Blick auf die Externsteine im Teutoburger Wald, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Ex­tern­steine Horn-Bad Mein­berg

Myths and le­gends sur­round these gi­ant sand­stone pil­lars in the Teuto­burg Forest

The gi­ant Ex­tern­steine sand­stone pil­lars have been stand­ing in the Teuto­burg Forest since the Ice Age. See this amaz­ing nat­ur­al monu­ment for your­self!

A series of huge columns jut­ting out of the earth and soar­ing in­to the sky: the Ex­tern­steine rock form­a­tion is un­doubtedly one of the most im­press­ive nat­ur­al monu­ments in the Teuto­burg Forest re­gion. Mil­lions of years ago, these ori­gin­ally ho­ri­zont­al lay­ers of rock were shif­ted in­to a ver­tic­al po­s­i­tion and pre­sum­ably owe their cur­rent ex­traordin­ary form to the ac­tion of wa­ter over mil­lions of years and the fric­tion of ice dur­ing the Ice Age. An im­press­ive dis­play of the geo­lo­gic­al forces that have shaped our world. The stones ap­pear oth­er-worldly to some of the 500,000 or so people who vis­it the at­trac­tion each year, and some even say that they have ma­gic­al powers...

Closer ex­am­in­a­tion of the five sand­stone columns re­veals that they had fas­cin­ated our very early an­cest­ors in a sim­il­ar fash­ion. They are marked not just by wa­ter erosion, but also by the hands of men. The people who lived in this area in the Middle Ages ap­pear to have es­tab­lished a place of Chris­ti­an wor­ship here, with a grotto, a grave and a re­lief show­ing bib­lic­al scenes all vis­ible today. The re­lief de­pict­ing Christ?s des­cent from the cross is re­garded as a work of art of European im­port­ance. In the 19th cen­tury, some rather more sec­u­lar fea­tures were chis­elled in to the rock: a stair­way lead­ing up to a view­ing plat­form.

The Ex­tern­steine: What le­gends are made of

It is no sur­prise that these rocks have in­spired count­less folk le­gends. Even today, there are some as­pects of the gi­gant­ic sand­stone pil­lars which are not fully un­der­stood. The ori­gin of their name, for starters. The me­di­ev­al ?El­stern­steine? (mag­pie rocks) is prob­ably a cor­rup­tion of an earli­er name. In any case, everything we do know about the stones can be dis­covered at the in­form­a­tion centre, which is the re­com­men­ded first port of call for vis­it­ors to this ex­traordin­ary at­trac­tion. The ex­hib­i­tion is di­vided in­to ten sec­tions, which provide an over­view of the ar­chae­olo­gic­al, cul­tur­al and nat­ur­al his­tory of the Ex­tern­steine. There is also an in­ter­act­ive sec­tion with videos and an­im­a­tions of the rocks and their nat­ur­al en­vir­on­ment.

Today, the area around the Ex­tern­steine is pro­tec­ted by law. This de­cision was not just based on the stones them­selves, but also with a view to pro­tect­ing the sur­round­ing hab­it­ats. These in­clude dry moun­tain heaths, alder, ash and soft­wood forests, and moors. The con­ser­va­tion area was also set up to pro­tect fauna like the her­mit beetle, which is threatened with ex­tinc­tion, and the rare stag beetle. Nearby, the small lakes of the Wiem­beck val­ley provide ex­cep­tion­ally pretty vis­tas, es­pe­cially the main body of wa­ter, which pro­duces beau­ti­ful re­flec­tions of the jagged Ex­tern­steine cliffs.


Open­ing hours:

Janu­ary and Feb­ru­ary:
Sat­urday and Sunday 10:00 - 16:00
Daily 10:00 - 16:00 (closed Monday and Wed­nes­day)
From April on­wards:
Daily 10:00 - 18:00

Map of NRW

Images and videos

Be inspired: images of your NRW

Blick auf die Externsteine im Teutoburger Wald., © Dominik Ketz, Tourismus NRW e.V.
Externsteine Luftaufnahme weit , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

More in­form­a­tion

about Ex­tern­steine

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Wisent Welt Bad Berleburg , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Wild NRW - our "Big Five"

Externsteine seitliche Ansicht , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Ex­tern­steine Horn-Bad Mein­berg

Werksgelände von Rheinkalk am Steinbruch Prangenhaus, © Kreis Mettmann

The Neander Val­ley

Wisent Welt Bad Berleburg , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Wis­ent-Wild­ness Wit­tgen­stein

Der Rursee im Nationalpark Eifel, © Nationalpark Eifel - Nationalparkverwaltung

Eifel Na­tion­al Park