The classic among Europe’s pilgrimage routes, the Jakobsweg, reports another guest record for 2019. Because pilgrimage is hip. Not least because it is sustainable travel. Here are some of Europe’s most beautiful pilgrimage routes.
Classic pilgrims: the Way of St. James
Almost 350,000 pilgrims came to the tomb of the Apostle James in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in 2019. Several routes from all over Europe lead there. Most pilgrims take the French route across the Pyrenees. The alternative route from Portugal, which was previously considered an insider tip, is also becoming increasingly popular.
The northernmost pilgrimage route: the St. Olavsweg
If you are looking for silence and not the mass experience, you are in good hands on the Nordic variant of the Way of St. James: The St. Olavsweg winds its way 5000 km through Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Saint Olav was a son of the Vikings and, according to legend, Christianized the Scandinavians. A popular part of the way leads from Oslo to Trondheim to the tomb of the saint in Nidaros Cathedral.
To the Holy Mountain of the Irish: the St. Patricksweg
The pilgrimage routes on the green island can be mastered in just a few days. Or even hours, like the most popular pilgrimage route for St. Patrick. Every last weekend in July, up to 30,000 pilgrims transform it into a kind of festival site (photo): They climb the 750-meter-high Croagh Patrick mountain barefoot or on their knees to take part in the first service at 8 a.m.
All roads lead to Rome: the Frankenweg
Believers and emperors made pilgrimages to Rome on the Via Francigena as early as the 4th century. It is the oldest Christian network of paths that leads from Canterbury to Rome via various routes. In the Italian section (photo) this means: 945 kilometers of Bella Italia with monasteries, domes and castles from the Middle Ages.
From cathedral to cathedral: the Bonifatiusweg
Being on the road and pausing are at the center of the Bonifatiusweg, which leads 185 kilometers through the green landscape in the middle of Germany. Only opened in 2004, it is still a young pilgrimage route. The route reconstructs the historical path on which the remains of the missionary Boniface (statue) were transferred from his bishopric in Mainz to Fulda in 754.
For mountain festivals: the St. Paulusweg
The St. Paulusweg in Turkey is both a pilgrimage and trekking route. Hikers start near Antalya on the Mediterranean coast, from where it goes up to 2200 meters in altitude in the Taurus Mountains. Good physical fitness and surefootedness are required on the paths, past Roman ruins and mountain villages. The destination is ancient Antioch, where the apostle Paul is said to have founded a Christian community.
Ways of Kindness and Sharing: Martinswege
Saint Martin was born in Hungary, his grave is in France in Tours (photo). Both places are connected by two pilgrimage routes north and south of the Alps. According to legend, Martin gave half of his coat to a freezing beggar. To this day, this story is remembered on November 11th, the day of Martin’s burial in Tours, with lantern processions.