Parkplatz Bastei, Bastei, 01847 Lohmen.
A17 exit 6 Pirna, B172a towards Pirna, exit Pirna-Pratzschwitz, via Lohmen towards Rathewald. Turn right to the Bastei car park. Follow the signs to the Bastei.
|Dimension:||VR=160 m, St=700.|
|Guided tours:||self guided, L=4 km, D=2 h. V=100.000/a |
|Address:||Tourismusverband Sächsische Schweiz e.V., Bahnhofstr. 21, 01796 Pirna, Tel: +49-3501-470147. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1886||trail and staircases built on the initiative of the Mountain Club for Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland.|
|Whitsun 2012||rockfall injures several visitors, geological investigation.|
|FEB-2013||hiking trail closed because an overhanging rock section threatens to break off and fall onto the trail.|
|12-SEP-2013||Hiking trail through the Schwedenlöcher reopened.|
The Schwedenlöcher is one of the many gorges in the Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland), but it is so spectacular that it regularly ends up on lists of Germany's most beautiful gorges. It lies between the Basteimassiv and the Amselgrund near Rathen. Crossing it also requires some physical fitness, because it climbs about 160 m in altitude on 700 steps.
The gorge was formed by a fissure in the sandstone. The rock fractured as a result of uplifting, and since the resulting forces were the same throughout the area, they all fractured in the same direction, which in geology is called the main fissure direction. In the Elbsandsteingebirge (Elbe Sandstone Mountains), this is the direction southwest to northeast. The movement of parts of the rock on a softer underlying layer can cause tectonic, i.e. mechanical, widening of the fissures. As a result, many sections of the gorge are very straight, but the rocks form a real labyrinth through which the path winds. The now open gorge is exposed to the weather and the rock is eroded by rainwater, frost, but also the roots of plants on the surface. This can also lead to rockfalls.
In contrast to alpine gorges, the path through the gorge requires little maintenance because no river flows through the gorge and no floods occur. The path is simply laid out at the bottom of the gorge. Nevertheless, the Schwedenlöcher had to be closed for a good six months in 2013 because an overhanging section of rock threatened to break off and fall onto the path. The rock was blasted and a new path was built over the debris for about 80 m with wooden climbing facilities.
The gorge was originally called Blanker Grund (Bare Ground) and was difficult to access. The reference to Sweden comes from the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), when Swedish soldiers destroyed the village of Rathewalde to the north in August 1639. The farmers of the area brought themselves and their belongings to safety in the wild and inaccessible gorge. This was probably successful, and so the ravine was soon called Schwedenlöcher. It served as a place of refuge several more times, in 1706 during the Great Northern War, in 1813 during the Wars of Liberation and in 1945 during the last days of the Second World War. The first paths were laid out in the 1780s for timber extraction, we know this because the dates 1782, 1784 and 1787 were carved into the rock. Finally, in 1886, on the initiative of the Mountain Club for Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland, it was equipped with a climbing facility and thus opened up for tourism.
Because of their location directly below the Bastei, the Schwedenlöcher are always associated with the Bastei. It is probably the most visited gorge in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, because many visitors to the Bastei also make a detour to the Schwedenlöcher. The trail connects the bastion with the Amselgrund, which is famous for the Amselsee lake, where you can go boating between sandstone walls. There are several variants of the hike through the Schwedenlöcher, but the most popular is probably the circular hike from the Bastei car park. You simply follow the signs and get to the upper entrance via the Gansweg. From here you have the option of making a detour to the Pavillonaussicht (pavilion lookout), which offers a view of the gorge from above. Now you go down the gorge over many steps, in two places you have to climb down a ladder. These are the places where there can be waiting times if there are a lot of visitors. In the Amselgrund, follow the path down the valley to the Amselsee (Blackbird Lake) and from there the trail up to the Bastei. Via the Tiedgeaussicht (Tiedge Outlook), you reach the Felsenburg Neurathen (rock castle of Neurathen), which is connected to the plateau by the Basteibrücke (Bastei Bridge). If you cross the Bastei Bridge, you are back at the starting point.
There are, of course, various starting points for a hike through the Schwedenlöcher. In addition to the Bastei car park, you can also start from Rathewalde or from Rathen on the other side of the Elbe in connection with a ferry trip. In general, however, you should avoid fair-weather days in summer, because the area is then very crowded, parking spaces are overcrowded and there are always waiting times in the gorge.