In Saxon Switzerland on the banks of the Elbe, there is a bastion. Numerous tourists enjoy the wonderful view over the Elbe valley and the Elbe Sandstone Highlands from here.
The history of the bastion
The bastion was part of the contravallation of the castle Neurathen. Very early on the castle and the rock it was built on became a tourist attraction and as early as 1798 it even got mentioned in tourist guidebooks. Food and service were offered to visitors for the first time in 1812.
Visitors came to the bastion via the Malerweg ( Painter’s Path) from Wehen and Lohmen, amongst them artists like Caspar David Friedrich who created the first paintings of the surroundings. 487 stairs led up the cliff starting in Rathen.
The first ever accommodation for visitors was built in 1826 and offered the option of making the trip an overnight stay. Around the same time, a bridge was built to connect the two cliffs “Steinschleuder” (slingshot) and “Neurather Felsentor” (Neurather Cliff Gate). It was made out of wood and bridged the cleft that is the “Mardertelle”. With the increasing numbers of visitors, the old wooden bridge was replaced with a sandstone bridge with 7 arches. This bridge is still in use today.
After 1945 the number of visitors increased and today some 1.5 million people come here every year. Especially on weekends and bank holidays, the bastion was and still is a popular destination for visitors. The viewing platform of the bastion had to be closed in May 2016. Weathering conditions had damaged the rocks severely and elaborate reconstruction- and stabilization works had to be undertaken for the visitor’s safety. The construction works were expected to be concluded in 2017.
Our trip to the bastion
We took the car all the way up to the bastion and parked in the bastion’s car park. Be patient when looking for a spot in the car park closest to the bastion; people almost constantly leave or enter the car park, there will be a spot available after a little wait.
Signs, tourist guides and many other visitors lead the way to the cliffs. Our visit happened before the reconstruction works began so we had unrestricted access to the viewing platform and enjoyed the marvellous view from there. Also the view over the stone bridge is fantastic.
The bridge is not particularly spacious and often very crowded. Still, it is quite an experience to be standing high above the clefts. Looking down into the abyss is breath-taking. Those who look closely might spot some mountaineers who, in good weather conditions, have the ideal set up for their adventures on the cliffs.
Across the bridge are the remains of the old castle Neurathen. (Admission fees have to be paid to get in.)
The bastion is open to the public all day every day
Those travelling by car have to pay for the car park. Visitors with cars will be charged 3€