Kyffhauser Bund Picture

The Kyffhäuser (German pronunciation: [ˈkɪfˌhɔʏzɐ]) is a range of hills located on the border of the German state of Thuringia with Saxony-Anhalt. It stands on the southern edge of the Harz. The range has a length of 19 kilometres (12 mi) and a width of 7 kilometres (4.3 mi). It reaches its highest point at the Kulpenberg (473.4 metres (1,553 ft)), situated in Thuringia. The Kyffhäuser has significance in German traditional mythology as the resting place of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who drowned on June 10, 1190 in the Göksu River near Silifke during the Third Crusade.

The name Kyffhäuser probably stems from cuffese meaning head or peak. The settlement of Tilleda at the northern rim was already mentioned at the beginning of the 9th century in the Breviarium Lulli as Dullide, an estate of Hersfeld Abbey. A Kaiserpfalz at Tilleda is attested by the 972 marriage certificate of Empress Theophanu. A first castle on the hill above the settlement may have been erected by Emperor Henry IV during his conflict with the Saxons. His son Henry V inherited the quarrels and the castle was finally slighted by the Saxon Duke (and later Emperor) Lothair of Supplinburg in 1119. Lothair himself started the reconstruction in his later years and the Reichsburg Kyffhausen was completed under Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.

According to legend, Barbarossa is not in fact dead, but sleeps in a hidden chamber underneath the Kyffhäuser hills, sitting at a stone table. His beard has supposedly grown so long over the centuries that it grew through the table. As in the similar legend of King Arthur, Barbarossa supposedly awaits his country's hour of greatest need, when he will emerge once again from under the hill. The presence of ravens circling the Kyffhäuser summit is said to be a sign of Barbarossa's continuing presence.

Today, the hills are a tourist site featuring a restored medieval castle from the 11th century. Atop the mountain is the Kyffhäuser Monument, built in 1896, which depicts German Emperor William I and Frederick Barbarossa.
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