The Teutoburg Forest (German: Teutoburger Wald) is a range of low, forested mountains in the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia which was believed to be the scene of a decisive battle in AD 9. Until the 19th century the official name of the mountain ridge was Osning.
The Teutoburger Wald is a far northern extension of the central European uplands, extending eastward toward the Weser river, southward from the town of Osnabrück and southeastwards to Paderborn. A broad valley, the site of the city of Bielefeld, divides it into the two portions called Northern Teutoburg Forest and Southern Teutoburg Forest. Except for a short area south of Osnabrück, which belongs to the Bundesland of Lower-Saxony, the whole forest is part of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The highest elevation in the Southern Teutoburg Forest is the Velmerstot (468 m) (south of Horn-Bad Meinberg). In the Northern Teutoburg Forest the highest elevation is the Dörenberg (331 m) (north of Bad Iburg).
The river Ems has its source in the southernmost portion of the Teutoburg Forest.
The forest was the site of a battle between the Roman Empire and an alliance of Germanic tribes in AD 9. The location of the battle was identified by the Roman historian Gaius Cornelius Tacitus as saltus Teutoburgiensis (saltus meaning a forest valley in Latin), and the encounter was therefore called the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Moreover, recent excavations suggest that the final stages of the battle took place farther north, at Kalkriese, north of Osnabrück.
Today the Teutoburg Forest is divided in two National Parks:
Hermann's Memorial and renaming of the Osning
Arminius (a.k.a. Hermann the Cherusker), leader of the Germanic tribes during the battle, became something of a legend for his overwhelming victory over the Romans. During the period of national renaissance in the wake of the Napoleonic wars, he was seen as an early protagonist of German resistance to foreign rule and a symbol of national unity. A monumental statue of Arminius commemorating the battle, known as the Hermannsdenkmal (the "Hermann monument"), was erected on the Grotenburg hill near Detmold, near the site where the most popular theory of the time placed the battle. The monument was dedicated in 1875 by Emperor Wilhelm I, first Kaiser of the unified German Empire. He got his own monumental statue at the north of the Osning, called Porta Westfalica, set up at the hill Wittekindsberge in the mountain range of the Wiehengebirge. In order to create a national landscape the Osning mountains came to be named today as the "Teutoburg Forest", see also Teutonic. However, the old name survived among the local population.
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