The Bastai Bridge – the landmark of Saxon Switzerland

Bastai Bridge and Rocks – Germany’s Stone Wonders

Do you know what is the most visited tourist attraction in Saxon Switzerland? It’s the Bastai rock massif and bridge. Perhaps we should clarify: this natural-historical complex is located in Germany, and Saxon Switzerland is a national park in the east of the country, near the border with the Czech Republic.

Bastai Rocks and Bridge

The Bastai complex is located 24 kilometers from Dresden, between the small resorts of Rathen and Wellen.

Bastaj Rocks

Almost 200 meters high steep, narrow and high stone columns rise high above the River Elbe, which makes a sharp turn here. The Bastai Rocks resemble the fingers of an enormous hand, emerging to the surface of the Earth from its very depths. Bastai is a majestic and amazing in its beauty creation of nature, consisting of sandstone cliffs with numerous terraces, caves, arches, spires, narrow valleys. Islets of pine forest and solitary trees growing in the most inaccessible and unexpected places make this rock element amazingly alive.

Bastai Rocks

With its extraordinary landscapes Saxon Switzerland has long attracted travelers, and Bastay early enough began to turn into a mass tourism destination. At the very beginning of the XIX century here were built stores and equipped with a viewing platform, in 1824 between the rocks built a bridge, and in 1826 opened a restaurant.

Nowadays there are several viewing platforms on the territory of the natural-historical complex, but because of the huge flow of tourists, narrow paths and small size of the platforms, there are always long lines near them. Be prepared for the fact that you will have to quickly go to the site, take a photo of the views of Bastai and give way to the next tourist.

Among painters around the world, the Bastai Mountains in Germany were known for their “artists’ trail. The most famous painting painted here was Felsenpartie im Elbsandsteingebirge by Caspar David Friedrich. But the beauty of Saxon Switzerland delighted and inspired not only painters: Alexander Scriabin, who visited the place and was long impressed by what he saw, wrote his prelude Bastai.

Painting by K. D. Friedrich.

No less than among artists and photographers, these fantastic cliffs have always been popular with climbers. And to avoid destroying the not too durable sandstone with climbing equipment, a limited number of routes are now available for climbers here.

Bastai Bridge

For all tourists heading to Saxon Switzerland, the Bastai Bridge is a must-see. Not surprisingly, as this state-protected historical and architectural monument is surprisingly picturesque.

Tip: If you go to get acquainted with the main attractions of the national park with small children, you need to consider: there are a lot of stairs, steps and crossings. On this route will be very uncomfortable to move with a stroller, so it is better to leave it at the beginning of the route.

Originally, the bridge was wooden, but as the number of tourists was constantly increasing, it was necessary to replace it with a more durable structure. In 1851, it was replaced, using sandstone as a construction material.

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Bridge of Bastai

The modern Bastian bridge has seven spans spanning the deep Mardertelle Gorge. The entire structure is 40 meters high and 76.5 meters long. On the bridge there are several plaques that tell about the important historical events that took place here.

Tip: The best time to visit this region, which is well known and respected both in Germany and abroad, is before 9:30 a.m. in the morning. Later there is always a large influx of tourists, most of whom come by bus as part of tour groups.

Entrance to the bridge Bastai (Germany) is free, and for 2 euros from it you can go to another interesting attraction of the Saxon Switzerland – the old fortress Neuraten.

Neuraten Rock Fortress

Neuraten Rock Fortress

The area, on which once was a powerful fortification of the XIII century, fenced paling of dark beams, and from the fortress itself little has remained. By the way, “bastai” is translated as “bastion,” and it is from this word that the local Bastai cliffs are called.

A walk through the former fortification can be compared to a walk through a mountain labyrinth: the stairs loop left and right, going up and down. There are remnants of wooden ceilings, rooms carved in the rock, a catapult with stone cannonballs. In the lower courtyard there is a stone cistern into which rainwater was collected – it was the only possible way to get drinking water here.

It is from here that one has perhaps the best view of the bridge, the cliffs, and the Bastai Gorge in Germany. You can even see the Felsenbühne outdoor theater, spread out among the forest, at the foot of the cliffs. From May to September it stages operas and music festivals.

