Germany, Saxon Switzerland – Pfaffenstein and Barbarine
Every trip starts with a journey. Saxon Switzerland (protected national park) is on great location. It takes two hours by car from Prague (a short break at Hrensko, a former border crossing point, included). From this rocky town follow the Elbe. The cross the bridge in Bad Schandau in the direction to Königstein (Royal Stone). What makes the town well-known is its bizzare stronghold built on a mesa in the 12th century. Formerly, the stronghold was a monastery, later a prison and today a point of interest. There is a traditional Christmas market, historical stalls, and nice decoration.
Pass through roundabout at the train station in Königsteinu. Drive out at the third exit and follow the road to Pfaffendorf. You can drive to the village or leave your car about 500 meters past the roundabout. It is possible to park your car for free without limits along the road. Drive up along the road towards Pfaffendorf, for now it is closed to cars. Then follow the red tourist markings.
Enter deep woods. You will stay there throughout the day. You will reach two caves. Often there are crowds of people usually wearing a headlight. They explore caves’ inside, climb through holes in rocks or observe bats.
You will pass by many rocks each of them being unique. One is more steep, other more rounded. Some large boulders are scattered around which seem to be buttressed up by some little guy. Sun rays shine through pine branches and tickle our faces. We are on Saxon Switzerland’s one of the most beautiful scenic routes called Malerweg. Now I understand what makes this road so beautiful – it inspires you to ponder about the glory of nature.
An hour and half later we reach a mesa rock standing on a vast meadow. The climb is upon us and it will take us around 30 minutes. You feel like you were at some rocky village. Pfaffenstein (434 meters) belongs to the Saxon Labske Piskovce . There, while climbing up, you need to squeeze through narrow paths or you have to walk the stairs. A restaurant is on the top with some seatings outside. The place is frequented by tourists. First, go left from the restaurant and find a secluded place where you can finally enjoy the view. The sun makes me fall asleep and I wake up fifteen minutes later.
When you finish your break, go right from the restaurant. There another rock is located called – Barbarine. A narrow 80-meter tall mesa looms before tourists and climbers. There are many children as well. The place is great for them because they can play on monkey bars or have a bird’s eye view of the nature or observe rock formations. Climbers got on the top of the rock opposite from us. I hear them opening a box and writing their names to a small notebook. They sit on that rugged summit silently just observing the nature like me.
The sun is setting and it is time to go. Following the green tourist trail we reached the car. When going from the rock, first you should cross meadow, then follow a pathway lined with hazelnut trees. You walk through Pfaffendorf village and then joining Königstein town. It takes 2.3 kilometers. This nice afternoon took us 5 hours of moderate paced walk, little breaks included. Dusk brought conclusion to another day but the memories stay.
GPS: (Barbarine) 50°53'48.5"N 14°04'53.9"E
Text: Šárka Vacková
Photo: Šárka Vacková, Wikimedia Commons: Fritz-Gerald Schröder
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