For over 2,000 years, the VIA REGIA has been the oldest and longest road link between Eastern and Western Europe. At around 4500 km and starting in Kiev, it passes through eight countries on its way to Santiago de Compostela. The German section of the route runs for approximately 600 km from the Rhine river through Frankfurt , Fulda, Eisenach, Naumburg, Leipzig and Bautzen to Görlitz.
Kings were not the only ones attracted to this medieval trade route: traders carried their wares along it, the military used it and in the medieval period, pilgrims followed it across the Western World to the Spanish pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela.
The trade route
The route was of great economic significance to cross-regional trade and the exchange of goods. Flanders cloth was transported from the West and wood, furs, wax and honey from the East, whilst the central regions transported dyer's woad (a plant used for dye) from the Thuringian Basin and mining products from Upper Saxony. The route also linked the two great trade fair cities of Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig in Saxony.
A military route
The route was also used by armies, and so large battles also took place around it, for example two decisive battles during the Thirty Years' War in 1631 and 1642 at Breitenfeld near Leipzig. The death march from Adlerwerke concentration camp in Frankfurt to Buchenwald concentration camp also travelled along the VIA REGIA in March 1945.
Movement, meetings and meditation
Numerous pilgrims taking part in the Aachen Pilgrimage also used the highway as a pilgrimage route. The VIA REGIA, an exquisite and fascinating treasure trove of European cultural history, remains a route of cultural dialogue and communication to this day. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in the autumn of 1989, the German part of the route has amounted to about 600 km and now as then, the cities located either side of it have blossomed into a breathtaking tourist belt that serves as a treasure trove of Europe's past.
Length: approximately 4500 km
Theme: culture and encounters
Bautzen: castle, ecclesiastical buildings
Eisenach: Luther city, Wartburg Castle
Erfurt: Augustinian abbey, Merchant's Bridge (Krämerbrücke)
Frankfurt: Römer town hall, skyline, Main river
Fulda: cathedral, palace, abbey
Görlitz: Europe city
Leipzig: trade fair city, Battle of Leipzig memorial
Naumburg: cathedral, museums
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