Just outside the state capital Dresden sprawls a mini paradise known as Saxon Switzerland - a region dominated by the breathtaking rock landscape of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Majestic table-top mountains, mighty sandstone formations and the Elbe winding its way in between display nature in all its beauty. The variety of habitats, flora and fauna here is also particularly impressive, and has seen parts of Saxon Switzerland be protected as a national park since 1990.
Saxon Switzerland has always been a source of inspiration. The Elbe Sandstone Mountains left a lasting impression on author Hans Christian Andersen and composers Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner, and the Wolfsschlucht ravine at the Hockstein has even been eternalised in Weber's Wolfsschlucht scene in »Der Freischütz«. Every year, thousands of people flock to the open-air theatre in Rathen, where »Der Freischütz« is performed in a perfect setting amidst the towering rocks.
Painters like Caspar David Friedrich and Adrian Ludwig Richter were also enchanted by the wild ravines and bizarre rocky outcrops of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, and people can today follow in their footsteps and explore the region along the 112-km »Malerweg« track. Saxon Switzerland is criss-crossed by hiking trails to suit every level - comfortable forest roads and narrow paths, as well as steep ascents which lead up the rights at an almost 90° angle..
But it's not just artists or hikers who enjoy the unusual natural setting. Many climbers also seek both the sporting challenge on the cliffs, as well as relaxation amongst the scenic beauty. The tradition of free climbing - which involves conquering peaks without artificial climbing aids, but with safety equipment - goes back longer in Saxon Switzerland than anywhere else. This unique landscape has given rise to a climbing style which respects the sensitivity of the scenery and is carefully cultivated by Saxon climbers and all visitors.