While the holiday season is still on, you can go for a long walk in the Nationalpark Sächsische Schweiz - Germany's most beautiful national park. It stretches near the Czech border, and tourists know it under the name of Saxon Switzerland.
Probably everyone knows Friedrich’s painting "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog", depicting a figure standing on the top the mountain, staring at the hazy horizon. The painting is now used to promote the German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, called the Saxon Switzerland. They’re located southeast of Dresden, on both sides of the Elbe. Their beauty has already appealed to the Romantics, and today you can wander in their footsteps along the walking route that has 112 km. It’s called Malerweg, or the Way of Painters.
The beauty of Saxon Switzerland
Saxon Switzerland is the perfect place to escape from reality. It's hard to get there by car, but it’s not designed for “round” trips either. Its charm will appeal especially to those, who like to wander along the routes away from civilization, noise and crowds. A day spent among the landscapes of sandy mountains will relax you just like a week spent at some SPA resort. The trail is divided into eight parts, so you can start (and finish) a trip anywhere you want. It’s widely accepted, however, that the route begins near Pirna, in Liebethal, and stretches on the northern banks of the Elbe nearly to the Hinterhermsdorf, and returns back to Pirna following the southern shore.
Route to Bastei can start in one of the most beautiful resorts of Switzerland, Rathen. It’s divided into two parts: the lower Rathen lying on the right bank of the river and the upper Rathen, which houses the railway station. You can easily reach both banks thanks to the ferry cruising on Elbe.
The bridge on Bastei
If you would ask someone, who knows the beauty of the Saxon Switzerland, what is the biggest attraction of the park, the answer would probably be “Bastei bridge”. Bastei itself is a rock group with vertical walls reaching a height of over 200 meters. There you’ll see very rare sandstone rock formations, sprouting up from the River Elbe, like the teeth of giants. In the nineteenth century they were connected by the bridge, from which you can see the watershed of Elbe. Every year this place is visited by around million people.
Another thing worth seeing during the journey, are the so-called Swedish holes (Schwedenlöcher). It’s a picturesque chasm, whose name comes from the period of the Thirty Years War - residents of nearby settlements were hiding here from the Swedish army. From here you can go down to Bastei on a hundreds of stone steps.
A trail of medieval castles
The route among rocks and forests is adorned by medieval fortresses scattered there like stars on the sky, and the castle towering above the village Hohnstein. Currently it serves as a hostel. Here you can stay overnight for approx. 22-34 euros (room without a bathroom and food/with bathroom and breakfast). We'll find it approximately 4-5 km from the lake Amselsee.
Equally beautiful is also the castle in Stolpen. It stands on the top of the basaltic mountains, on the congealed volcano. Tourists are attracted by the beauty of basalt rock pillars and history of the turbulent romance between Augustus II the Strong and Countess Cosel. When the king's heart was taken by a new love, miserable Countess spent almost 50 years alone in the castle.
Another castle, Königstein, is one of the most important mountain fortresses in Europe. In the past it was used as a shelter, jail and juvenile facility. Sixteenth-century castle well is considered the deepest in the world.
Bad Schandau. It’s famous for the most beautiful cycling routes and the tram - the only one in the world, which has a permit to enter the national park. We finish the journey 20 km farther, in Pirna, known as the gateway to Saxon Switzerland.
That's just a fraction of the natural treasures that are waiting in this beautiful region of Germany. Lush greenery of the forests and finesse, with which the erosion has carved original forms in the rocks, will be engraved in memory of anyone, who will visit this place.