Externsteine - magical rock formation, Germany
During travelling through the scenic Teutoburg Forest in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalianear, you can find the picturesque group of rocks a few kilometres from the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. Its name - Extersteine - usually translates as stones of the ridge. This is a highly unusual rock formation. In an area otherwise devoid of large rocks, the soaring, slender columns of Externsteine stand out as they rise sharply and with no little majesty from the surrounding landscape.
The 13 sandstone pillars have been ornamented over the millennia by human hand. Yet the true origins of the star stones can be discovered through geology. The unusual geological formation consists of a hard, erosion-resistant sandstone (so-called Osningsandstein), laid down during the early Cretaceous era about 100 million years ago. Thousands of years of erosion have washed the rocks from the surrounding soil and then were formed the surface of the stone. The rock formation stretches for several hundred metres. The largest rock rises 38 m above the surrounding area and is known as the Grottenfels due to its cave. The next one is named as Turmfels (tower) and rises 37.5 m. Next rock is called Treppenfels (stairs). A large gap separates that group of rocks to the next one - Wackelsteinfelsen - named due to a loose boulder (now fixed in place) at its top.
The stone pillars have been modified and decorated by humans over the centuries. The Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages. It is thought that the site was possibly used for astronomical observation, worship and sacrifice. The rocks were the site of a Christian chapel at the high medieval period. From that period comes relief - depiction of the Descent of the Jesus from the Cross. These may have been a reconstruction of the Holy Sepulchre. Probably the Externsteine were intended as a destination for pilgrims unable to travel to Jerusalem.
Most of the human-made alterations are on the southwestern side of the rocks. The pond that currently lies at the foot of the formation is also artificial. In 1836 the Wiembecke stream flowing past the stones was dammed to form an artificial pond.
The Externsteine are the synthesis of natural energy and human influence, therefore this place is the nature reserve and since 2006 has been a Nationaler Geotop (national geotope). Little wonder that the magical rock formation has been attracting curious visitors.
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