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The Kyffhäuser Monument (German: Kyffhäuserdenkmal), also known as the Barbarossa Monument (Barbarossadenkmal), is a Kaiser William monument erected in 1890–96 within the Kyffhäuser mountain range near Bad Frankenhausen in the state of Thuringia in Central Germany.
The monument, which totals 81 metres (266 ft) tall, is located in the eastern part of the Kyffhäuser range at an elevation of c. 420 m (1,380 ft) below the Kyffhäuserburgberg peak, 439.7 m (1,443 ft). The site belongs to Steinthaleben in the municipal area of Kyffhäuserland, about 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) north of Bad Frankenhausen and southwest of Tilleda in the Goldene Aue plain.
The monument was built according to plans drawn by the German architect Bruno Schmitz (1858–1916) atop the ruins of the medieval Imperial castle of Kyffhausen. The monument was initially proposed by the 19th Century German War Veterans Federation, which under the name Kyffhäuserbund (Kyffhäuser Federation) took over its maintenance after 1900.
Stylistically, the Kyffhäuser Monument recalls the castles and fortresses of the Hohenstaufen period in Germany in the 12th and 13th centuries. It was intended to suggest that the Prussia-dominated German Empire founded in 1871 was the legitimate successor to the medieval Holy Roman Empire. It also signifies the national theme of decline and rebirth.
The monument features a 6.5-metre-tall (21 ft) sandstone figure of the Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick I, better known as Barbarossa ("The Red-Bearded"), who appears to just have awakened from sleep. Above him stands an 11-metre-tall (36 ft) bronze equestrian statue of Kaiser William I (Wilhelm I.), the first emperor of the Second Reich, designed by Sculptor Emil Hundrieser (1846–1911) in the neo-baroque style. This composition expresses the monument's theme: That William I brought to fruition the unification of the German nation that had been so long desired since Barbarossa's time.
Towering over the monument is a 57-metre (187 ft) tower topped by a huge imperial crown. A 247-step stairway leads to the top of the tower, offering a panoramic view.
An adjacent building features exhibits depicting the medieval Kyffhausen Fortress and the Legend of Barbarossa, which held that Frederick Barbarossa, who died during the Third Crusade, was sleeping under the Kyffhäuser Mountain and someday would awaken again to life when Germany needed his leadership.
The Kyffhäuser Monument is the third-largest monument in Germany, after the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Battle of Nations monument) in Leipzig, commemorating a pivotal 1813 victory in the war against Napoleon, and the Kaiser Wilhelm Monument at Porta Westfalica, both of which also were designed by Bruno Schmitz.
- Gunther Mai: Das Kyffhäuser-Denkmal 1896-1996; Böhlau Verlag; 1997; ISBN 3-412-02397-3
- Rudy Koshar: From Monuments to Traces: Artifacts of German Memory, 1870-1990; University of California Press, 2000; ISBN 0-520-21768-3.
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