A fairytale made of stone

The Elbe Sandstone Mountains Malerweg trail takes you through an ancient erosion landscape. What still stood as the bottom of the sea during the Cretaceous period, is now a richly moulded world of rocks, with mountains stretching up to 723 metres into the sky.

The Elbe Sandstone Mountains emerged from a vast lithic plate, which was ridged, eroded and, in part, worn away by the elements. During the Cretaceous period, approximately 90 million years ago, the area that now stands as Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland was flooded by a sea. Sand was deposited on the floor of the sea, which gradually solidified as a result of pressure and the influence of binding materials.


As the sea retreated, it left behind a layer of sandstone up to 600 metres in thickness. Water and wind, hot and cold acted upon the sandstone, resulting in the formation of the fantastic erosion landscape that astounds visitors from across the globe to this day. It is shaped by majestic table mountains and bizarre towers of rock, by canyon-shaped valleys, caves and deep, steeply descending ravines. These are joined by some basalt peaks, which were created as a result of volcanic activity.

Nowadays, the landscape is largely covered by forest. Clear streams and brooks ripple through the ravines that flow into the large Elbe Valley; whilst broad areas of level ground between the valleys and mountain peaks offer fantastic views. The most famous natural attractions include the Bastei region, the imposing Lilienstein, the Pfaffenstein with the legendary Barbarine, and the Schrammsteine. With over 1,200 kilometres of hiking trails of varying difficulty, the seemingly paradisical landscape offers walkers and nature-lovers an eventful time.