Useful Information

Sächsische Schweiz - Kleinsteinhöhle. Aus: Das kleine Universum für Erd-, Länder- und Völkerkunde. Stahlstich, 1841. Public Domain.
Die Kleinsteinhöhle in der Sächsischen Schweiz, ca. 1800. Adrian Ludwig Zingg (1734–1816). Public Domain.
Location: Kleinstein, S185 between Schandau and Saupsdorf.
(50.92898662382264, 14.308657025104203)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologysandstone cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=12 m, W=7 m, H=10 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Dietmar Heinicke Hrsg. (2001): Kletterführer Sächsische Schweiz, Band Großer Zschand, Wildensteiner Gebiet, Hinterhermsdorfer Gebiet. Berg- & Naturverlag Peter Rölke, Dresden 2001, ISBN 3-934514-04-9.
Address: Kleinsteinhöhle, Schandauer Str., 01855 Sebnitz
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.


1586 The year in the rock is the second oldest rock inscription in Saxon Switzerland.
~1800 Copper engraving by Adrian Ludwig Zingg (*1734-✝1816) from Switzerland.
~1800 Copper engraving by C. A. Günther.
1820/22 Etch by Ludwig Richter (*1803-✝1884).
1841 Steel engraving in the book Das kleine Universum für Erd-, Länder- und Völkerkunde.


Kleinsteinhöhle, Elbsandsteingebirge, Deutschland. Public Domain.
Kleinsteinhöhle, Elbsandsteingebirge, Deutschland. Public Domain.

The Kleinsteinhöhle is located on the south side of the Kleinstein (378 m asl), above the confluence of the Goldbach and the Saupsdorfer Bach. The through cave forms an impressive natural bridge, often referred to as a Felsentor (rock gate). With a length of 12 m and a width of 10 m, it has a 10 m high pointed arch. This makes it the third largest natural bridge in the Elbe Sandstone region after Prebischtor and Kuhstall, and the second largest in Saxon Switzerland. The ground is flat and, as usual, covered with fine sand. To the left of the entrance to the rock gate, the year 1586 has been carved into the rock face. If this was indeed the year in which it was carved, it is the second oldest rock inscription in Saxon Switzerland.

From the valley, you can reach the cave on a hiking trail and then via a staircase. The hikers' car park is directly below the rock face, but the hiking trail leads under the rock face and to the back. A direct ascent exists only for climbers. There are two viewpoints, one in front of the valley-side entrance and one above the cave. The Kleinsteinhöhle is located in the Kleinsteinwand, a rather large vertical wall which is a well-known climbing area. It is one of the most important climbing rocks in the rear of Saxon Switzerland. Over 90 climbing routes with difficulties up to the 10th degree in the Saxon difficulty scale have been described.

As early as 1800, Adrian Ludwig Zingg (*1734-✝1816) from Switzerland depicted the cave in an engraving. The painter Ludwig Richter was fascinated by the cave and captured it in an etching in 1820. With the publication of a steel engraving in the book Das kleine Universum für Erd-, Länder- und Völkerkunde in 1841, a large number of readers became acquainted with the cave. Many other artists of the 19th century captured it in etchings or copper engravings. It soon became a popular destination for excursions.

It is quite striking that the Kleinstein Cave is depicted as a free-standing natural bridge in all historical pictures. You can see the rock wall around the rear cave entrance and through the cave and the front cave entrance out into the valley. This is not possible in reality, for one thing the cave is slightly curved, and for another there is a massive rock wall at the rear entrance after a rather narrow gap. The artists, in their creativity, have ignored its existence. And they did so quite unanimously, as if they had agreed on it one evening during a merry get-together in a nearby pub. In any case, you will never see a photo with this view, because it does not exist, even if the cave itself is easily recognisable.

photography photography
Kleinsteinhöhle, Elbsandsteingebirge, Deutschland. Radierung 1820/22 von Ludwig Richter (*1803-✝1884). Public Domain.