferred to the administration of Interlaken and the castle was allowed to fall into disrepair. The ruins became famous through the Unspunnenfest in 1805 which led to regular cleaning and repairs of the ruins.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.