How to get there from Dresden

As already mentioned, the historic nature complex is located just 24 kilometers from Dresden, and from this city it is most convenient to get to this place of interest in Germany. There are several options how to get from Dresden to the bridge and cliffs Bastai, one of the most advantageous – to use the railroad. You have to go to the nearest spa town Rathen, to the station “Lower Rathen” – this is the direction of Schona. From the main station Hauptbahnhof (often abbreviated as Hbf) there is a train S1.

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Hauptbahnhof station

Hauptbahnhof station

Train leaves every half hour, the trip takes less than an hour. One way ticket costs 14 euros. Buy a ticket at the ticket office at the station or online on the website of Deutsche Bahn On this website you can find out all information about German Railways: train schedules, ticket prices.

Tip: You can significantly save if you buy a family day ticket: for 2 adults and 4 children it costs 19 euros. This ticket allows for one day to make an unlimited number of trips on public transport and suburban trains.

Lower Rathen, where the train arrives, is located on the left bank of the Elbe, and the rocks and the bridge, for which tourists come here – in the Upper Rathen on the right bank. There is only one way to get to the bridge Bastej from the railway station from Lower Rathen: take a ferry across the Elbe. The width of the river at this point is about 30 meters, the crossing time takes about 5 minutes. The ticket costs 1.2 euros one way or 2 euros round trip and you can buy it at the ticket office or while boarding the ferry.

Ferry crossing

In Upper Rathen, literally 100 meters from the pier, begins the hike to the cliffs of Bastai in Germany. The road takes about an hour, it is impossible to get lost, as there are signs along the way.

Tip! Before you go any further, please note that there are toilets near the pier (50 cents). There are no toilets along the way, but only at the bridge.

Although the trail goes through the mountain forest, it is comfortable enough: quite suitable for people who are not physically prepared. The angle of ascent, the width of the road, the character of the terrain change all the time: you have to walk along a wide gentle road, then literally squeeze between the steep cliffs.

Just before the bridge there is a narrow staircase leading to one of the viewing platforms. It is from her you can best appreciate the beauty of the famous Bastian building and the enormity of the work done by nature, creating amazing stone “fingers”.

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From Dresden to Batsai by cab

Cab in Dresden

From Dresden to the Bastai natural-historical complex in Saxon Switzerland, you can also take a cab. The most popular service recommended by experienced tourists is KiwiTaxi.

A cab from Dresden will take 30 to 40 minutes, and the cost of the trip, depending on the particular place of departure, is 95 – 120 euros.

As a rule, car tourists arrive immediately at the parking lot at the Bastian bridge. From the parking lot to the attractions need to walk another 10 minutes – this way is not difficult and very scenic. If you want, you can take a ride in a beautiful horse-drawn carriage.

Instead of a conclusion

Saxon Switzerland is not only picturesque cliffs and the Bastai Bridge. This park in Germany is known for another attraction – the ancient fortress Konigstein, standing on the mountain of the same name. This fortification complex has more than 50 different structures, including the second deepest well in Europe (152.5 m). In the arsenal there is a museum devoted to the military history of Germany, and its most important exhibit is the first submarine in the country.

Prices on the page are for July 2019.

A hike to the Bastai Bridge:

Author: Irina Kovaleva

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The one-way fare is 14 euros. It turns out round trip is 28 euros “Family day ticket unlimited for 1 day: for 2 adults – 19 euros”. Can you tell me its name? Is it possible to buy it for one person?

Bastai Bridge

Bridge of Bastai

Photo: Igor Levitskiy /

The Bastei Bridge (Bastei) is an impressive structure with 200 years of history, surrounded by rock massifs in Germany. This national park is called the Saxon Switzerland: it is located on the right bank of the Elbe near the border with the Czech Republic.

The easiest way to get to the bridge from Dresden – you have to travel about 40 km by car. The place is definitely worth a visit: you can admire the rocks, walk across the breathtaking bridge, look around the park and surroundings.

