Although the picturesque town is caught in a temporal paradox that sends visitors back in history, the guiding principles are as progressive as they come.

Half-timbered homes; a lonely location in the wooded hinterland of eastern Germany; menacing rock pinnacles encircling the town on one side, and the surging Elbe River on the other—Schmilka has all the elements of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale from the 19th century. The picture is complete once a wicked witch is introduced. The only street in the village was naturally cobblestoned, so you have to run up and down it looking for a Wi-Fi signal. The buildings are about 200 years old, and the food and beer are made using similarly antique methods. Schmilka was a popular holiday destination 200 years ago, according to local art historian Andrea Bigge. She said, “It is again, yet it still feels like that time period.” “You have time here,” added guest-house proprietor Ansgar Rieger. “No schedules, no lists. You come to Schmilka to “do nothing.”

Technically speaking, Schmilka is not a municipality in and of itself; rather, it is the downstream outpost of the bigger town of Bad Schandau. But it’s not hard to imagine a tiny, remote country town in a park where mountain climbing and hiking are popular as a getaway for nature lovers.