You walk on ancient paths where thousands of people have walked before you. You don't need to be religious to feel the special atmosphere of the pilgrimage places. On the St. James' Way from Wuppertal to Aachen, you will encounter countless of these special places: Monasteries and churches, but also the peaceful landscape have a unique charisma. With every step on your way, your everyday life steps back more and more, little things lose their meaning, what is really important comes out. When you then step through the city gates of Aachen and look back on your way, you will find that you have also come closer to yourself.
The Rhineland Way of St. James takes you on a 160-kilometre route from Wuppertal Beyenburg through the picturesque Bergische Land to the Rhine metropolis of Cologne and further on to the imperial city of Aachen. On the pilgrimage trail you can expect to climb a mere 1,300 meters of altitude, which are spread over the sections of the Bergisches Land and Voreifel.
Along the Rhineland Way of St. James you will find a variety of landscapes, historic town centres and impressive church buildings. It goes over wide meadows, through dense forests and along streams and rivers. Even the section through Cologne leads over long distances through green parks and city forests. Although several stages of the tour lead through peaceful nature away from villages and towns, you will find cosy rest stops on all tours. So you don't have to worry about provisions. All you need are your hiking boots and pilgrim's staff and you can start your personal pilgrimage.
The Rhineland Way of St. James is the continuation of the Westphalian Way of St James, on which pilgrims hike from Münster through the Ruhr area to Wuppertal in nine days. If you would like to combine both sections, you can have a closer look at the Westphalian Way of St. James here: komoot.com/collection/526/9-days-on-the-westphalian-way-of-st-james
The first stage on the Rhenish Way leads you on quiet ways from Wuppertal to Wermelskirchen. You will hike across the rolling hills of the Bergisches Land, pass through small mountain villages and take a rest in the medieval town center of Lennep.Starting point of the tour is the monastery church of Mary Magdalene in Wuppertal Beyenburg. The path leads you through the narrow streets and after you have pressed a stamp in the small chapel of Maria in the snow in the pilgrim pass, you leave the city.The path runs along the banks of the Beyenburg Reservoir and soon you cross the Wupper. Forest paths and dirt roads alternate on the way to Lennep and you always have beautiful views of the picturesque landscape.Arriving in the cozy old town of Lennep, you can pick up your stamp in the Lennep shop, before you can take a break in one of the many cafés and restaurants.After your well-deserved break, the Way of St. James leads you across the streets to the city limits and back into nature. Past the Eschbachtalsperre you soon reach the city limits of Remscheid Wermelskirchen. Here you continue to the city center, where you get a stamp for the pilgrim pass in Café Wild and in the Evangelical town church.You can apply for the Pilgrim Pass online at the German Jakobusgesellschaft at deutsche-jakobus-gesellschaft.de/pilgerausweis/online-formular-einzelpilger.html. It's best to take care of it early so you can get the passport on time for your pilgrimage.You can also look up all postmarks on the Rhenish Way of St. James at jakobsweg-in-deutschland.de/index.php/pilgerstempel/22-nordrhein-westfalen.
The second stage belongs with the dreamlike Eifgental and the Altenberg Cathedral to the most beautiful tours on the Rhenish Jakosbweg. Away from towns and villages you follow the Way of St. James through the nature of the Bergisches Land. Here you can be completely with yourself and find your own pilgrim rhythm.You start at the town church in Wermelskirchen and follow the Wermelskirchener Bach, which flows into the Eifgenbach at the city limits. The Eifgenbach will accompany you today over a long distance, because you follow its course until it flows into the Dhünn.Along the creek you walk across wide meadows, through dense forests and visit small clearings. At the Eifgenbach were formerly many mills, of which several are still preserved today. Some of the magnificent half-timbered houses are now residential buildings, others are home to restaurants. So you can rest both in the Neuemühle and in the Rausmühle, without leaving the idyllic nature.Shortly before the Altenberg Cathedral, the Eifgenbach finally flows into the Dhünn. The huge church is the former monastery church of the abbey Altenberg and today an official station on the Rhenish Way of St. James. You continue following the course of the Dhünn until you reach your today's stage goal in Odenthal.
