The Way of St. James is one of the most important and longest Christian pilgrimage routes in Europe. Countless sections of the pilgrimage route are already winding through Germany. The Westfälische Jakobsweg is a central part of the route leading to the French border.
In the middle of the 9th century, the tomb of St. James was discovered in Santiago de Compostela and the first pilgrims went on their way. In the 11th century, the knowledge of the tomb spread throughout Europe and one of the greatest pilgrimage traditions of Christianity developed. All pilgrims who would go to Compostela were promised the remission of their sins and so people from all over Europe made their way to far away Spain.
In Germany alone, there are more than 10,000 kilometres of designated Jacob's Trails. All continue to France and from there via the Pyrenees to Spain. Not all today's pilgrims undertake the journey to obtain a remission of sin. Many people set out to find their way back to themselves in the peace and quiet of walking and to reflect on their hectic everyday life. Those who hike more than 20 kilometres a day will get to know their body and rhythm anew. This is not about effectiveness or success, but about the most original way of human mobility.
The Westphalian Way of St. James is a centuries-old section of the pilgrimage route that takes you through nine daily stages and covers a distance of about 210 kilometres from Osnabrück via the Ruhr area to Wuppertal. The trail follows old trade and military roads, it leads you over the wide fields of the Münsterland, through densely populated Dortmund and to the border of the green and hilly Bergisches Land. Some daily stages have a challenging length, which you can easily divide into two days. Every pilgrim has its own rhythm and you will find it after a short time. This gives you the chance to rediscover yourself already in this section.
If you have found in Wuppertal-Beyenburg a real liking for pilgrimage, you can follow the seven-day Rheinischer Jakobsweg via Cologne to Aachen: komoot.com/collection/546/a-pilgrimage-week-on-the-rhineland-way-of-st-james
The Westphalian Jakosbweg begins for you at the cathedral in Osnabrück. Enter the impressive church complex and get your first stamp for your pilgrim pass. Then it goes over the streets of the old town and through the city out into the countryside. The houses are smaller and soon you wander across wide fields and meadows.Passing by the small towns of Hasbergen and Natrup-Hagen, you will reach the collegiate church in Leeden. Right next to the church is the Hotel-Restaurant Stiftsschänke, where you can fortify yourself before you make your way to the stage destination.You are crossing the westernmost foothills of the Teutoburg Forest and can already see from above Lengerich and the Münsterland in front of you. In Lengerich you get another stamp in the Evangelical City Church before you visit your hostel.You can either get your pilgrim's card directly in Münster or you can order it in advance. More information at jakobspilger.lwl.org/de/routen/ab-osnabrueck-weg-1/stempelstellen
With a distance of 14 kilometers, the second stage is one of the shortest tours on your pilgrimage route. After the demanding start, this is just the thing to find your own pace and get in step with your step.You leave Lengerich and wander across the wide fields and past the old farms of the Münsterland to Ladbergen. The landscape is peaceful and lonely and here you can learn to turn your thoughts off and come to rest.Once in Ladbergen, it is worth visiting the Evangelical Church. Berlin architects then participated in the construction, so the large village church between the small churches in the Münsterland is particularly striking.
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The restrained second stage is followed by Stage Three with a distance of 33 kilometers. After all, the purpose of pilgrimage is to push its forces to its limits and to come into harmony with one's own self while walking.You leave Ladbergen and soon reach the Dortmund-Ems-Kanal. You follow its course and change the shore sides several times. The Jakosbweg follows here the ancient trade routes, which were created long before the canal.Half way there is a rest in Tennenhof, before it goes along the Werse along by the small suburbs to Münster. After two days rest in the fields and in small villages, the living cathedral will seem like a metropolis to you. Past the historic buildings, it goes to the old town to the cathedral to get your well-deserved stamp there.
The fourth stage is also the longest stage of your pilgrimage on the Westphalian Way of St. James. You leave early in the morning and leave Münster heading south. After about five kilometers you leave the city behind you and then reach the suburb Hiltrup. After a short stop at the church of St. Clement, we head out again to the meadows and into the woods of the Münsterland.Soon you will have found your step again and walk at your own pace through the peaceful countryside. In the small village of Rinkerode there is a stamp on the Pilgrim Pass and it is a perfect place to stop at the Restaurant Lohmann before continuing on to the final destination.On dirt roads you reach the village of Herbern after a proud 33 kilometers. If you arrive before 6 pm, the little church will even be open. Otherwise, you get your stamp the next morning after a restful night in your hostel.
