Stay in comfortable abbey complexes, where the former monastic cells are used as rooms for guests. Meet other pilgrims in simple hostels or find a "home from home" in a working abbey or monastery and savour a simpler way of life.
"Pax et bonum" – peace and the good – is the slogan behind Blieskastel Monastery. Today, it is home to the Minorites, also known as "Greyfriars" in reference to their grey habit. Despite it being a place of serenity, silence and solitude, it is also a lively meeting place.
They dedicate their lives to their religion and follow the Rule of Saint Benedict, which focuses on "opus dei", or "the work of God". Nevertheless, the Benedictine nuns move with the times; they are open-minded and receptive towards all who ask about the meaning of life. At Eibingen Abbey near Rüdesheim, you can take all the time in the world in your quest for the answer to this question.
"Porta patet, cor magis – the door is open, but the heart even more so": even though the monks of the former Cistercian monastery in Loccum converted to Lutheranism in around 1600, they still resided there, preserving the Cistercian traditions for centuries.
Two large churches, two traditions: unity is promoted through the celebration of Roman and Byzantine rites in Niederaltaich Abbey near Passau. Life in the monastery is a balance between solitude and community, contemplation and action, with constant efforts to build bridges between Christians in the east and west.
Martin Luther spent six years living in St. Augustine's Monastery in Erfurt. The late reformer prayed, studied, taught and was ordained here. Today, this historic site serves as a meeting place and conference venue. It is also open to anyone wishing to spend a night in the monastery's peaceful setting.
The Cistercians at St. Marienthal Abbey are impressively active and creative, infectiously positive and incredibly persistent, and the abbey itself is an expansive building complex of historical and cultural importance. It is the oldest nunnery of the Cistercian Order, and has been active ever since its foundation in 1234.
Embark on a journey of inner exploration: you can either follow St. Bridget's Trail, part of the St. James' Way network, which takes in Tempzin Monastery, or break away from the pilgrimage at Tempzin Monastery. To hike, pray, sing and dance with like-minded people – or just be together in silence – in an ecumenical group.
Monks have been praying in Tholey Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the municipality of Tholey, for 1,400 years. 2008 almost saw the abbey close. Almost. Today, 13 monks live here, and the abbey has become a spiritual hub and conference venue. It is open to anybody seeking inner peace in silence and a return to their true self.
A fairy tale? If it is, it's certainly a modern one: by 1990 it had all but fallen into ruin. Today, Volkenroda Abbey is not just a reconstructed architectural miracle, it has become a meeting place, a place of spiritual guidance and humanity, contemporary and therapeutic in our often so demanding and stressful world.
Benedictine monks, Cistercian nuns and Jesuits were once based here. It has been owned privately and by the state and has been used as a local government building: as time goes by, the changes have left their mark on Wöltingerode Monastery. Today, it serves as a monastery hotel and a haven for those undertaking the pilgrimage through the Harz region or visitors seeking time out.