Tourist’s guide to Bastei Bridge and Rocks, stone wonders of Germany

Do you know what is the most visited tourist attraction in Saxony Switzerland? This is a rock massif and the Bastei Bridge. Perhaps it is worth clarifying: this natural-historical complex is located in Germany, and Saxon Switzerland is a national park in the east of the country, near the border with the Czech Republic.

Rocks and Bastei Bridge

The Bastei complex is located 24 kilometers from Dresden, between the small resorts Rathen and Velen.

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Rocks Bastei

Right above the Elba River, which makes a sharp turn at this height, almost 200 meters high, sheer, narrow and tall stone pillars rise. The Bastei Rocks resemble the fingers of a huge hand that emerges from the very bowels of the earth to the surface of the Earth. Bastei is a magnificent and amazingly beautiful creation of nature, consisting of sandstone rocks with numerous terraces, caves, arches, spiers, narrow valleys. The islands of the pine forest and solitary trees growing in the most inaccessible and unexpected places make this stone element surprisingly lively.

Rocks Bastei

With its extraordinary landscapes, Saxon Switzerland has long attracted travelers, and Bastei early enough began to turn into an object of mass tourism. At the very beginning of the 19th century, shops were built here and a viewing platform was built, in 1824 a bridge was built between the rocks, and in 1826 a restaurant was opened.

Important! Now there are several observation platforms on the territory of the natural-historical complex, but because of the huge flow of tourists, narrow paths and the small size of the platforms themselves, there are always long lines. Be prepared for the fact that you have to quickly go to the site, take a photo of the Bastei and give way to the next tourist.

Among the painters all over the world, the Bastai Mountains in Germany were known for their “artists’ path”. The most famous painting painted here was Caspar David Friedrich’s Felsenpartie im Elbsandsteingebirge. But the beauty of Saxon Switzerland delighted and inspired not only painters: Alexander Skryabin, who was here, who was impressed by what he saw for a long time, wrote the prelude “Bastei”.

"Felsenpartie im Elbsandsteingebirge"
Painting by K. D. Friedrich

No less than among artists and photographers, these fantastic cliffs have always been popular with climbers. And in order not to destroy with sandstone equipment not too strong sandstone, now for climbers there is a limited number of routes.

Bastei Bridge

For all tourists traveling to Saxon Switzerland, the Bastei Bridge is a must-see destination. Not surprising, because this state-protected monument of history and architecture is amazingly picturesque.

Advice! If you get acquainted with the main attractions of the national park, you go with young children, you need to consider: there are many stairs, steps, passages. On such a route it will be very inconvenient to move with a stroller, so it is better to leave it at the beginning of the route.

Initially, the bridge was wooden, but as the number of visiting tourists was constantly increasing, there was a need to replace it with a more solid structure. In 1851 it was changed using sandstone as a building material.

Bastei Bridge

The modern Bastai bridge has 7 spans that span the deep Mardertelle Gorge. The whole structure reaches a height of 40 meters and a length of 76.5 meters. Several memorial stone tablets are attached to the bridge, telling about important historical events taking place here.

Advice! Going to inspect this area, which has been heard both in Germany and abroad, is best in the early morning, before 9:30. Later, there is always a large influx of tourists, most of whom come by bus as part of excursion groups.

Entrance to the Bastei bridge (Germany) is free, and for 2 euros you can go from it to another interesting attraction of Saxony Switzerland – the ancient Neuraten fortress.

Rock fortress Neuraten

Rock fortress Neuraten

The territory on which the powerful fortification of the 13th century was once located is fenced with a dark log picket fence, and little remains of the fortress itself. By the way, “bastei” is translated as “bastion”, and it is from this word that the name of the local rocks of Bastei comes from.

A walk through the territory of the former fortification can be compared to walking along a mountain maze: the stairs loop to the right and left, go up and down. Here, the remains of wooden floors, carved into the rock premises, a catapult with stone cores. In the lower courtyard there is a stone cistern to which rain water was collected – this was the only possible way to get drinking water here.

It is from here that almost the best view of the bridge, rocks, Bastei Gorge in Germany opens. You can even see the open theater Felsenbühne, spread out among the forest, at the very foot of the cliffs. From May to September, operas are staged on its stage, and music festivals are held.

How to get from Dresden

As already mentioned, the natural-historical complex is located just 24 km from Dresden, and it is from this city that it is most convenient to get to this attraction of Germany. There are several options for how to get from Dresden to the bridge and cliffs of Bastei, one of the most profitable is to use the railway. You need to go to the nearest resort town of Rathen, to the station “Lower Rathen” – this is the direction of Schona. From the Hauptbahnhof main station (the abbreviation Hbf is often found), the S1 electric train runs there.

Hauptbahnhof Station
Hauptbahnhof Station

The train leaves every half an hour, and the journey takes less than an hour. One way travel costs 14 euros. You can buy a ticket at the box office at the station or online at the Deutsche Bahn website www.bahn.de. On the same site you can find out any information about the German Railways: train schedules, ticket prices.

Advice! You can save a lot if you buy a family day ticket: for 2 adults and 4 children it costs 19 euros. Such a ticket allows you to make an unlimited number of trips in public transport and in suburban trains in one day.

Ferry crossing

Lower Rathen, where the train arrives, is located on the left bank of the Elbe, and the rocks and the bridge for which tourists go here are in the Upper Rathen on the right bank. There is only one option how to get to the Bastei bridge from the railway station from Lower Rathen: take a ferry ride across the Elbe. The width of the river at this place is about 30 meters, the crossing time takes about 5 minutes. A ticket costs 1.2 euros one way or 2 euros both ways, and you can buy it at the box office or during boarding.

Ferry crossing
Rise from the ferry

In Upper Rathen, just 100 meters from the marina, a trek to the Bastei rocks in Germany begins. The road takes about an hour, it is impossible to get lost, because there are signs on the way.

Advice! Before you go on a further journey, please note: there is a toilet near the pier (paid, 50 cents). Further along the way there are no toilets, they will only be at the bridge itself.

Although the path passes through a mountain forest, it is quite convenient: it is quite suitable for people who are completely unprepared physically. The elevation angle, the width of the road, the nature of the terrain change all the time: you have to go along a wide flat road, then literally squeeze between steep cliffs.

Almost right before the bridge there will be a narrow ladder leading to one of the observation platforms. It is from her that it is possible to best appreciate the beauty of the famous Bastai structure and all the grandeur of the work that nature has done, creating amazing stone “fingers”.

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From Dresden to Batsai by taxi

Taxi in Dresden

You can also take a taxi from Dresden to the Bastei Natural History Complex in Saxony Switzerland. The most popular service recommended for experienced tourists is KiwiTaxi.

Taxis from Dresden will take about 30 – 40 minutes, and the cost of the trip, depending on the specific departure place, is 95 – 120 euros.

As a rule, car tourists immediately come to the parking lot near the Bastai bridge. From the parking lot to the very attraction you need to go another 10 minutes – this path is not at all difficult and very picturesque. But, if you want, you can ride on a beautiful horse-drawn cart.

Instead of a conclusion

Saxon Switzerland is not only picturesque cliffs and the Bastei bridge. This German park is known for another attraction – the ancient Koenigstein fortress, standing on the mountain of the same name. This fortification complex has more than 50 different structures, including the second deepest well in Europe (152.5 m). The museum dedicated to the military history of Germany operates in the arsenal, and its most significant exhibit is the country’s first submarine.

Prices on the page are for July 2019.

Walking to the Bastei Bridge:



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