The route starts in the little Saxon spa town of Kurort Rathen, which is situated on both banks of the River Elbe. You can park at Oberrathen on the left bank and then take the ferry to the other side.
Take the road from the ferry wharf past some little timbered houses and turn off when you get to the little square with its historical stone signpost. Walk up the little street to Zelený potok stream (go past Kosí jezero and continue alongside the stream through the valley until you get to the next crossroads. Take a left across the little bridge and in front of you you’ll see the some 700 steps of Švédské díry (Schwedenlöcher, or Swedish Holes). These are not named after the Swedes, but after the local villages who took refuge from the Swedes here during the Thirty Years War. Climb up the steps through the rocks, as the path gets narrower and narrower, until you come to a wild, rugged gorge. This becomes a dead end after a while and you have to go through the little Švédská branka (Swedish Gate).
A moment later, turn sharp right and you’ll find yourself in one of the Swedish Holes. Every now and then you’ll have to squeeze through a gap as you climb up the stairs to come out onto rest area, which is covered over. From there, go right onto a paved path, and then after a while turn off following the Aussichtpunkt signpost to the lookout plateau, from which there is a beautiful view of the surrounding rocks and table mountains on the horizon. Go back onto the paved path and at the next crossroads keep left, towards Bastei. Follow the forest path to the hotel, and then head to the main attraction of this route - Basteibrűcke (Bastei Bridge). The bridge, which links the rock towers, was built in 1851, is 76 metres long, and spans Kuní jáma (Mardeltelle, or Marten Pit). Cross the bridge, with rock towers all around you, and after the bridge you can buy tickets to the Neurathen rock castle.
Take the steps down from the castle and you’ll find yourself on the part of the route along the Painter’s Trail (Malerweg), which links places in Saxon Switzerland that were most frequented by the Romantic painters – such as Bastei himself. Then return through the valley of Zelený potok stream back to the ferry in Rathen.
The painters that gave the name to Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland
During the second half of the 18th century two Swiss painters, Adrian Zingg (1744-1816) and Anton Graff (1736-1813), friends who had studied together at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden, began to take trips along the Elbe to the countryside around Bastei and Pravčická brána. There were still no tourists around back in those days, and the landscape was still very wild, reminding them both of their native Switzerland. And so they started to use the name Saxon Switzerland to refer to the places they went back to and painted more and more often. The border region on the Bohemian side later began to be known as Bohemian Switzerland.
Through their work, both painters laid the foundations for the vedutes that later became so popular here, and did a lot to promote the natural beauty of this region.
The project Tourism without Borders is implemented through the Objective 3 Programme to promote cross-border cooperation between the Czech Republic and the Free State of Saxony 2007 - 2013 period..
- On foot
- For families with children
- For beginner walkers
- Cross-border route
- With attractions
- Routes with a story
- With a story from the past
- In search of viewpoints