If you drop in to the "Pilgerherberge im Alltag" pilgrim hostel in Berlin, you will generally meet like-minded people and experienced pilgrims, as well as many people who would love to give it a go and are looking for tips on how to get started. After all, there are opportunities to go on a pilgrimage just a stone's throw away, on the St. James' Way route through Brandenburg.
As the Spanish say, the St. James' Way pilgrimage begins as soon as you leave your house. This seems particularly relevant to Brandenburg, where major pilgrimage routes cross paths. For example, the routes that start on the Baltic Sea coast and head south, or the pilgrimages via Frankfurt an der Oder to the west. It is an ideal network for novice pilgrims, although it does have a few challenging stages. For example, the pilgrimage from Bernau bei Berlin to Hennigsdorf, which is around 59 km long and a stone's throw away from Berlin. You are guaranteed to meet like-minded people there, who have come to Bernau from Szczecin on the Via Imperii pilgrimage route, and who may continue their journey towards Lutherstadt Wittenberg and Leipzig. Or pilgrims who have made their way from Frankfurt an der Oder, who join them for a while and then part ways at Hennigsdorf to head in a north-west direction, perhaps with the final destination of Santiago de Compostela in mind – a whopping 3,080 km from Hennigsdorf! The historic routes through Brandenburg and the Oder region are old, but efforts to maintain them are relatively new. Jakobusgesellschaft Brandenburg-Oderregion e.V., a not-for-profit organisation, has been actively working on researching, maintaining and preparing the old paths for pilgrims since 2011. This is helpful for those who use the routes, and particularly worthwhile for the locals.
Number of routes: 7
Pilgrim hostels along the route?: Yes
Starts: anywhere along the route
Arrival options: Frankfurt an der Oder or Berlin
Departure options: depends on the final destination
About the route: can start at any stop;
for detailed information about the routes and a flyer with a map of the entire route and pilgrim hostels (in German), visit: