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Goseck Sun Observatory - older than Stonehenge

Set on a plateau above the Saale valley in eastern Germany, the Goseck sun circle is the oldest observatory in Europe, dating back more than 7,000 years. Goseck also served as a shrine and a place of worship, at which rituals were celebrated and sacrifices made to the sun. The site is of great importance in the history of both astronomy and religion.
Stonehenge in England may get more headlines, but the early Stone Age site at Goseck - also part of the "henge" era - pre-dates it by some 2,000 years. A captivating mysticism surrounds the Goseck circle, which occupies an area of around 6,000 square metres between Naumburg and Weissenfels in Saxony-Anhalt. According to experts, the three-gated site provides an in-depth and illuminating insight into the spiritual and religious world of Europe's first agricultural societies.
The ability to "read" the stars was crucial for the survival of the early farmers. Astrology was used to determine the most favourable dates for sowing and harvesting the land. Other discoveries have proven more difficult to explain. Human bones with the flesh scraped off have been found inside the circle. Whether these are evidence of human sacrifice or gruesome burial rituals remains an unanswered question.
The sun observatory is a circular ditch approximately 70 metres in diameter, which would have been surrounded by wooden palisades (now recreated). These palisades were broken up by three openings, facing south-east, south-west and north, that narrowed as they approached the centre. Inside were two further concentric circles consisting of 1,675 oak tree trunks. From within the observatory, ancient peoples would have been able to precisely determine the winter and summer solstices using special sight lines. Today, the winter solstice on 21 December is celebrated annually at the observatory with a sunset fire display and musical entertainment. An information centre inside nearby Goseck Castle has four modern exhibition rooms that complement any visit to the site. Open daily except for Mondays between November and March and on 24 December. Guided tours are available on request.

Internet: http://www.sonnenobservatorium-goseck.inf/


A9, B176, B87, Naumburg or Weissenfels train station