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On the trail of the great romantic

Caspar David Friedrich in Saxony

An artist's life in Saxony

Join us on a journey through Saxony in the footsteps of the artist Caspar David Friedrich! Born in Greifswald on 5 September 1774, the painter moved to Dresden in 1798 and spent a whole 40 years there.

Once you've been to Saxony, it's hard not to realise how much Friedrich's compositions were influenced by his chosen home. This can be seen particularly clearly in his famous paintings "The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" (Hamburger Kunsthalle), "Two Men Contemplating the Moon" (Galerie Neue Meister Dresden), "Rocky Landscape in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains" (Belvedere Vienna) and "The Dreamer" (Hermitage St. Petersburg).

Friedrich not only found inspiration for his art in Saxony, but also went through significant phases in his life: he settled down as a painter, celebrated his first successes and became a recognised artist through his membership of the Royal Saxon Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden. He also married Caroline Brommer in Dresden's Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross) in 1818 and became the father of three children.

However, Friedrich's art gradually fell out of fashion and he was impoverished when he died in Dresden in 1840. It was not until 1906 that his works were rediscovered as part of the German Centennial Exhibition in Berlin and Friedrich's work is still internationally acclaimed today. This year he is particularly in the spotlight, as this year marks his 250th anniversary!

Follow in the footsteps of the great romantic: discover his sources of inspiration from breathtaking natural landscapes to old buildings full of history. You should also not miss the varied exhibitions of works by Friedrich and his contemporaries.

Inspiring-romantic Saxony

Saxon landscapes

Over and over again, Friedrich was drawn out of the city on extended hiking tours in the surrounding area. In his day, people still went hiking elegantly in a frock coat and with a wooden stick. Since then, our hiking clothing has gradually evolved into technically sophisticated multifunctional equipment, but a hike in Caspar David Friedrich's footsteps should still leave you with a feeling of romanticism. We'll share with you where Friedrich found his inspiration.

© Gunnar Feise

Saxon Switzerland

Friedrich is said to have undertaken his first hike through Saxon Switzerland in 1799, one year after his arrival in Dresden.

If you are visiting the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, a hike along the Caspar David Friedrich Trail is well worthwhile. From Krippen you walk to the Kaiserkrone, to the Wolfsberg and then over the Krippenberg back to the starting point. The approximately 14-kilometre route is marked with information boards about the artist's life and work.

Art tip: As part of the anniversary year 2024, a particularly large number of drawing and painting courses are being offered in Saxon Switzerland. Bring the unique landscape to the canvas and encounter nature and yourself.

© Sylvio Dittrich, Schlösserland Sachsen

Zittau Mountains

The Zittau Mountains may be the smallest mountain range in Germany in terms of surface area, but they have a lot to offer.

Friedrich was actually on his way to the Giant Mountains when he came across the castle and monastery ruins of Oybin in this landscape. The ruins, which had been destroyed by lightning, had been a popular subject for landscape painters since the 18th century. The place gained further popularity during the Romantic period - no wonder, as the castle hill offers a marvellous view of the Zittau region.

Friedrich produced sketches and later the paintings "The Dreamer" and "Hutten's Grave".

Tip: The ruins of the monastery church are not only beautiful to paint, but also offer wonderful acoustics. Attend a concert and absorb the atmosphere.

© Michael R. Hennig DML BY

Dresden Elbland

The painting "The Great Enclosure", painted in 1832, is one of Friedrich's late works. While the sky glows from pastel blue to orange, the view opens up across the Elbe into the tranquil landscape of the Ostragehege near Übigau.

© Gunnar Freise

Böhmische Schweiz

Admittedly, Bohemian Switzerland is not located in Saxony, but in the Czech Republic. However, if you climb the rocks in Saxon Switzerland, striking Bohemian peaks such as Rosenberg and Kaltenberg are often part of the panorama.

Friedrich was apparently so fascinated by these two mountains that he undertook a multi-day hike to the Pravčice Gate region. This enabled him to take a closer look at the elevations. The silhouette of the Rosenberg can be recognised in the paintings "Mountain Landscape with Rainbow" and "The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog".

"After living in Berlin for a while and indulging in art there, I came to Dresden eighteen years ago to continue my artistic work here, close to the most marvellous art treasures and surrounded by beautiful nature." C. D. F.

