Saxon Switzerland

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Saxon Switzerland
View of the Schrammsteine: Falkenstein and Torstein chain
View of the Schrammsteine: Falkenstein and Torstein chain
Natural region Elbe Sandstone Mountains
Natural area characteristics
Landscape type landscape
Highest peak Great Zschirnstein ( 562  m )
Geographical location
Coordinates 50 ° 55 '13.4 "  N , 14 ° 8' 36.5"  E Coordinates: 50 ° 55 '13.4 "  N , 14 ° 8' 36.5"  E
Saxon Switzerland (Saxony)
Saxon Switzerland
Location Saxon Switzerland
Local area Pirna , Bad Schandau , Sebnitz , Rathen
circle District of Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains
state Saxony
Country Germany

As Saxon Switzerland is German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxony called. The landscape, characterized by bizarre rock shapes, is located southeast of Dresden on both sides of the Elbe in the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains district .


View of the Upper Saxon Switzerland from the north
Physical map of Saxon Switzerland
Bastei bridge from 1851, a landmark of Saxon Switzerland
The Barbarine - a solitary rock
The "Höllenschlund" - a hiking trail in the Wehlener Grund between Rathen and Wehlen

To the east, Saxon Switzerland merges into the Lusatian Mountains and to the west into the Ore Mountains . The adjacent Czech part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains is called Bohemian Switzerland . The highest point in Saxon Switzerland is the Great Zschirnstein at 562  m above sea level. NN .

Saxon Switzerland is divided into Front and Back Saxon Switzerland. The entire area on the left bank of the Elbe, including the flatnesses and table mountains such as the Pfaffenstein or the Königstein as well as the Lilienstein on the right bank of the Elbe , the Bastei area and the Brand belong to the Upper Saxon Switzerland . The Upper Saxon Switzerland includes the large right Elbe forest and rocky areas east of Bad Schandau and south of the Sebnitz valley to the Czech border.

Natural allocation

In the natural spatial structure according to Meynen , Saxon Switzerland represents a main unit (430) within the Saxon-Bohemian chalk sandstone area (main unit group 43), which on German soil otherwise only includes the Zittau Mountains as the main unit. The interface between the two main mountains, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and the Lusatian Mountains , is located on Czech soil, which is why these natural areas are spatially separated from each other.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the working group Natural Balance and Territorial Character of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig combined all low mountain ranges in the Saxon-Bohemian border area to form the Saxon highlands and low mountain ranges . Between Saxon Switzerland and the Zittau Mountains, this includes the Lausitzer Bergland , which, after Meynen, was combined with the loess hills to the north and east to form the main unit of Upper Lusatia ; to the west the new unity continues in the main unit groups Erzgebirge and Vogtland .

Geological origin

See Elbe Sandstone Mountains (section: Geology)

Mountain shapes

The lily stone in the morning light

As a rule, two types of mountains can be distinguished. As stones many are rock formations of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in the Czech referred and Saxon Switzerland. Prominent examples are the Königstein , the Lilienstein , Gohrisch and Papststein . The name does not extend to the hill-like peaks made of volcanic basalt or granitic material of the basement such as the Waitzdorfer Höhe or the Großer Winterberg .

The Cretan sandstone formations protrude from the so-called flatness , the former level of the Elbe, and in turn represent the remains of an earlier hull surface. In the course of the late Tertiary uplift of the Ore Mountains and the lateral pressure from the Lusatian mountains , the sandstone slab broke like a cross-lattice, which at the same time as the flow speed of the Elbe and receding erosion in the side valleys offered opportunities for attack and channels for the destructive power of the water. Initially, the larger table mountains (Lilienstein), or already strongly fissured ones such as Zirkelstein or Kaiserkrone , or already wooded ones ( Kohlbornstein ), which dissolved into elongated ridges (Schrammsteine) up to individual rock needles (gatekeeper) when further erosive destruction remained. Morphologically harder layers, which resist erosion longer and more successfully, usually form the top layer. The collapse usually takes place from below or from the rock flanks.


The bastion around 1900
View from Winterberg around 1850

In the area of ​​Saxon Switzerland there are a number of castles that were built to protect the trade routes. The Königstein Fortress and Hohnstein Castle have been preserved . Only sparse remains of other facilities have remained, such as the small bastion or the castle on the Falkenstein (today a climbing peak). Some of the castles were also used as medieval predatory nests. Originally this area was inhabited by Slavs and it was not until the 15th century that it came under Saxon rule within approximately today's boundaries .

