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The focus of pilgrimage is not on sights along the way or reaching the destination quickly, but in a certain contemplation, reflection on the self. Pilgrimage is pure slow travel.

Conscious, steady walking in beautiful nature can be immensely beneficial. Thoughts slow down, fresh air flows through the body. Gradually, the hectic pace of the day recedes, the mind comes to rest, deceleration sets in. What wandering monks have experienced since time immemorial, we feel today on the wide paths in the travel destination of Lower Saxony during mindful travel, the pilgrimage. 

This is exactly the kind of hiking that hiking book author and travel journalist Thorsten Hoyer: "Hiking also as a sporting challenge - always a pleasure for me. But not only! Hiking is for me much more the conscious letting go of the everyday, the opening up in "my" nature. Already the preparations for the hike trigger almost childlike impatience. The closer the day of my departure comes, the greater the tension within me. Whether it's a short escape or a big break, I find "my" time on Lower Saxony's ancient pilgrimage routes Via Baltica, Via Scandinavica or Via Romea. In addition, I feel closely connected to the beautiful Heidschnuckenweg in a special way."

Pilgrimage is a very special, almost spiritual form of walking. It can have a meditative character, can help to regain inner balance and peace through steady movement and silence, which may have been lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This can be done wonderfully on Lower Saxony's pilgrimage trails, to the benefit of body and soul.

Mindful hiking through quiet landscapes

"Ich bin dann mal weg - Meine Reise auf dem Jakobsweg" (I'll be off then - My journey on the Way of St. James) is the name of the book by entertainer Hape Kerkeling, who described his experiences on his hundreds of kilometer-long tour of Spain in it almost 15 years ago. The work became a bestseller, but is by no means the only reason for the general boom in pilgrimage, hiking through mostly quiet landscapes on routes that often lead to remote pilgrimage sites. Lower Saxony has a great many of these to offer.

On the way, there are always open churches where you can stop for a break - in many monasteries and parishes pilgrims can also spend the night, regardless of age, origin and denomination. There are also volunteer pilgrim guides who know the most inspiring and spiritual places. And even if the Way of St. James is probably the best-known pilgrimage route, there are many other charming paths in Lower Saxony.

Over forest boardwalks and through the heath

The Sigwardsweg for example, which connects the former episcopal city of Minden and the Sigwards Church in Idensen near the Steinhuder Meer. Chapels, churches and monasteries of the old diocese of Minden make up the total of 24 pilgrimage stations on the 170-kilometer circular route and entice visitors to pause for a moment. The path behind Bad Rehburg is particularly beautiful with its forest promenades and the many viewing and picnic areas. The starting point of the pilgrimage is Minden, which can be reached easily by train.

This is how you get to Minden by train: Plan arrival.

Easily accessible by train entry points to the Jacobusweg there are many, from Hamburg to Schneverdingen, Soltau, Walsrode, Celle and Eschede. Depending on the choice of route, the pilgrimage route is between 200 and 280 kilometers long, the path leads through the nature parks Lüneburg Heath and Südheide as well as through the Aller-Leine valley. Then you hike quietly and mindfully through mystical forests and moors and across the largest contiguous areas of natural heath in Central Europe, which are tended by shepherds with their herds of heidschnucken - suitable places to come to rest. 

How to get to Hamburg by train: Plan arrival.

Rest in beautiful churches and monasteries

Schola DeiThe Church of God is the name of a pilgrimage trail that starts at the Cistercian monastery of the same name in a small wood near the town of Ihlow, northeast of Emden (a bus leaves from there). After about 40 kilometers, the destination is reached in the small town of Norden just before the open sea. The pilgrim can stop at 16 stations along the way and enjoy the silence in churches and monasteries, for example in the large three-nave St. Mary's Church in Marienhafe or in Norden's Ludgeri Church - the largest medieval sacred building in East Frisia houses, among other things, a world-famous Schnitger organ.

How to get to Emden by train: Plan arrival.

The Willow Church in Börger and the old village site of Wahn with its beautiful cemetery are some of the places of power on the Hümmlingen pilgrimage route. It runs through the region of the same name with its rolling hills and vast forests as a circular route southeast of Papenburg. On the way, the pilgrim will find numerous large erratic blocks with meaning boards, the reading of which is intended to encourage pause. The nearest train stations are in Lathen and Meppen.

This is how you get to Lathen by train: Plan arrival.

There are many arrival and departure stations at the Pilgrimage route Loccum-Volkenrode, after all, the is about 300 kilometers long. It connects the two former Cistercian monasteries in the places that bear their names. It passes through varied natural landscapes over the Weser Mountains, the Vogler, the Solling and through the Eichsfeld, and along the way you will find numerous monasteries and traces that the reform order of the Cistercians once left behind. By the way: If you want to enjoy worldly things again for a change, you can make a detour from Loccum Monastery to Münchehagen - the dinosaur park there will not only delight little hikers.

How to get to Loccum by train and bus: Plan arrival.

Cover picture: The walking shoes firmly laced, it goes on quiet ways by Lower Saxony © TMN - Alexander Kaßner