Saxon castles and monasteries

If you go travelling in Saxony, you will inevitably pass numerous castles, fortresses, monasteries and churches. This was also the case for Friedrich, who - like many Romantics - had a keen interest in the Middle Ages. His fascination for historic buildings and their ruins can be seen in many of his works. The following is a selection of Saxon monuments that have been proven to have inspired Friedrich's works of art.

Burg Hohnstein

Hohnstein Castle

Hohnstein Castle towers on a rocky spur above the Elbe valley, not far from the Bastei. With its museum, views, hostel and events, the almost 700-year-old castle not only attracts many visitors today, but also fascinated Friedrich.

In the summer of 1800, the artist sketched the gateway to the castle. He certainly didn't miss out on the unique view of the sandstone cliffs of Saxon Switzerland during his visit.

Travel tip: Hohnstein Castle is located directly on the Malerweg. On a multi-day hiking tour along the Malerweg, you will discover numerous other places that served as a source of inspiration for Friedrich. These include, for example, the Uttewald rock gate and the Bastei area.

©  STO Klaus Schieckel KSc, Schlösserland Sachsen

Stolpen Castle

Another romantic scene is located to the north of Saxon Switzerland: Stolpen Castle. Friedrich visited it in 1820 and of course also sketched it. The drawings document the traces of its destruction by Napoleonic troops. Take a moment in the "Romantic Corner" and compare Friedrich's sketch with the original motif.

Anniversary tips: The special exhibition "Between Heaven and Earth. Two Men in Conversation - An Approach to Caspar David Friedrich" is dedicated to the silhouettes and figures of Friedrich's works in an entertaining way. Philosophise about whether or what these people might have talked about.
from 22 June to 4 August 2024

Concert tip: The TWORNA trio gives a concert at Stolpen Castle - all in the spirit of Caspar David Friedrich.
on 26 October 2024

© AugustusTours

Heilig Kreuz Monastery near Meissen

Around 1824, Friedrich made a sketch of Heilig Kreuz Monastery, located north of Meissen, entitled "View from the Chapter House".

The sketch was later used as the basis for a small-format oil painting "Gate Entrance in Meissen", which can be admired in Dresden's Albertinum. The sketch is kept in the Kupferstich-Kabinett in Dresden Castle.

© AugustusTours

Nossen Castle & Altzella Monastery

In 1799, Friedrich visited Nossen Castle and made a drawing of the building and its immediate surroundings.

He seems to have liked the area so much that Friedrich returned there in 1800. This time he visited Altzella Monastery and sketched its wine cellar, the bulk building and the ruins of the summer dining hall. The remains of this hall must have particularly inspired him: 30 years later, Friedrich created the painting "Ruinen im Walde" (Ruins in the Forest) based on his sketches.

Exhibitions, monuments, memorial sites

Honouring the unique artist

Friedrich created his own monuments with his works of art. In Saxony's exhibitions you will find a large number of his pieces and those of his contemporaries. You can also visit other places and monuments that were created in honour of Friedrich.

© Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz

Chemnitz Art Collections

The Chemnitz Art Collections have countless works of Dresden Romanticism to offer, including Friedrich's drawing "The Harpist" and his painting "Sailing Ship"

However, the latter is currently "travelling" as part of the anniversary year and will be exhibited in the special exhibitions on Caspar David Friedrich in Berlin and Dresden. The piece is expected to return to the art collections on Theatre Square in Chemnitz at the beginning of 2025. 

Caspar David Friedrich's "Lebensstufen" © MdBK Leipzig

Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig

Founded in 1858 on the initiative of the Leipzig Art Association, the Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig today has one of the largest art collections in Germany. Among other things, it houses five drawings and three paintings by Friedrich, such as "The Stages of Life".

However, a little patience is still required: the three key pieces are currently presented in Berlin but should be back in Leipzig by the turn of August/September 2024.

Nevertheless, a visit to the permanent exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts is already worthwhile: admire the works of Friedrich's contemporaries and immerse yourself in the world of Romanticism.

© AugustusTours

Dresden State Art Collections

With 14 paintings, 70 drawings and a sketchbook, Dresden has one of the most extensive collections of Friedrich's works. In the Albertinum, right next to the Academy of Fine Arts, you will also find works by Friedrich's good friend Carl Gustav Carus, by Ernst Friedrich Oehme and Ludwig Richter.

