Saxon Switzerland & Goerlitz
Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History
Elbe Sandstone mountains
[ source: Wikipedia]
Saxon Switzerland which is on the border of the Czech Republic is one of the most unique landscapes in Germany and lies to the south of Dresden. It was named Saxon Switzerland as there was a Swiss painter Adrian Zingg who came at the end of the 19th Century. He worked in Dresden (Dresden vacation rentals | Dresden travel guide) and he came here and it reminded him of his native land in Switzerland and so he named it as Saxon Switzerland. The people in the administration didn't like this as they preferred it to be known as the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, which was the original name. However the people liked it and the name got stuck and the national park too is known as the Saxon Switzerland National Park. This was only the beginning of several places in Germany being named as Switzerland. There are as many as 120 Switzerlands within Germany although most of them are smaller areas. This place is an all time favourite amongst painters, hikers and lovers of nature. As you arrive here, there is a Panorama restaurant and the Berghotel Bastei. On a sunny day, you can sit out in the Biergarten and also get a view of the stunning scenery of the region Saxon Switzerland is one of the favourite holiday destinations of not only the people of Germany but all those who visit the region of Saxony as well as the Czech Republic. It is possible to do a day trip here or stay in Saxon Switzerland and do the neighbouring Ore Mountains as well.
The beauty of wild flower meadows and the Bastei (Bastion) rock formation provides stunning sceneries of deep ravines, bizarre rock towers and huge table rocks which have been created on the grounds of a former ocean. Truly, photographers and painters can spend days capturing various dimensions of natural beauty of this region. Located 30 kilometres from Dresden, Saxon Switzerland lies between the Ore Mountains and the Lusatia Mountains extending from the town of Pirna (Pirna vacation rentals | Pirna travel guide) and across the Czech Repubic border to the town of Decin in Bohemia. The German part of the mountains covers a region of 368 kilometres of stunning landscape and this region was created when the rivers flowing from the peaks of the Ore Mountains deposited sediments and seashells as the water flowed to the sea, almost 66 million years ago. The land was formed by erosion of water and wind which gives the distinctive features of sandstone blocks, valleys and vertical walls descending in several steps and broken up into rock towers. The Czech Republic side of the mountains is known as Bohemian Switzerland. The place has over 1100 climbing peaks and is a haven for international climbers from across the globe. The region originally had the Slavic settlers and is believed to have had a number of fortresses around to protect the trade routes. Even today you find the Konigstein Fortress and the Hohnstein (Hohnstein vacation rentals | Hohnstein travel guide) Castle. There are hardly any remains of the other castles and fortresses except the Bastei or the castle on the Falkenstein (Falkenstein vacation rentals | Falkenstein travel guide), which today is a climbing peak.
The famous Bastei Bridge too was built around the 1850s and later reconstructed out of wood due to increase in the number of tourists and we had the opportunity to cross the Bastei Bridge, the first building in Europe that was intended only as a tourist attraction. For nature lovers it is strongly recommended to have an overnight stay at one of the 3 wellness hotels in this region- Berghotel Bastei, the Park Hotel or the Lindenhof Hotel. There are a variety of wellness packages available in some of these properties. A good option would be to stay in Saxon Switzerland where a double room would cost 50 Euros per night for a 4 star accommodation and then do a day trip to Dresden which is one hour away and during peak seasons accommodation in Dresden can be 3 to 6 times more expensive than the tariffs you find in Saxon Switzerland. After a halt for about an hour at Saxon Switzerland we headed to the region of Upper Lusatia which lies to the east of Dresden, En route we halted for lunch at the Rammenau Castle. The building which is a museum today comprises of a treasure chest of late Baroque and early Classicist interior architecture and has various rooms of diverse styles including a Chinese Room, a Birds Room, a Bulgarian Room and a Hunting Room. The Mirror Room is mainly used for concerts and the International Linen Festival of Upper Lusatia takes place here every August. The Neo-classic interior design with its valuable porcelain, stylish salons and illusionist wall painting along with the grand staircase are some of the highlights of this wonderful baroque castle.
The easternmost city of Germany- Gorlitz which has a Silesian influence and is located on the Polish border and comprises of 35000 inhabitants. It is 1 hour 15 minutes from Dresden and can be reached either by road or by rail. If you arrive by train, you will be impressed by the art nouveau styled train station. Gorlitz is the centre of Lower Silesia's Upper Lusatia region and is one of the most interesting towns in Saxony. Upper Lusatia has changed hands very often it was Hungarian, Bohemian, Austrian, partly Prussian and most of the time Saxony. After World War II, the borders were changed, the eastern part of Upper Lusatia became Poland, the western part in German territory was part of East Germany and Gorlitz was part of it. Hence, you find a Silesian influence here in Gorlitz. Lots of people here are from Silesia, which is part of Poland. The history of the town has a strong influence of the Sorbs and till date they are able to preserve their culture and later in the day we were going for a Sorbian evening at the Bjesada restaurant in Bautzen (Bautzen vacation rentals | Bautzen travel guide). Gorlitz, is one of the few places where the synagogues survived the war and the city has a great influence of various religions. We did a short walking tour of Gorlitz although we didn't have time to visit the Holy Grave - a true to life replica of the grave of Jesus that you find in the holy city of Jerusalem. Very few towns possess an unspoilt old town as Gorlitz which boasts of over 4000 architectural monuments dating from different eras and due to the Via Regia- the city on the banks of the River Neisse was part of the old trading town between various regions of Bohemia and Silesia. Having escaped destruction during WWII, Gorlitz looks pretty much the same as it was in 1945, and hence is one of the most beautiful towns in Germany. From Renaissance to Art Nouveau, the town is a feast for lovers of architecture. Large parts of the old town have been restored to its former glory and after WWII, the town of Gorlitz has been divided with a large part of it in Germany and a smaller portion of it in Poland which is known as Zgorzelec.
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