Embark on a voyage of discovery back to the Middle Ages, but with a modern twist: this is a 100 km cycle trail on well-developed paths that retraces the steps taken by bishops. Cycling pilgrims find the Bishops' Tour through Brandenburg relaxing and exciting in equal measure, especially as there is so much to explore between Havelberg and Wittstock.
They have no need to fear fierce resistance on their way through the district of Prignitz, unlike the bishops who once attempted to convert the locals to Christianity. On the contrary, little towns that date back centuries and idyllic villages with their brick houses – an architectural style typical of Brandenburg – extend a friendly welcome to cyclists and provide the perfect backdrop for historic churches, monasteries, abbeys and castles on the way from Havelberg to Wittstock.
The Bishops' Tour is dedicated to the Bishops of Havelberg, when King Otto I founded the bishopric and the Princes of the Church held major sway over the region's history. As such, they left plenty of worthwhile sights to posterity, and it's definitely worth planning in time to visit them. Right from the start of the route in Havelberg, the "cradle of Prignitz" and the oldest German bishopric to the east of the Elbe, is a former bishop's residence with a museum in the adjacent abbey. It is also worth taking a detour to the summer residence of the Bishops of Havelberg: Plattenburg Castle, the oldest water castle in northern Germany, with a chapel and grounds designed in an impressive Renaissance style. Pilgrims can learn about a historic pilgrimage site at the Holy Blood Shrine in St. Nicholas' Church, Bad Wilsnack. Three blood-stained hosts once transformed the church into a famous pilgrimage site. Today, a saltwater thermal bath and mud spa as well as Heiligengrabe Abbey, which was once inhabited by Cistercian nuns, entice visitors to stay a while longer. Both places provide some tender loving care for the soul before the Bishops' Tour ends in Wittstock.
Total length of route: approx. 110 km
Pilgrim hostels along the route?: Yes
Arrival options: change at Berlin Central Station for regional and express trains to Bad Wilsnack
Departure options: Wittstock
About the route: well-developed, signposted cycle paths with no difficult uphill sections; signposted with a bishop wearing a mitre and carrying a staff in white on a purple background
For GPS data, visit: www.GPSies.com; to download a German-language flyer with information on bicycle-friendly accommodation and bicycle services, visit: www.dieprignitz.de; for more information (in German) on the "On the trail of the bishops on two wheels" package tour, visit:
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