Discovering and walking

Saxon Switzerland is a mountainous climbing area and national park near Dresden in Saxony. It continues as the Bohemian Switzerland in the Czech Republic. Saxon Switzerland alone has some 1,000 climbing peaks, as well as several hollows. The area is popular with Dresden locals and international climbers.

The administrative district for the area is Sächsische Schweiz. The fortress of Königstein is a well-known landmark. Saxon Switzerland was originally settled by Slavs and only fell to the Saxon Margraves of Meißen in the 15th century.

Saxon Switzerland area has a number of fortresses built to protect trade routes; remaining fortresses include Festung Königstein and Castle Hohnstein. Hardly anything is left of other castles and fortresses like the Small Bastei or the castle on the Falkenstein, today a climbing peak. Some fortresses were also used as nests for medieval raids.

The area became popular with tourists during the 19th century. Romantic artists were inspired by the beauty of wilderness, like the painter Ludwig Richter or the composer Carl Maria von Weber, who set his famous opera Der Freischütz with its Wolfsschlucht ("wolf's gorge") scene near the city of Rathen.

Saxon Switzerland is characterized by its sandstone rocks which draw many rock climbers. There exist ca. 14000 routes on over 1000 rock towers. At the beginning of the 20th century the 'Saxon Rules' for rock climbing were established. This is considered as one of the origins of free climbing. Ropes and bolts may only be used for protection but never as a means for climbing. The use of chalk and common means of protection such as nuts and friends is also not permitted; instead knotted nylon slings are used. With few exceptions climbing is only practised and allowed at freestanding towers.

As the summits often stand very close to each other, jumping from one rock to another is also somewhat popular and even has its own grades of difficulty.