The Elbe Sandstone Mountains: a fairy tale in stone

The Elbe Sandstone Mountains – comprising Saxon Switzerland and Bohemian Switzerland – rank among the most spectacular natural and cultural landscapes in Europe. The region straddles two national borders in the extreme south-east of Germany and the north of the Czech Republic and it is only a few kilometres distant from the Saxony state capital of Dresden.

The landscape is positively fascinating with its richness of different forms – with table mountains, plateaus, rocky reefs and rock pinnacles, ravines, forests and the Elbe Valley. A large part of the region, which totals some 710 square kilometres (275 square miles) with its abundant flora and fauna is protected on either side of the border as a National Park. Adjoining it to the south are the Bohemian Central Highlands clearly displaying their volcanic origin and characterised by striking conical mountains.

Together with the Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland National Park region, they make up a contiguous nature reserve covering 1800 square kilometres (695 square miles).

The area is particularly noted for the way it inspired writers and artists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Such people include :

Adrian Zingg (1734-1816) Swiss landscape artist, etcher and copperplate engraver; is regard as the artistic discoverer of Saxon Switzerland; subjects: numerous motifs in Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland

Anton Graff (1736-1813) Swiss portrait painter; frequently accompanied his friend Adrian Zingg Bernardo Bellotto ("Canaletto") (1722-1780) Italian veduta painter

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) Landscape painter and artist; many Elbe sandstone sketches and a large number of paintings of motifs from Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland

Theodor Körner (1791-1813) Poet during the Napoleonic Wars, a frequent visitor to the Saxon Switzerland, wrote "Reise nach Schandau" (Journey to Schandau)

Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803-1884) Landscape painter, copperplate engraver, etcher and illustrator, when he was 15, he drew and etched many views of Saxon Switzerland

Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869) Landscape painter and artist, personal physician to the King of Saxony, gynaecologist, physiologist, author, friend of Caspar David Friedrich; subjects: numerous Elbe sandstone sketches, some paintings

Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) Composer; his romantic opera "Der Freischütz" is associated above all with Saxon Switzerland by the "Wolfsschlucht" scene

Johan Christian Clausen Dahl (1788-1857) Norwegian landscape painter, friend of Caspar David Friedrich; subjects: numerous Elbe sandstone views

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) Danish writer, wrote the famous "Reise nach Dresden und in die Sächsische Switzerland" (Journey to Dresden and Saxon Switzerland)

William Turner (1775-1851) British painter, visited Saxon Switzerland in 1835 and draw a large number of sketches here

Mary Shelley (1797-1851) British novelist (including "Frankenstein")

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) In summer 1846, Wagner stayed in the Lochmühle in the Liebethaler Grund and gained his inspiration for the opera Lohengrin.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) Russian composer; wrote his string quartet No. 8 in c-minor op. 110 in Saxon Switzerland