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Fort Konigstein (Festung Königstein).


Germany's largest fortress, Festung Königstein, towers over the Elbe Valley in the Saxon Switzerland area. It is a popular day trip by S-Bahn train from nearby Dresden.

Festung Königstein is the largest fortress in Germany. It is built on a flat hilltop from where it towers 240 m (750 ft) above the Elbe Valley in Saxon Switzerland near Dresden.

  • The fortress is a very popular day-trip destination from Dresden – close to 600,000 travelers visit Festung Königstein annually.

Festung Königstein – Germany’s Largest Fortress

Festung Königstein’s history goes back to at least the early thirteenth century but it only came to real importance after it became part of the March Meißen – the later Saxony – in 1459. Under Saxon control, it was expanded to a massive fortress that was never taken in battle.

The fortress is surrounded by a wall almost a mile long to enclose a protected area of 9.5 ha (24 acres) with space for parades and some 30 buildings. Particularly noteworthy are the oldest barracks in Germany (from 1589) and a still working well drilled 152.5 m (500 ft) through solid rock during the same period.

Through history, the fortress housed some notable persons and items. The Saxon royal court fled here during various wars and domestic upheavals including the Seven Years’ War and the revolutions of 1848/48. Prior to discovering the secrets of porcelain production, Johann Böttger was imprisoned here for failing to produce gold. Czar Peter I, Frederic the Great, and Napoleon slept here too.

During the Second World War, much of the art collection from the impressive museums in Dresden was hidden here for safekeeping. At that time, Festung Königstein served as prison for senior French officers – General Henri Giraud famously made the only successful escape ever from the fortress.

  • A century earlier, Sebastian Abratzky, a chimney sweep otherwise forgotten by history, became the only person ever to successfully scale the cliffs and walls to enter the fortress uninvited.

Visiting Festung Königstein Fortress in Saxony, Germany

Access to Festung Königstein is possible via a modern panorama elevator that replaced the original sixteenth-century hoist or via the original very steep path. The latter is by far the more interesting but can be very slippery when wet.

Once past the access gates, defense towers, and a long, slippery tunnel, visitors can enjoy marvelous panoramas of the Elbe Valley as well as the Saxon Switzerland landscape. Several of the buildings house permanent displays and temporary exhibitions of period furniture as well as museums of military and local history. Demonstrations and special guided tours are often held in summer to bring the history of the fortress alive.

Several restaurants, a beer garden, and kiosks offer food and drink at various points in the fortress. Particularly popular is the Erlebnisrestaurant In den Kasematten (Themed Restaurant in the Casemates) that stages shows and recreates the atmosphere of especially the Baroque era. Food is mostly local Saxon cuisine, i.e. pretty hearty and heavy on the pork and potatoes.

Opening Hours and Admission Tickets to Festung Königstein Fortress

Festung Königstein is open year round – the only day it is closed is December 24. Daily opening hours are pleasantly long too. The fortress opens daily at 9 am and closes at 8 pm from April to September, 6 pm in October, and 5 pm from November to March.

  • Individual exhibitions may have slightly shorter hours.

Admission to the fortress is €6 (USD9) for adults and €4 (USD6) for children over 6 and students. Combination tickets are available for families. Tickets give admission to the fortress, all exhibitions, and from April to October the use of the panorama elevator.

Transportation to Festung Königstein Fortress near Dresden

Festung Königstein is a 20-minute hike with some steep slopes from the center of the town Königstein. The route is well signposted from the station. An easier alternative is to the use the Festung Express – a vintage-look double-decker bus that runs from the train station to just below the fortress entrance.

The S-Bahn train S1 runs mostly twice per hour from Dresden (and Meißen) to Königstein. Königstein is 40 minutes from Dresden and 5 to ten minutes from popular Saxon Switzerland towns Stadt Wehlen and Kurort Rathen near the Bastei Bridge viewing point.

Festung Königstein
01824 Königstein
Tel.: +49 (0)35021 64-607 ,

Picture gallery of Festung Königstein

Pevnost Königstein - letecký pohled. Pevnost Königstein - pohled na Labské údolí. Pevnost Königstein - palebná síla. Pevnost Königstein - strážní věž. Pevnost Königstein - dobové exponáty. Pevnost Königstein - pokoj služebnictva.
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