Saxon Switzerland is the name for the German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in the state of Saxony. The landscape is known for its bizarre rock formations and lies southeast of Dresden on either side of the Elbe. To the east, Saxon Switzerland transitions into the Lusatian Highlands and, to the west, the Ore Mountains. The adjacent, Czech, part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains is known as Bohemian Switzerland.
The highest mountain in Saxon Switzerland is the Großer Zschirnstein at 562 m above sea level.
A large number of castles were built in Saxon Switzerland to protect the trade routes. Two that have survived to the present day are Königstein Fortress and Hohnstein Castle. Of the other sites only a few ruins are left, for example, the Kleiner Bastei or the castle on the Falkenstein (today a climbing peak).
Several of the castles were used by medieval robber knights.
Originally this region had been settled by Slavs and first came under Saxon rule in the 15th century, since when its borders have changed little.
Im September 1990 - even before German reunification – the Saxon Switzerland National Park was created to protect the unique natural character of the mountains. This park, 93 km² in area, covers two regions physically separated from one another: the first around Rathen, the Bastei and Polenz valley, Brand and the Uttewalder Grund; the second covering the Saxon Switzerland hinterland (Hintere Sächsische Schweiz) between the Elbe and the border with the Czech Republic with the Schrammsteine, Großer Winterberg, Großer Zschand and Kirnitzsch valley.
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