SAXON SWITZERLAND | Hike to Europes largest natural sandstone arch
Situated in Bohemian Switzerland on the hillside of the German mountain Großer Winterberg is the Pravčická brána (germ. = Prebischtor), which is Europes largest natural sandstone bridge. Due to the prohibition to cross the inner circle of the Saxon Switzerland National Park you have to start the hike in the Czech village of Hřensko. The conjunction of hiking to Pravčická brána and making a boat tour on Kamenice Flume is very popular in Czech Republic as well as in Germany, so we advise not to be a sleepyhead.
|region||:||Bohemian Switzerland||duration||:||4 hours|
|highlights||:||Pravčická brána - boat tour on Kamenice||difficulty||:||easy|
detailed description | PRAVČICKÁ BRÁNA
Hřensko - Pravčická brána
You should start quite early in the morning due to the popularity of this hike in Bohemian Switzerland. Starting point is the upper parking of the border town Hřensko, wherefrom you follow the red sign along the street and sometime (it depends on where you've parked) you turn left on a wooden path to Pravčická brána. Through deep forest and across many bridges and steams the trail gains height, and after a while you catch sight of the imposing arch: 21 metres high and 27 metres wide, it is the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe.
As the Pravčická brána is in private hands, you have to pay admission of about three Euro for adults. Now you should discover the entire area, especially the small path in front of the submontane and the path to the Wenzelsturm, a well-known photo location.
You might wonder if it is possible to go to the back of the arch or on its very top, but both varieties are forbidden: the area behind the Pravčická brána is inner area of the national park and very close to the German-Czech border; the top is battered by erosion caused by a mass of tourists in former times. Only insider know how to get there, so do not try!
Pravčická brána - Mezní Louka - Mezná
From Pravčická brána your hike leads across the wonderful Gabrielina cesta (red sign) to Mezní Louka. Ages ago there was one of the most important Bohemian trading routes to Germany branching off here, whose name was Großer Zschand. In 1898 the Kirnitzschtal Tramway was supposed to go through the Großer Zschand to connect Bad Schandau, the Kirnitzschtal, Mezní Louka and Hřensko in a circular track network as steam railway.
When reaching Mezní Louka you have to leave the red trail and change to the green one, which leads alongside a village street and past a war memorial to Mezná. We thoroughly recommend making a rest at Penzion Na Vyhlídce, which is easily recognizable by its painted front. You should try the typical Bohemian goulash with cabbage and dumplings plus a reputable Czech beer (e.g. Staropramen). The terrace offers an extensive view of Bohemian Switzerland.
Mezná - Kamenice Flume - Hřensko
After lunch you have to take the yellow path below the terrace, which descends very quickly via stairs into the flume of the river Kamenice. When approaching the flume you cross a huge bridge and turn right afterwards to get to the boat station. There's no other way then making an amusing 15-minutes-boat-tour to the other bank, due to the fact that the flume is very narrow.
After finishing the boat tour, you wander the last kilometre along the Kamenice back to Hřensko, where the river issues into the Elbe River. When reaching the main street you turn right and look for your parking.
route in note form | PRAVČICKÁ BRÁNA
1 - Hřensko (parking) on along the street, then turn left on Gabrielina cesta ()
2 - enter private area of Pravčická brána and discover its whole surrounding
3 - further on Gabrielina cesta () to Mezní Louka
4 - in Mezní Louka in direction of the parking and further on the street tagged to Mezná
5 - turn left at Penzion Na Vyhlídce and descend via stairs () to Kamenice Flume
6 - cross the bridge and turn right to boat station () and make a boat tour
7 - leave the flume and go to Hřensko (), where you turn right to get to your parking ()
journey | PRAVČICKÁ BRÁNA
by bus and rail
|station:||Hřensko ferry station|
|lines:||S-Bahn 1 (Meißen - Dresden - Bad Schandau - Schöna) to Schöna and afterwards ferry to Hřensko|
|or longitudinal ferry from Bad Schandau (Bad Schandau - Krippen - Schmilka - Hřensko)|
|or private hiking bus (Königstein - Bad Schandau - Hřensko - Mezna)|
First you follow route B172 to Bad Schandau and then further on in direction Hřensko / Děčín. The German-Czech border checkpoint is closed, but you should better have your ID at hand. There is a "Duty Free Shop" and several exchanges right behind the border, but it's possible to pay in Euro all over the frontier.