The tourist development did not begin until the 19th century. In this context, one of the first trolleybus lines in the world also operated in Saxon Switzerland , the Bielatalbahn (operating from 1901 to 1904) starting from Königstein .

Romantic artists were inspired by the wild beauty of the rocks, such as the painter Caspar David Friedrich for his work Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer , as well as Ludwig Richter , Alexander Thiele and Carl Gustav Carus . The composer Carl Maria von Weber relocated his famous opera Freischütz with the Wolfsschluchtszene near Rathen . Richard Wagner was inspired here for the Lohengrin .

In the time of National Socialism , the designation of German landscapes as "Switzerland" was officially frowned upon. For this reason, with effect from October 19, 1938, the municipality names of Königstein , Obervogelgesang , Ottendorf , Porschdorf , Rathen , Rathewalde , Rathmannsdorf and Reinhardtsdorf were given the official addition “Saxon Switzerland” by “Amtshauptmannschaft Pirna” or from January 1939 “Kreis Pirna “Replaced.


The name Saxon Switzerland originated in the 18th century. The two Swiss artists Adrian Zingg and Anton Graff were appointed to the Dresden Art Academy in 1766. “From their new adopted home they saw a mountain range to the east, about a day's walk away. It showed a strangely flattened panorama, with no actual peaks [...] "( after Lothar Kempe ). The landscape reminded them of their homeland, the Swiss Jura , and reported in their correspondence about the distinction between their homeland and" Saxon Switzerland " . Previously, the Saxon part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains was only referred to as the Meißner Hochland , Meißnisches Oberland or Heide over Schandau .

The name became popular through the publications of Wilhelm Leberecht Götzinger . In his books he described Saxon Switzerland and made the name known to a wide audience.

National park

View of the Elbe near Rathen

In September 1990 - before German unification - the Saxon Switzerland National Park was created to protect the unique natural character of the mountains. The 93 km² area comprises two spatially separated areas: near Rathen the area of ​​the Bastei with Polenztal , Brand and Uttewalder Grund as well as the entire rear Saxon Switzerland between the Elbe and the state border with the Czech Republic with the Schrammsteinen , the Großer Winterberg , Großer Zschand and Kirnitzschtal .

Rock climbing

The landscape of Saxon Switzerland is characterized by many sandstone rocks. As a result, the popular leisure activity of climbing has developed. Climbing is carried out according to the Saxon rules , which were the first of their kind in the world to emerge at the beginning of the 20th century ; traditional Saxon climbing was expressly guaranteed when the national park was founded. Ropes and securing points such as rings may only be used for securing, but not for movement. Aids such as magnesia , wedges or friends that are common in other climbing areas are not allowed. Instead, knot and ribbon loops are used.

With three exceptions, climbing on massive mountains is not permitted and generally only permitted on designated, free-standing climbing peaks, of which there are over 1100.

In addition to the climbing peaks, there are also various stairs, where even hikers who are free from giddiness and sure-footed can overcome the sometimes quite large height differences with the help of stairs, ladders, metal steps and handles at various points. The most popular stairs include the Häntzschelstiege and the twin stairs in the Affensteinen as well as the Heilige Stiege , the Rübezahlstiege and the Rotkehlchenstiege north of Schmilka .


Spending the night under a ledge, the so-called boofe, or staying overnight at all, has a long tradition in Saxon Switzerland. Many young people go to Saxon Switzerland for the weekend to boo. In the national park, boofen is only allowed in the places marked by the national park office and only in connection with climbing. The growing number of boofers and the wrong behavior of individuals (illegal fireplaces , tearing out young trees, soil erosion ), which repeatedly leads to disputes, are problematic .



View from the Hohburkersdorfer Rundblick : Panorama of the Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland , shows from the left the Lusatian Mountains , including the Studenec (Kaltenberg); some smaller mountains near Hohnstein as well as
Hohnstein Castle , the Polenztal , the Great Winterberg (the highest mountain on the right Elbe in Saxon Switzerland), the Rosenberg , the Affensteine and the Schrammsteine , the Kaiserkrone and the Zirkelstein , the Zschirnsteine with the small and the large Zschirnstein (the highest mountain in Saxon Switzerland), then the Papststein and the Gohrisch and in between in the distance near Ústí nad Labem the Buková hora with its television tower. In the foreground you can see the Lokomotive climbing rock near Rathen . On the horizon now follows the Hohe Schneeberg (the highest mountain in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains), in front of it the Lilienstein , further to the right the bastion from behind and above the fortress Königstein . Even further to the right follow the Rauenstein and the Bärensteine and the town of Leupoldishain with the area of ​​the Wismut . The ridge of the Osterzgebirge stretches on the horizon and Pirna -Sonnenstein in the foreground .