By the way: You can add a visit to the Albertinum to your hiking trip on the Malerweg with AugustusTours as part of our "ArtPLUS: Caspar David Friedrich" experience module.

Anniversary tip: Temporary exhibition "Caspar David Friedrich. Where it all began"
Kupferstichkabinett: from 24 August 2024 to 17 November 2024
Albertinum: from 24 August 2024 to 5 January 2025

 © Wolf-Eike Kuntsche DML BY

Caspar David Friedrich - memorial sites

The artist's gravesite is still preserved and is being redesigned to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth. It is located in Dresden's Trinitatisfriedhof cemetery, whose entrance portal can be recognised in the painting "The Cemetery". Friedrich painted the work in 1825. Today it is on display in the Albertinum.

On your way to the Albertinum, you should not miss the Caspar David Friedrich monument in Brühl's Garden. It was designed by Wolf Eike Kuntsche in 1990.

A wayside column in honour of Caspar David Friedrich can be found at the start of the Caspar David Friedrich Trail in Krippen. The artist spent several summer weeks there in 1813. The stele was erected on the initiative of local history and art enthusiasts.

Further anniversary highlights in 2024

  • Special exhibition at the Kügelgenhaus in Dresden: "Rediscovered! The women painters of Dresden Romanticism"
    The museum focuses on the outstanding importance of Dresden in the age of Romanticism.
    from 8 June 2024 to 16 March 2025

  • Special exhibition at the Kraszewski Museum in Dresden: "Wanderlust und Reisefrust"
    Find out more about the points of contact in the motifs and worlds of German and Polish Romanticism.
    from 6 December 2023 to 27 October 2024

  • "Duell der Romantiker" - City bet between Dresden and Greifswald
    Which city gathers more people dressed in the style of the 19th century in its city centre on Frederich's birthday?
    5 September 2024

  • „Topographie der Sehnsucht – Auf den Spuren Caspar David Friedrichs“ at the StadtMuseum Pirna
    Romanticism meets Realism - a contemporary examination of Friedrich's works.
    from 1 September 2024 to 3 November 2024

  • Special exhibition at the Städtische Galerie Dresden: "C.D. Friedrich und das Echo der Romantik in der Gegenwartskunst"
    The theme here is also Friedrich's continuing influence on contemporary art.
    from 13 September 2024 to 2 March 2025

  • Gala concerts in the Dresden Zwinger: "Klänge der Romantik - 250 Jahre Caspar David Friedrich"
    The Dresden Residence Orchestra presents chamber orchestra pieces from the Romantic period by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Peter Tchaikovsky and Gioachino Rossini, among others.
    Once to twice a month from April 2024

  • "Audio-Walk: Der Rücken des 'Wanderers über dem Nebelmeer'"
    During the acoustic walk at Königstein Fortress, you can approach the painter in a slightly different way.
    from 12 August 2024 to 20 October 2024

Travel tips: In the footsteps of Caspar David Friedrich

For groups, we offer the art tour "250 Years of Caspar David Friedrich 2024", on which you can discover the above-mentioned and many other sights related to Friedrich's life.

Would you like to travel individually in Caspar David Friedrich's footsteps? Then you may be interested in our hiking tours on the Malerweg "Hiking Tour on the Malerweg Part 1" and "Hiking Tour on the Malerweg Part 2", as well as our 10-day Complete Tour on the Malerweg and 8-day hiking tour on the Malerweg, on which you can experience the artist's sources of inspiration in Saxon Switzerland. You can round off your stay with our "Hiking on the Caspar David Friedrich Trail" or "Art PLUS: Caspar David Friedrich" experience packages with a further pinch of culture.

Discover our other Hiking Holiday Offers in Saxon Switzerland. Here you will find even more information about other highlights and sights in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.

Credits:  © AugustusTours; © Gunnar Feise; © Sylvio Dittrich, Schlösserland Sachsen; © Michael R. Hennig DML BY; ©  STO Klaus Schieckel KSc, Schlösserland Sachsen;  © Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz; © MdBK Leipzig; © Wolf-Eike Kuntsche DML BY