The Himmelsleiter ("ladder to heaven") is a very interesting part of Kuhstall. It's a very narrow passage through the rocks which seems to lead directly up to heaven. In some parts, it may be as narrow as 50 or 60cm! Steep stairs lead through the rock, but when you have reached the top, you're rewarded by a wonderful panoramic view.
Note: If you suffer from claustrophobia, don't do it!
Kuhstall is another popular rock formation in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The name is translated to "cowshed" - and interestingly, the rocks were once used as a cowshed when the weather suddenly changed. But don't ask me, why on earth they let their cattle graze up on that hill!
Kuhstall is a passage through a rock - but a very large one with 11m height, 17m width and 24m depth. It resembles a cave, but you can walk right through until the other side from where, once again, spectacular vistas can be enjoyed. Kuhstall is pretty crowded, but other less crowded rocks are around it. If you want to enjoy the tranquil nature far below you, you might prefer pausing there.
For the sports people among you: rock climbing is possible here.
The Bastei (engl. bastion) is the most popular tourist spot in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Located conveniently just outside the town of Pirna, basically every tourist bus stops here, drops off hordes of people and picks them up again after they enjoyed their bit of the site. Don't get me wrong: The Bastei is a natural wonder and thus incredibly beautiful - but you are very unlikely to be able to enjoy a peaceful moment.
What is so special about the Bastei? It's a group of spectacular rocks which drop off to river Elbe steeply: 194m!!! A picturesque arched sandstone bridge connects several of the rocks and makes up one of the most romantic images you can think of. Caspar David Friedrich and many other famous painters captured the beauty on canvas - I can, however, only provide a photograph. Combined with the wonderful views from up there, the Bastei is a must-visit.
This is a very serious thing: The NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany), a very right-wing party, is strongest in the area around Pirna - i.e. the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. While you're very unlikely to run into skinheads and neo-Nazis in the touristy places, be careful in the small and less frequented villages - especially if you skin colour isn't white.
It is very sad that one of the most beautiful areas of Germany is inhabited by quite a large number of brainless idiots, but that's the way it is. Just be careful, please.
The picture shows an advertisement for the next election in June 2009, reading: "Tourists welcome - criminal foreigners *** off!" Strangely, the line "criminal" is written in a very small type, while "foreigners" is written in a bigger type. The tendency is clear.