Pilgrims on the route between Erfurt, Arnstadt and Paulinzella are not just following in the footsteps of three important strong women, they also get to experience the local and religious history.
The 50 km route is devoted to the three most important women in the history of the church in Thuringia: St. Elizabeth of Thuringia (1207–1231), patron saint of the sick and the socially disadvantaged; St. Walburga (710–779), a Benedictine nun and patron saint of the plague as she worked as a healer during an outbreak; and St. Paulina (1067–1107), who founded Paulinzella Abbey. This is a pilgrimage that takes in old towns and cities, sleepy villages, churches, abbeys and monasteries with a long history, such as Ichtershausen, where the church of the Cistercian abbey still towers over the village, or Arnstadt, one of Germany's oldest towns. The route also passes Dornheim, home to the church where Johann Sebastian Bach was married, and ends at Paulinzella Abbey. Although its church is now in ruins, it is still one of the most prominent Romanesque buildings in Germany. It is a route where hikers are transformed into pilgrims while following the yellow scallop shell on a blue background. This signpost verifies that "On the Trail of Strong Women" is part of the medieval St. James' Way network from Erfurt to Coburg. It is an extraordinary route that inspires all who take it – and not just strong women – to meditate.
Length of route: 50 km
Pilgrim hostels along the route?: No
Arrival options: Erfurt Central Station
Departure options: Bad Wilsnack Central Station
About the route: signposted with a yellow scallop shell on a blue background; route can be taken all year round, restricted access in winter; difference in elevation of up to 400 metres