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Experience Norwegian culture, learn about Nordic history and take part in a European tradition – regardless of your spirituality, a pilgrimage is a journey in more than one sense.
The St. Olav Ways – the pilgrim paths to Trondheim – consist of six pilgrim routes, all leading to the Nidarosdomen cathedral in Trondheim. The routes make up a total of around 2,000 kilometres of tranquil scenery through picturesque villages with a strong cultural heritage.
Whilst a pilgrimage is traditionally religious in nature, today the routes are open to everyone and the reasons for walking are highly individual. Some see it as an educational tour, some simply want to take the time to reflect on life in a peaceful setting and others walk to find God. Most modern pilgrims do however describe the journey as a deeply personal experience.
St. Olav's holy shrine in the Nidarosdomen cathedral, Trondheim, has been an important pilgrimage site ever since he was canonised in 1031, and it is still a treasured destination for pilgrims all over the world. The site that started as a simple wooden chapel over his grave evolved over time into a magnificent cathedral. It is the traditional location for the consecration of the country's king and considered to be Norway's national sanctuary. Located in the centre of Trondheim, the Nidarosdomen cathedral is one of Norway's most impressive buildings, filled with elaborate artworks and ornamented stone sculptures.
What drives three blokes to take themselves off on an adventurous wild-camping pilgrimage? Join Joly and the two Daves on an eye-opening hike from Oslo to Trondheim.
If you plan to complete your pilgrimage on high spirits and belief alone, you will probably struggle. There are lots of places along the pilgrim routes in Norway to cover your needs for a good rest, a proper meal and a hot shower. These are just two of them.
In medieval times, Christians from all over the world - most of them pilgrims - came to the Nidarosdomen cathedral to visit the shrine of St. Olav. Most often, there were two reasons to embark on a pilgrimage. Either you wanted healing from sickness or pain, or you wanted remission of sins.
The sight that met the pilgrims when in Trondheim, with the imposing cathedral painted in bright and shiny colors, was overwhelming. But even if many of the pilgrims had been walking for weeks or even months, they could not enter the cathedral straight away. As a ritual, they had to walk around it three times before they were allowed to go inside.
Most pilgrims planned the hike to arrive on St. Olav's Day, 29 July. On this day, the coffin with the remains of St. Olav was carried around the city in a procession. This was a great day for locals and visitors alike. Both the processions and pilgrimage journeys stopped after the Reformation in 1537, when Norway became a protestant country.
Today, pilgrims have again taken to the old pilgrim paths to Trondheim and the Nidarosdomen cathedral, even if their reasons to do so have changed since the Middle Ages. The history of the cathedral makes it an attractive destination for both pilgrims and other visitors, who can take part in guided tours, religious services and concerts all year around.
Plan your Norwegian pilgrimage yourself, ask a travel expert to help you, or join a guided group hike.
Norway is an incredible place to explore, with untamed mythical landscapes, mountains, valleys, and fjords. Before you enter the outdoors, get familiar with the nine simple rules of the Norwegian mountain code to help you stay safe.
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