The fortress of Lichtenau goes back to a medieval water castle. In 1406 Nuremberg purchased the village and the castle of Lichtenau from Frederick II of Heideck. Because of the location of Lichtenau as a tactical outpost of the Imperial City of Nuremberg within the territory of the margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach there was frequently tension and destruction as a result of warlike conflicts.
During the First Margrave War in 1449 Albrecht Achilles invaded Lichtenau, devastated the land and captured the castle. The castle was not returned until 1453. In the course of the Second Margrave War, in 1553, it was totally destroyed by Albrecht Alcibiades even though it had been surrendered without a fight. The Imperial City of Nuremberg had a completely new castle built. Due to the level of destruction, the rebuild took until 1630 to complete.
Barely a year later, the fortress was besieged by imperial troops and Georg Scheurl handed over the fortress, again without resisting, to the imperial commander, Tilly who, however, did not damage it. The last major attack on the fortress was in 1688, in a raid by troops of the French 'sun king', Louis XIV. The French demanded that the pfleger, John Frederick Haller of Hallerstein surrender it. He, however, broke the tradition of handing it over without a fight and fought back, whereupon the French gave up storming the fortification.
In 1806 Lichtenau fell, like Nuremberg and the rest of Franconia, to the Kingdom of Bavaria, whereupon the fortress was used as a gaol. In this period, Lichtenau was governed inter alia by Ludwig von Redwitz (1779–1848) as governor of the gaol; his son, later the well known poet, Oskar von Redwitz, was born here in 1823.
Lichtenau Fortress is a splendid example of Renaissance architecture even though from a military perspective it did not represent the state of the art of fortifications at the time of its completion and was not easy to defend against siege artillery due to its location in a valley.
After thorough renovation, the fortress is used today by the Free State of Bavaria as an satellite site for the Nuremberg State Archives. The inner courtyard and the wall platforms are open during the day for sightseeing. Once a year in July the local history society organizes the castle festival. During this festival, which also attracts young people from the wider region, the castle is open to the public on two days.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.