High above DETMOLD on the forested ridge of the Teutoburger Wald, a solitary, wing-helmeted warrior raises his sword above the canopy of trees. The Hermannsdenkmal (March– Oct 9am–6.30pm; Nov– Feb 9.30am–4pm; 1.30; Web: www.hermannsdenkmal.de ) was the vision of one dogged obsessive, the sculptor Joseph Ernst von Bandel, a bust of whom stands outside the hut he occupied while struggling to complete the 53.46-metre-high monument, begun in 1838 and finally completed with financial support from the Prussian state in 1875. The copper-green warrior commemorates Arminius (or "Hermann"), chieftain of the Cherusci, who united local tribes in 9 AD to annihilate three Roman legions at the battle of Teutoburger Wald and thus struck an early blow for German unity. Though the impetus for Hermann's construction was blatantly nationalistic, these days he cuts a romantic figure, and there's no denying the beauty of the views from the platform at his feet.
A path descends through the woods east of the monument to reach the LWL-Freilichtmuseum on the town's southern outskirts (April– Oct Tues– Sun 9am–6pm; 5; Web: www.lwl-freilichtmuseum-detmold.de ), Germany's largest open-air museum, which assembles an evocative collection of rustic half-timbered buildings from across the region, along with a forge, a bakery, and rare breeds of domestic animals. To the south of the Hermannsdenkmal at Ostertalstrasse 1, the Vogelpark Heiligenkirchen (mid-March to mid-Nov 9am–6pm; 6; Web: www.vogelpark-heiligenkirchen.de ) is a family-friendly aviary and zoo with over a thousand species, including plenty of exotica; the daily feeding of the parrot chicks at 3pm is a highlight for children. More avian attractions are found nearby at the Adlerwarte Berlebeck (mid-Feb to mid-Nov 9.30am–5.30pm; 5), where you can see eagles and other birds of prey in free flight. Detmold's final outlying attraction is the Externsteine ( 1 parking, but free access to site on foot), a series of strange sandstone pinnacles southeast of town with an intriguing religious significance: thought to have originally been a pagan site, the rocks were allegedly adopted by Christians in the Middle Ages as a substitute for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
All these attractions are linked to Detmold at weekends by bus #792; access on weekdays is more problematic without a car, though bus #701 passes the Freilichtmuseum and will get you to the foot of Hermann's hill, the Grotenburg, and to the Adlerwarte.
After the natural and nationalistic thrills of the surrounding district, Detmold's genteel Altstadt can seem rather tame, yet it's an undeniably pretty town with hundreds of historic buildings in a variety of styles from slate-hung and half-timbered to Jugendstil. Lange Strasse, the main street, is handsome enough, but for sheer cuteness it's hard to beat the row of half-timbered seventeenth-century artisans' cottages in quiet Adolfstrasse, east of Markt off Schuler Strasse. The centre of the town is dominated by the Fürstliches Residenzschloss (daily: April– Oct 10am–5pm; Nov– March 10am–4pm; 4), a fine example of the Weser Renaissance style, which you can visit on one of the hourly guided tours.