In the morning you leave Herbern and make your way through the Münsterland. After only a few steps, you will reach the end of your stage through extensive fields and through small wooded areas.On the fifth day, you will quickly find your pace and despite the long stages of yesterday, your past successes will give you the power to continue with joy.Soon you will reach Werne with its picturesque town center. Here you can perfectly take a break before you devote yourself to the last section.Finally, in Lünen, your destination for the day, you leave Münsterland behind. The next two days will take you through the densely populated Ruhr area, but behind it the idyllic Bergische Land is waiting for you.
The sixth stage is clearly one of the shorter stages and is a real reward for the distance covered. The Way of St. James first leads you out of Lünen and after you have crossed the Datteln-Hamm-Canal, meadows, fields and forests await you again.After you have wandered through the dense forest of the Süggel nature reserve, you will soon reach the Dortmund city limits. The houses quickly grow larger as you move toward the center.The north of Dortmund, especially the district around the Nordmarkt, does not have the best reputation. If you want to save yourself this, you simply climb at the underground station Burgholz or Eisenstraße in the U42 and drive directly through to the stop Reinoldikirche.There are two special churches waiting for you on your way to the finish. Both the Reinoldikirche and the St. Mary's Church have survived the destruction of the Second World War and today tell of the centuries-old history of Dortmund.
On your seventh leg you leave Dormund again and wander through the green Syburg down to the Ruhr. First, it goes through the city and through the Westfalenpark. At sports fields, event halls and at the BVB Stadium, the Way of St. James leads you further south.Soon, the houses become smaller again and after a short stop at the old church Wellinghofen, it goes through dense forest up to the Syberg. Up here you can enjoy the view of the Hengsteysee and visit the old castle ruins.On the shores of the lake, you continue on to your stage destination, the small half-timbered town of Herdecke.About halfway, just before it goes up to the Syberg, the restaurant Dieckmann's perfect for a relaxing break.
On the eighth stage, the Way of St. James leads you through the mountainous south of the Ruhr area. The stage is correspondingly challenging. You can expect a distance of almost 28 kilometers in length and a difference in altitude of 710 meters in the ascent. Since the Way of St. James leads not far from towns and villages, you can easily divide the tour on two days.At Herdecke you cross the Ruhr and soon reach the Hagen district Vorhalle. Short it goes through the small town, you're already in the nature reserve Funckenhauser Bachtal. Here you can enjoy the path through the lush nature before you reach Hagen-Haspe. Here in the Boniface Church there is a stamp for the pilgrim pass.From here it gets more and more hilly, if you hike on the forest paths above the Ennepetals to Grevelsberg. Another section on fields and meadows and soon you reach the historic center of your stage destination Schwelm.
On the ninth day is your last pilgrimage on. The tour is pleasantly short at eight kilometers, so you can take enough time on your way to review the last few days.With fresh energy you leave Schwelm to the south and reach the outskirts after a short time. The Way of St. James leads you on the route to Wuppertal-Beyenburg through dense forests and over hilly meadows. Satisfied and with you alone, you follow the path down to the banks of the Wupper and wander on its shores to the picturesque village of Beyenburg. Formerly ran through the small town important trade and military roads, especially the road from Dortmund to Cologne. However, the significance of Beyenburg faltered due to the railway and the blossoming of other cities during the period of industrialization. Today you can stroll through the idyllic village and admire the old buildings.As a pilgrim, the path leads you in any case to the impressive monastery church. Since Beyenburg was incorporated to Wupertal, the church is the oldest building in Wuppertal. Here you get your last stamp in your passport, before you travel on from the bus stop Am Kriegermal to the main station Oberbarmen.Even if you have not yet reached Santiago de Compostela, every step on the Way of St. James brings you closer to you. To travel a long distance on foot and forget all the hurry is the goal of many modern pilgrims.