Sunday was such a beautiful day in our little corner of Bavaria, so we decided to explore a local treasure, Parkstein (literal translation is Stone Park).
Geology: The Volcano and the Basalt Formation
Millions of years ago, a volcano sat at the center of what is now called Parkstein.
The mountain, peaking at about 595 meters above sea level, was formed about 24 million years ago. The basalt wall itself is about 38 meters (124.6 feet) high. The hexagonal basalt columns were formed by large eruptions of basalt lava. It is considered one of the best basalt formations in Europe and is a sight of interest for geologists and those who are fascinated by geology.
Medieval History: The Castle (or Fortress)
On the way to the summit, the ruins of an early medieval castle tell the story of time. The castle was first mentioned in documents in 1053 and tells a rich history of its occupants from 1052 until its dismantling in 1759.
The legend of the emergence of the Stone Park castle says that a young count was hunting boar in the woods around the basalt formation. He saw a magnificent boar and he pursued him up to the summit and killed the animal. Attracted by beauty of the place, he decided to build a castle on the summit.
However, the first record of the castle from 1053 states that the original keep was owned by King Conrad II and burned to the ground by his half-brother, Duke Konrad of Bavaria, during the Christmas of 1052.
The fortress was rebuilt at the turn of the century by Emperor Henry IV and became an imperial seat. Though the castle changed ownership of the course of several hundred years, it reached its glory years in 1278 and 1435. A 30-year war ravaged the fortress and was eventually abandoned and left to the hands of nature and time.
By 1798, all that remained were ruins. However, the town of Parkstein blossomed with the new country courthouse and became a judicial district. On October 1, 1808 Parkstein became magistracy to Neustadt. The basalt formation, rich in granite, sandstone, and quartzite became a mining zone.
Recent History: The Church
Dispersed around the park are these beautiful mosaic Stations of the Cross. I could not find any information as to when these were installed, but they look fairly recent–perhaps sometime in the mid-late 20th century, but I am no historian so cannot be sure. Regardless of when they were placed here, they truly are beautifully made.
This “throne” is a very recent addition. The wood is not overly weathered and you can see swirls from a chainsaw on the seat.
Just think, in 300 years, people will visit this park and think “no what on earth? I thought Germany had no ‘kings’ in the 21st century?”
I call it the Throne of the Fey–yeah I am aware that the Fey are from Irish mythology.
This is the King of the Fey–and he IS Irish!
And this log is the home of the little faeries…
Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on these beautiful statues and was only able to glean a little bit of information about the church. There is, however, a museum at the foot of the formation–which I found out about while doing my research for this post. I am hoping to have more information for you in the follow-up post: Parkstein, Germany Part Two.
Looks like the door is open…Let’s go in shall we?
Don’t you just love old doors? I was fascinated by this one in particular.
I would love to show you the beauty hidden by these unassuming simple wooden doors. I would love for you to see the Priests “throne” and the gold gilded ceiling. I want you to see the golden Illuminati symbol on the ceiling above the Priest’s “throne”, but alas, I cannot.
This was the very last picture I took before my camera shut down. I really MUST remember to bring extra batteries with me.
At least Parkstein is just a 30 minute drive through beautiful countryside. I will be headed back very soon and will share the beauty within the simple exterior of the church with you.
Until then, I hope you enjoyed this short tour of Parkstein.