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On the third day, the Rheinische Jakobsweg will take you to Cologne. The metropolis on the Rhine has always been an important place of pilgrimage, and so the road to Santiago de Compostela leads past the world-famous cathedral.You start your stage in Odenthal and hike to the neighboring town of Schildgen, where you will receive a stamp for your passport in the impressive building of the Sacred Heart Church.The Way of St. James meanders through the forest of Dünnwalder slowly over the Cologne city limits. In the small district of the city of Dünnwald in Cologne you can pick up a stamp in the middle of the café, before you continue to the cathedral.Slowly, the houses are getting higher and the streets wider. You cross the motorway A3 and then reach the district Cologne Mülheim. Via the lively Berliner Straße to the banks of the Rhine. Here it is peaceful again and you can enjoy the great view over the wide river.Along the Mülheimer Ufer you reach the Katzenbuckel and over the pedestrian bridge you reach the green Rheinpark. On the promenade with its great view, you hike down to the striking Hohenzollern Bridge. Here you cross the Rhine, your milestone Cologne Cathedral you have it firmly in view. On the other bank of the Rhine, there are only a few steps left until you reach the huge Gothic church. Regardless of the crowds that arrive daily at the cathedral, you will love the heavenly building.
The fourth stage is also the longest hike on the Rhenish Way of St. James. It leads you across the streets and over the green, former fortress ring of the Rhine metropolis out to the small town of the Rhein-Erft-Kreis. Here expansive fields and pastures await you and soon you have forgotten the hustle and bustle of the big city.Your today's tour starts at the Cologne Cathedral and it is worthwhile to start early, when the city is still and the streets are empty. Through the city center you will reach the Romanesque Basilica of St. Aposteln, the first pilgrimage station of today's hike.Then you hike on the busy Aachener Straße out of town, but already shortly after the Aachener Weiher you leave this main traffic axis and turn off to calmer routes. Over the Lindenthal city forest and the outer green belt, the Way of St. James finally winds its way away from the streets and bustle to the city limits. Just before you cross the border, you get another stamp in the tranquil Widdersdorf in the Jakobuskirche.Then you hike across wide and flat fields to Brauweiler and Königsdorf. In both places are stations of the Way of St. James. Various cafes and restaurants are also well suited for a cozy and well-deserved rest. You then crossed the A4 motorway and wander through small forest to the finish point Kerpen.
After the city of Cologne on the previous stages, you can adjust yourself again today to more peace and quiet. The flat Cologne Bay is a low-terrace level and significantly responsible for the mild climate in Cologne. The few vertical meters of today's tour are a welcome change after the long fourth leg.You start your hike at the St. Martinus church in Kerpen, where you also get a stamp for your passport. Then you hike across the vast meadows and fields at the castle Bergerhausen and the commander castle along to Blatzheim and Golzheim. Soon you have regained your rhythm and walk with a firm step through the plains of Cologne Bay.In Merzenich, not only is a St. James Way station awaiting you, but here you can also take a break in one of the cafés or restaurants. Freshly rested you then master the last section until the stage goal Düren.
On the sixth stage you leave the bay of Cologne and wander on secluded paths through the hilly Eifel foreland. Almost the entire route runs through dense forests and away from villages and towns. Here you will find again a great place to rest.You start in the city center of Düren and after you have left the two districts Gürzenich and Derichsweiler behind you, it goes up to the Eifel foreland. The forest area that you cross today is called Meroder Wald. It extends south to the Wehebachtalsperre and numerous hiking trails lead through the dense forest. Directly on the Way of St. James you will also find the remains of the former monastery Schwarzenbroich, which are now heavily overgrown.On today's stage, a detour to the Laufenburg is worthwhile for you. The lies in the middle of the forest and here you can insert a cozy rest in the castle restaurant. At the edge of Meroder Wald you will reach the former monastery Wenau with the parish church of St. Katharina. After you have received your stamp here, it goes along the edge of the forest to the stage destination Schevenhütte.
The long last stage will once again provide you with varied nature and magnificent historic buildings. The tour takes you from the edge of the Eifel foreland first through forests and through small towns slowly to the imperial city of Aachen. Here awaits you at the venerable cathedral, the grand finale of your pilgrimage on the Rhenish Way of St. James.At the beginning of your hike you leave Schevenhütte and on narrow forest paths you walk past Kluckenstein to the nature reserve Schlangenberg. From the small mountain you have a beautiful view of the landscape that lies before you today.Across wide fields and through small villages you slowly approach the old imperial city. Both in Korneliusmünster and in Breinig there are not only the official pilgrimage stations but also various cafés and restaurants for a cozy break.At the edge of the Aachen forest, it finally goes into Aachen. In front of the historic city center you will pass through the mighty Marschiertor, one of the largest preserved city gates in Europe. Through the bustling city center you follow the Way of St. James to your destination. When you stand in front of the impressive Aachen Cathedral, you look back with pride on your pilgrimage.