Pilgrim hikes have experienced a new boom. But it doesn’t always have to be the Way of St. James. This route is a good alternative.
At least since Hape Kerkeling’s (57) bestseller “I’m Gone Then” many feel the urge to experience a pilgrimage on the Way of St. James. Actually, it means several paths throughout Europe, the most famous of which is the Camino Francés. This leads from the Pyrenees over 800 kilometers through northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. But now the route is very crowded, especially in the high season. Those looking for a little more solitude are in good hands on the Ignatiusweg.
675 kilometers through picturesque landscapes of Spain
The pilgrimage route is approximately 675 kilometers long and leads through the beautiful countryside of Spain. The starting point is the birthplace of Saint Ignatius in Loyola, a small town in the north of the country. The trail ends in Manresa, Catalonia. Ignatius is said to have traveled this route in 1522. The Ignatiusweg offers pilgrims the opportunity to find themselves away from the large crowds. Hikers cross the Basque Country as well as the regions of Rioja, Navarra and Aragón. You can not only cover the path on foot, but also by bicycle or on horseback is allowed.
Of course, many people use the pilgrimage route for spiritual reasons. But it’s also a great way to soak up the beauty of the Catalan landscapes and enjoy nature and culture. For example, pilgrims pass the city of Lleida, which is characterized by a historic city center. The cathedral, enthroned on the castle hill, is definitely worth a detour. The route also meanders through a national park called Aizkorri-Aratz. The town of Verdú, on the other hand, is known for its handicrafts, especially pottery. The landscape is characterized by almond and olive trees – there are also vineyards.
Can be done in 27 daily stages
The town of Igualada scores with its winding streets and narrow alleys. Pilgrims can also admire an old fortress here. The medieval core of the town is surrounded by modern buildings, creating an interesting contrast. For many, the monastery of Montserrat is one of the most important milestones on the way, and Saint Ignatius is said to have spent a few days here.
The whole way can be done in around 27 daily stages. In 2022, the 500th anniversary of the path will even be celebrated. Along the route there are some hostels and huts for the pilgrims. But be careful: According to the official website, there are only a few accommodation options in a longer section between Zaragoza and Fraga. In pilgrim hostels you can generally only spend one night. A hike is recommended, especially in spring and autumn. To get a stamp for your pilgrim’s passport, simply ask at a public office or bar in the respective town.