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Magnificent natural monuments going back 100 million years – the Saxon Switzerland National Park

Situated in the far eastern corner of Germany, south-east of Dresden, Saxon Switzerland National Park protects more than 36,000 hectares of the Elbe Sandstone Massif, sculpted over the course of millennia by the Elbe river – the perfect place for a journey of discovery all the way back to the Cretaceous period.

Located in Saxony, Germany's most easterly federal state, Saxon Switzerland National Park offers bizarre eroded rock formations dating from the Cretaceous period, a fascinating landscape that is the only one of its kind in central Europe. The park is characterised by sandstone cliffs, deeply carved valleys, table mountains and gorges – a truly remarkable landscape.

Visitors can catch a glimpse of rare animals such as eagle owls, otters and dormice. The presence of a number of different habitats in a relatively small area has given rise to a diverse flora of ferns, lichen and mosses. Rock climbing in the national park is an excellent way to see Saxon Switzerland in all its glory, but there are also more leisurely ways to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, such as a trip to the Bastei rocks, which provide stunning panoramic views across the Elbe. Other options for exploring this amazing landscape include hiring a rowing boat or taking a boat excursion to admire the scenery from the river.

Additional attractions of the national park region are the national park centre, Königstein Fortress, Felsenbühne Rathen outdoor theatre, the Flössersteig robber baron's castle, the historical postal milestone in the town of Pirna with its Canaletto associations and of course the magnificent city of Dresden.

Back in the national park you can take a walk led by a national park ranger or go on an exciting boat trip through the gorges. Recommended excursions include an enchanting tour on the river Elbe on one of the world's oldest paddle-steamers and a trip to Lichtenhain waterfall on the old-fashioned Kirnitzsch valley tram.

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