Before anything, I would like to mention that Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park is, in no way, a part of Switzerland. It got its name in the 18th century when two Swiss artists called it Switzerland because it reminded them of the landscape back home in Switzerland.
Straddling between the Czech and German border, the Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park is divided between the two countries, with just a slightly bigger portion of it falling on the German side (where it’s known as Saxon) and the remaining in the Czech Republic (where it’s known as Bohemian).
Amazingly, the two countries work together to manage and protect the entire region, and you barely find a difference between the landscape and its sheer beauty, as you explore the region from either side.
Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park
During my Prague visit, in which, I spent one day in Prague, I spend the other day doing a group tour of Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park.
First Part Of The Tour: Czeching Out Bohemian National Park
With just a little more than an hour’s drive from Prague, and some interesting debate about modern Czech history and recent developments, between the two other guests and our tour guide Tony, we started our Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park tour.
As a part of our tour, our first stop was the hiking spot at ‘Tisá Rocks’ on the Bohemian side of the National Park.
It was crazy how in just an hour’s drive we drove from one of the most touristy places in Europe (the town of Prague) to a place that had no trace of life. But nothing prepared me for the grandeur of the sandstone mountains that arose out of the greens.
I stared at them a little longer to ensure they were not just figments of my imagination.
With such a distinct landscape, the Sandstone rocks at Tisá seemed no less than a different planet altogether. I couldn’t be more excited to explore more of our Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park tours.
As you enter the Bohemian National Park and buy your entry ticket to walk through Tisá Rocks, the two 2-km long walkway located on either side of the ticket booth, leads to a confusing, but ever-impressive rock labyrinth called the Tisá Rocks Educational path.
As recently as in the 1920s, visitors were not allowed to enter the rock area without guides, but today you can, though it’s still advised to visit the area with a guide, as the labyrinth of rocks can sometimes be very confusing.
To the left side, towards the west, the smaller path leads to the Small Tisá Rocks. To the right, and towards the east, the route goes through the Big Tisá Rocks (56 numbered rock formations) which form a wall up to 70 m in height, and in between the green shed is where you buy your entry ticket from.
It ideally takes no more than an hour to complete the walk across both sides of Tisá Rocks, unless you are walking too slowly and clicking too many pictures.
It’s unbelievable how so many giant rocks, with their hundreds (or possibly thousands) of years of slow erosion, have come to such an impressive formation. And yet, when as you walk through the place, or are reading this article on Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park right now, they’re still busy changing their formation, with every passing minute.
Next In The List: Saxon Switzerland Park
After finishing our walk through Tisá rocks, and having some traditional food with a glass of locally brewed Czech beer, in a village called Mezni Louka, we drove towards Germany.
It was crazy to see how, as soon as we entered German territory, leaving the quiet countryside in the Czech Republic, everything became much more organized and posh. Germans sure love to keep their houses well-built and intact and keep their neighbourhood clean.
If you are interested in reading about my take on German life, you do so in another travel blog. In that blog, I have written about my experience of spending 2 weeks in a small town in Germany as volunteering. Read my experience of staying with a local family and learning horse riding in Germany.
I could never guess that I will explore eastern Germany’s best-kept landscapes during my Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park tour. Though locally known as the Elbe mountains, it was hardly a mountain range in its more real and conscious form sense.
Sandstone structures came out, standing erect. And everywhere, among the dense forest, which sometimes resembled the fingers of a giant, and sometimes a tall row of statues, it was a sight to behold. The baffling landscape reminded me of the landscapes of Hampi in India (see my Hampi photos to compare).
I was immediately consumed with a desire to touch the Elbe and be engulfed by their isolation.
Spread out far below, I could see the Elbe River, villages dotting its banks, the flat-topped Lilienstein where a castle once stood, and in the far distance, the outline of Königstein Fortress. Every now and then a train would pass through, at a far distance, sometimes carrying a few dozen cars, and sometimes, passengers.
Despite the chill that had set in as clouds took over the sky, the wind gusts blowing through the viewpoint were occasionally warm.
Bastei Bridge: The Highlight Of The Trip
Bastei, which means “bastion”, refers to these jumbled, towering rocks that once formed a part of the defensive barrier for nearby Neurathen Castle. They were, by far, the best photography spot during our entire Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park trip.
Bastei rock formations have attracted travelers for more than 200 years now. And the prime attraction, within the mountain formations is Bastei Bridge — a sandstone bridge which connects the giant formations and gives fantastic views of the mountains around and the Elbe River below.
Probably the most-visited single site in the entire park, the stone bridge now links the “mainland” – with its hotel, restaurant, and gift shop selling glass art – to an outcropping of vertical rocks where the 18th-century Neurathen Castle once stood.
Though today the Bastei Bridge can just be the highlight in Saxon Switzerland Park, back in the 19th century, and right after its construction, it had its own charm, for it was one of the first few tourist destinations in entire Europe. And the history of Bastei Bridge goes back much longer.
The Rock Formation was first identified in 1592 but was publicly acclaimed in and after the 19th century, as more and more tourists visit the place and spread the word around. Initially, a wooden bridge was built here, which was later replaced by the current sandstone one. Steps were also built later in time to make it more easily accessible.
Though it is possible to tour Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park on your own, I chose to do a day tour, from Prague, due to limited time. I booked my tour with a company called Northern Hikes and can recommend them for a similar tour.
That’s all in this Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland Park blog. Since I have not covered many places in the Czech Republic, other than this and Prague, I am pulling this article from the internet on top places to visit in the Czech Republic. The article talks about the 39 best places across the Czech Republic.