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Saxon Switzerland, where rock formations tower above the Elbe River

Nature has created a beautiful world all of its own just outside the city of Dresden, right on the border to the Czech Republic. This extraordinary landscape is called "Sächsische Schweiz."

autumnal view from a mountaintop down into a river valley

A view down on to the Elbe River valley

During the Cretaceous period, the valley of the Elbe River was a sea. Later, erosion and volcanic activity carved out not only the river bed but also sculpted fantastic landforms known as the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.

This famous region is known as Saechsische Schweiz, literally meaning "Saxon Switzerland." It has long been a destination for tourists keen to see romantic landscapes. Bizarrely-shaped cliffs and majestic flat-topped hills have inspired artists such as Caspar David Friedrich and the composer Karl Maria von Weber, whose opera "Der Freischuetz" was inspired by the landscape.

A bridge built among rock formations

The Bastei Bridge offers fantastic views

The Sächsische Schweiz National Park has hundreds of hiking trails in it. The place is also a favorite destination for rock climbers. Climbers can test their skills on more than 1,000 vertical rock pillars. Local sandstone also dominates the architecture. A long-standing tourist destination, the Bastei Bridge, was built for sightseers in 1826. It traverses lofty heights and gives visitors a closer look at the towering rock formations.

Across the Elbe Valley, the Koenigstein Fortress, used for many centuries as a state prison, crowns a hilltop. This is where alchemist Johann Böttger developed European porcelain, whilst being imprisoned in the fortress. Innovative Saxons in the nearby town of Glashütte like to say they are the "genuine Swiss" and make the watches to prove it.

Watch video 03:52

Saxon Switzerland National Park - Three Travel Tips

From Visit Germany
Editor: Sue Cox

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