On September 23, 2008, Saxon Switzerland received the title “ Place of Diversity ” awarded by the Federal Government .

As of June 2, 2016, Deutsche Post AG is issuing a postage stamp worth 45 euro cents with a mountain motif of Saxon Switzerland in the Wildes Deutschland series . The design comes from the graphic designer Dieter Ziegenfeuter from Dortmund.



  • Königstein area, Saxon Switzerland (= values ​​of the German homeland . Volume 1). 1st edition. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1957.
  • Between Sebnitz, Hinterhermsdorf and the Zschirnsteinen (= values ​​of the German homeland . Volume 2). 1st edition. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1959.
  • In the south of the Barbarine (= values ​​of the German homeland . Volume 3). 1st edition. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1960.
  • Pirna and its surroundings (= values ​​of the German homeland . Volume 9). 1st edition. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1966.
  • Theodor Arldt : With a walking stick and climbing rope through the Saxon rocky mountains . Dresden, Weise 1927
  • Wilhelm Leberecht Götzinger : Schandau and its surroundings, or description of Saxon Switzerland. Begersche Buch- und Kunsthandlung, Dresden 1812.
  • Heinz Klemm : The discovery of Saxon Switzerland. Sachsenverlag, Dresden 1953.
  • Dieter Kutschke: Quarries and stone crushers in Saxon Switzerland. Series of publications by the Pirna City Museum, Vol. 11, Pirna 2000
  • Moritz Martin: From home and yard. Villagers, raftsmen and stone breakers in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Series of publications by the Pirna City Museum, Vol. 9, Pirna 1996
  • Alfred Meiche : The castles and prehistoric dwellings of Saxon Switzerland. Wilhelm Baensch Verlagbuchhandlung, Dresden 1907. (Reprint Leipzig 1979) ( digitized version )
  • Alfred Meiche: Historical-topographical description of the Pirna administration. Dresden 1927. ( digitized version )
  • Rene Misterek (ed.): The conquest of Saxon Switzerland. Contributions to the history of tourism. Pirnaer Museumhefte vol. 14 (formerly series of publications of the Pirna City Museum), Pirna 2015
  • Saxon State Ministry for the Environment and Regional Development, Saxon Switzerland National Park Administration: Saxon Switzerland. Regional treatise nature - people - culture. Dresden / Bad Schandau 1998
  • Anke Fröhlich-Schauseil, Rene Misterek: Saxon Switzerland in the fine arts. Pirnaer Museumhefte Vol. 15 (formerly the series of publications of the Pirna City Museum), Pirna 2017
  • Saxon Switzerland Tourism Association (Ed.): Churches in Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland. Bad Schandau 1999
  • Saxon Switzerland Tourism Association (Ed.): Museums and technical monuments in Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland. Bad Schandau 2000

Series of publications

  • Saxon Switzerland working group in the Saxon Homeland Security Regional Association (ed.): Bulletin. Pirna 2005 ff. (14 volumes with essays mainly on folklore and local history topics from Saxon Switzerland have been published by 2015)
  • Sächsischer Bergsteigerbund (Ed.): Saxon Switzerland Initiative. Current information on environmental and nature conservation in the national park region. Dresden 1990ff. (32 issues were published by 2015)

Web links

Commons : Saxon Switzerland  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Holm Riebe: The nature of the rear Saxon Switzerland . in: Peter Rölke (Hrsg.): Hiking & Nature Guide Saxon Switzerland. Volume 1, Rölke, Dresden 1999, ISBN 3-934514-08-1 , pp. 27-31.
  2. Holm Riebe: The nature of the front and left Elbe Saxon Switzerland with the Elbe valley . in: Peter Rölke (Hrsg.): Hiking & Nature Guide Saxon Switzerland. Volume 2, Rölke, Dresden 2000, ISBN 3-934514-09-X , pp. 16-22.
  3. Map of the natural areas in Saxony ( Memento from February 24, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), (PDF; 859 kB)
  4. Statistics of the German Reich, Volume 450: Official municipality directory for the German Reich, Part I, Berlin 1939; P. 272.
  5. ^ A b Sieghard love, Lothar Kempe: Saxon Switzerland and trips to Bohemian Switzerland . Brockhaus, Leipzig 1974, p. 5