Die Initiatoren freuen sich gemeinsam über den Startschuss zum Sauerland-Camino. - © Sauerland-Tourismus e.V. / Rouven Soyka
Pilgrimage has a centuries-old tradition and, at the latest since Hape Kerkeling's bestseller "Ich bin dann mal weg" ("I'll be off then"), is experiencing a renaissance among the population here in Germany. With the Sauerland-Camino, pilgrims in the "land of a thousand mountains" also have the opportunity to embark on a journey to themselves. Themes such as self-discovery and deceleration are then the focus of attention as they travel the 137 kilometers from Marsberg in the northeast of the Sauerland to Meinerzhagen in the west.
The Sauerland-Camino was created through the close cooperation of the Sauerland Heritage Association, Sauerland Tourism and the tourism contacts of the communities of Marsberg, Brilon, Meschede, Bestwig, Schmallenberg, Eslohe, Lennestadt, Attendorn and Meinerzhagen. They were technically supported by Prof. Dr. Susanne Leder from the University of Applied Sciences Südwestfalen in Meschede. "The pilgrimage trail was deliberately conceived as a counterpart to the hiking offers in our region, which are otherwise heavily processed for tourism," explains Thomas Weber, Managing Director of Sauerland Tourism. "Those who go on pilgrimage embark on a journey to themselves, take a step back and find themselves again." Aspects that are becoming more important than ever in today's world, when in many cases people's everyday lives are characterized by hectic activity, stress and constant turbulence.
The starting point of the Sauerland-Camino, one of the most beautiful sections between the major pilgrimage destinations of Paderborn Cathedral and Cologne Cathedral, is the St. Magnus Church in Niedermarsberg. From here, the route runs to the Lennestadt district of Elspe, initially on the historic Römerweg, a former long-distance trade route. From there, the route continues along the Heidenstraße, a military and trade route that dates back more than 1,000 years, to Meinerzhagen and the Jesus-Christus-Kirche church. "Routes from historical map material served as the basis for the trail concept. They are now being brought back to life as a whole," Elmar Reuter, Chairman of the Sauerland Heritage Society, is pleased to say.
Along the way, pilgrims can expect not only the diversity of wooded nature but also insights into the history of the region. Because pilgrimage has a long tradition in the predominantly Catholic Sauerland. At many crossroads there are crosses or wayside crosses, wayside shrines, chapels and shrines. And the Sauerland-Camino also provides for a well-deserved night's rest after a long day on the road. A total of 32 overnight accommodations offer pilgrims a place to stay.
"Pilgrimage is something very original and tells its own story," emphasizes Prof. Dr. Susanne Leder from the University of Applied Sciences Südwestfalen in Meschede. "It's also about feeling the history and consciously engaging with it. You walk through the landscape with a different view, come to yourself and find peace." The Sauerland Mountain Association is responsible for marking the trail in the proven manner. It ensures that pilgrims can always find their way safely along the entire route using the yellow symbol of the scallop shell on a blue background.