We wrote about Dresden a couple of weeks ago. In this blog we will tell more about our days after this visit. And especially about the beautiful nature in Saxon Switzerland we explored on foot.
The sound of rain falling on our tent woke us up early in the morning. And while waking up I think back to yesterday. Thunder roared through the mountains that evening and I hope that the sound we hear is the sound of water dropping down from the trees and not rain. We are in bad luck. It really is rainfall and it would keep us company the rest of the morning. We wanted to go walking but these plans went down the drain together with the rain.
Due to the rain we decided to submerge ourselves into the mining history of this area. It is possible to visit a former iron ore mine and we thought this would be an excellent way to face the rainy morning. The name of the mine is Marie-Louise and it lies in the little village of Berggießhübel. The last ore has been mined years ago but it is still open for the public. The mine runs 400 meter horizontally into the mountain and you should bring a jacket of warm sweater. It is cold under the mountain. And also the hardhat you get when you enter the mine is not a luxury. I bumped my head several times because the mine it not higher than 1.60 meter at some points.
Did you know that the first miners worked in a corridor with dimensions of 1.50 by 0.50 meters. And did you know that it took 250 years to reach a depth of 40 meter. But after the Industrial Revolution the dept multiplied by 4 in just 100 years. The ore run out when they reached a depth of 160 meter. These are just some interesting facts they tell you when you go into the mine. It is fun to visit and the guided tour takes about an hour. They even have a small museum at the mine so there is something to see while you wait for the tour to start. A tour starts every hour on a daily basis in the summer.
After visiting the mine the weather cleared and we could finally start our walking trip. The sun even blessed us with its rays. We went to an area called Herculesstein. You really have to look for the Hercules stones but the route brings you to the sandstone formations the area is famous for. It is possible to climb up several viewing points for some really nice views. Two can only be reached by climbing up steep stairs. This may not be for the fainthearted but the view makes up for the climb. From Sachsenstein lookout point you can even see High Snow mountain (Děčinský Sněžník) in the Czech Republic. We stood on this mountain during our trip to Bohemian Switzerland in 2013. It was cool to see this mountain again.
The next day we took the car to visit a couple of spots the area is famous for. First we went to the Bastei, a large bridge of stone on top of a rock formation. In the middle ages there stood a small wooden castle which does not exist anymore. You can only see the stairs carved in the rocks and there is also an inscription chiseled in the sandstone. The place is a tourist attractions for over 200 years and this is the reason why they placed a wooden bridge in 1824. This bridge was later (1851) replaced by the sandstone bridge which still stands today. The views of the Elbe river below in the valley are magnificent.
We have seen castles before in the past but a castle of this size we have never seen before. It was the end of the day and this meant we did not have the time to really walk around and explore the whole site. But it is a place where you can wander for hours. We even managed to get lost in the forest and end up at the opposite site than where I wanted to go. The whole mountain is 9.5 hectare big and they placed the castle on top. I think this would be a hard place to conquer in the middle ages. Different authorities used the castle for prisons or military reasons but now it is a tourist attraction. You cannot miss the castle because you can see it from miles in every direction.
On the other site of the Elbe from Festung Königstein lies an impressive rock formation waiting for your visit. It is called Lilienstein. It is the highest point for miles and gives you a 360 degrees panorama of the surrounding nature. You can reach the top from the north or the south. Keep in mind that the south route is more difficult. It sometimes goes up almost 60 degrees and you need to use the steep stairs. But the rewards is worth it. As mentioned before you will get to see the best views of the area. On top of the plateau there is even a small restaurant where you can order a refreshing beer and enjoy the views.
Carolafelsen und Hohe Liebe
We actually wanted to walk three days ago but today is the day. We took the tram (Kirnitzschtalbahn) from our camping to Lichtenhainer Wasserfall. A waterfall at the end of the road from our camping. We saw it on the map and it caught our curiosity. Well, do not go there unless you have small kids! You need a magnifying glass to see it. From here we took off on foot and we started walking towards the rock formations which according to the map were abundant. It was a great walk where we saw one vista after the other. It was a Saturday so there were a lot of people walking in the national park. We decided to follow the small paths on the map and stayed off the main routes in the park. This way we saw even more narrow paths, steeps climbs and cracks in the mountain where we needed to crawl through. A couple of places on the route are worth mentioning. One is Carolafelsen, the highest point (459 meter) in the area and a view you want to share with others. The second place is Hohe Liebe (High Love). On top of this mountain the local Mountaineers build a shrine to honor local climbers who died somewhere in the world enjoying the sport they love, Mountaineering. This was an impressive sight to see and a beautiful way to honor the fallen.
Camping Ostrauer Mühle
One thing we still need to mention is camping Ostrauer Mühle where we stayed at. It is a quiet camping next to a small river. Every day walkers stay for one night only to continue their way on the Malerweg (a famous walking route in the area) the next day. You can rent a campfire for only €4,50. This is a great way to stay warm on chilly evenings and the owner provides you with enough wood and a bowl. The sanitary facilities are excellent and there is free toilet paper and soap. The use of the shower costs 0.50 eurocents for 3 minutes. You can also stay at the pension which the owners also manage. And of course there is a Biergarten.
Our last day in Saxon Switzerland was dedicated to relaxing. Especially the hammock took up most of our time. In the evening we went to a local pizza place because we decided that we deserved it. It was going to be a busy day tomorrow because we were going to Leipzig and Melt! festival. But we will talk about these trips later.