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History of the origin of the Bastei Bridge

The Basteibrücke (Bastebrücke) was originally a wooden bridge. It was built in 1824 between the cliffs of Neurathener Felsentor and Steinschleuder. Later, in 1851, the structure was replaced by a stone one.

Origin of the name

Bastai is the name not only of the bridge itself, but also of the rocks in the National Park.

It is believed that these rock massifs were part of the defensive complex of the castle Neurathen (Felsenburg Neurathen), which existed in the 13th-15th centuries.

However, the exact name of the natural landscape at that time is unknown: Bastai is first mentioned in 1592. By the way, this word means bastion in translation.

Popular tourist spot

The park has become very famous since 1800. Artists came here to walk the picturesque trail Malerweg (Malerweg), to admire the scenic views and write amazing works.

The most famous painting is “Rocky Gorge” (“Felsenschlucht”) by the artist Caspar David Friedrich.

After the painters many travelers began to go here. The park became so popular that merchants opened stores here in 1812, and in 1826 they even founded a restaurant.

Composer Alexander Scriabin’s prelude “Bastai” is dedicated to this very place. He visited Dresden and the park during his tour of Germany.

The bridge is currently under state protection. This is a unique historical and architectural monument.

The architecture of the Bastai Bridge

When looking at the structure, one wonders how the wide arches on relatively thin legs between the sandstone cliffs hold up. And given that the cliffs are about 194 meters above the river.

Bridge of Bastai

Photo: René /

The structure is about 76 meters long and has seven spans. Its height is about 40 meters.

At the top is an observation deck: just imagine what a picturesque view opens up over the river, mountains, and surroundings!

Walking on the bridge, you can notice the stone plaques – they have the meaning of the memorial. Dedicated to the discovery and study of Bastai, in particular:

  • mentions of it in travel books as early as the 18th century;
  • descriptions of the park by Carl Heinrich Nicolai and Wilhelm Lebrecht Götzinger;
  • the first photographs taken on the bridge by Hermann Krone in 1853.

The gorge over which the bridge stretches is called Mardertelle. The rock pillars literally grow out of the gorge and frame the bridge on both sides.

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To walk comfortably in the park, wear comfortable shoes: the paths can be steep and narrow in some places.

Those who want to admire the natural scenery for several days can book a hotel room. The most famous is the Berghotel Bastei 4* with its magnificent panoramic restaurant.

What to see nearby

Nearby is the stone castle Neuraten, built in the 13th century. It is considered the largest in the National Park.

Today there is little left of it – mostly ruins. But you can see the openings, ceilings, cisterns, passages and other architectural elements. You can explore the area by going down and up small stairs.

Another nearby attraction is Ferdinandstein. It is a stone tower, which offers a stunning view of the bridge.

Rathen also has an outdoor theater (Felsenbühne) located at the foot of the cliffs. In the summertime, concerts, festivals, and other events are held on its stage.

If you want to go even farther, you can see the fortress Königstein. It rises on the left bank of the Elbe at a height of about 240 meters. It can be reached by train – the Königstein railway station is nearby.

The fortress is a major defensive structure and includes many buildings, the oldest of which is more than 400 years old.

How to get to Bastai Bridge

The bridge is not far from the spa town of Rathen. It is easiest to get to it from Dresden by train.

By train

Take the S1 towards Schöna from Dresden Hauptbahnhof. It takes about half an hour to get off at the station Kurort Rathen on the left bank of the River Elbe.

The ferry station Kurort Rathen Fährstelle Oberrathen is not far from the railway station. Every 20 minutes or so there is a ferry that takes you to the right bank of the river, to the Lower Rathen (Kurort Rathen Fährstelle Niederrathen).

From the ferry station, it is about half an hour uphill to the Bastai Bridge, following the signs.

By car

Another option is to rent a car and drive yourself to the bridge. This is probably the most comfortable option, because you do not have to transfer from one transport to another.

The direct route will take about 40-50 minutes. You will spend about 5-7 euros for gasoline. By car you have to go to the parking lot, from which it is a short walk up to the bridge.

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