Pilgrimage paths

In the North of Germany is a famous pilgrim's path that played an important role in indulgence and healing from the Middle Ages up until the Reformation, and has been signposted again since 2006.

The 130 km long pilgrim's path leads from Berlin to the pilgrim and health resort town Bad Wilsnack. According to the Wunderblut legend, three undamaged, bloodied hosts were found in the ruins of the St Nikolai church after a terrible fire in 1383. For the following 150 years until the Reformation, thousands upon thousands of people flocked to the “holy place of the church Wunderblutkirche”. The most popular place of pilgrimage in Northern Europe was reverently called “Santiago of the North”. There is more, though: legend has is that a skirt of the Holy Anna, Jesus' grandmother, was kept in Alt Krüssow. This led to the little village with its idyllic fieldstone church St Anna becoming the destination of a thriving pilgrim tradition along the “Annenpfad”.

All paths lead to Wilsnack - following the pilgrim's path from Berlin to Bad Wilsnack

Not only Rome, Santiago de Compostela and all the other famous names were the destinations of pilgrimage, and remain so until this day. Pilgrims from all over Northern and Central Europe traversed to Wilsnack and made it the third biggest place of pilgrimage in Europe.

Pilger vor der Wunderblutkirche in Bad WilsnackFoto: Studio Prokopy

When the robber knight Heinrich von Bülow burned down the village Bad Wilsnack, he had no idea what he had put in motion with his heinous crime. The pastor at the time, Johannes Cabbuez, found three sacred, bloodied hosts, that had withstood the fire, in the ruins of the village church. Afterwards, people from all social strata, including princes and kings, pilgrimaged to the holy blood in Wilsnack, thus making the village famous.

At the same time, the Wunderblut worship created great infighting among Europe's religious elite, until the hosts were burned during the Reformation in 1552. Although the onslought of pilrgims subsided, previous travellers had left impressive traces on their way to Wilsnack.

You can travel the 130 km long path on foot or by bike, alone or in a group, and discover solitary field roads, pass forests and meadows, and traverse along picturesque alleys. Explore lovely little village churches und get to know people who take care of your wellbeing along the route. The path's destination, the health resort town Bad Wilsnack, relaxaction for both body and soul await you. Take a walk around the late-Gothic hall church St Nikolai and marvel at its greatness and originalty, and don't forgot view the exhibition “Wunder, Wallfahrt, Widersacher” (“wonders, pilgrimage, adversaries”) to follow the traces of the old oilgrims.

Wunderblutkirche St. Nikolai
Pilgerkreuz in Bad Wilsnack

In the health resort town Bad Wilsnack, a local club works to keep up the church and is also the iniator of the pilgrim's path. Here, you find all information on the path. The pilgrim festival takes place every year in August, offering a lot of fun, tasty delicacies, an artisan market as well as concerts and plays, performed by laypeople, of the history of the pilgrim's route to Wilsnack. There's more: the “Theater am Pilgerweg” (theater at the pilgrim's path) takes place as a “wandering theater” on the road on selected dates.

The route is the goal - the pilgrim's path from Berlin to Bad Wilsnack

The route leads from Hennigsdorf to Flatow, Linum, Hakenberg, Tarmow, Fehrbellin, Garz until you finally reach the Prignitz. The first stop in the Prignitz is Barsikow with its age-old willows and oaks which have accompanied not only the early pilgrims in the Middle Ages but also the modern ones. The local congregation offers sleeping quarters for pilgrims in the tower of the Barsikow church.

After a good night's rest, you continue your journey to Metzelthin where you can find several different signs of pilgrimage on the medieval bells of the old fieldstone church. Visible from afar is the great parish church St Peter and Paul which shows the pilgrim the right way to Wusterhausen.

Discover idyllic resting and swimming sites along the Klempow lake (also called Untersee (lower lake)) at the Kyritz lake chain. The gardens of the former Franciscan monastery in Kyritz offer a backdrop for medieval festivals. Passing the little half-timbered church in Rehfeld, the path continues along a lovely scenery, which presents the vastness of the Prignitz landscape, and leads through Berlitt, Barenthin, Görike, Söllenthin, Klein Leppin and Groß Leppin until it reaches Plattenburg.

Amidst a picturesque scene in the woods stands proudly Northern Germany's oldest and biggest still preserved water castle, which used to be the summer residence of the Havelberg bishops during the age of the Wunderblut. The last kilometres lead to Bad Wilsnack.

The modern pilgrim finds history and present day at the journey's destination. The Kneipp court by the Karthane, the Kristall thermal and graduation works spa, the Kurmittelhaus as well as a variety of gastronomies offer holistic relaxation for mind, body and soul.

Weg nach Bad Wilsnack

Along the Annenpfad

Saint Anna was one of the most popular saints in the late Middle Ages. According to legend she is Maria's mother and thus Jesus' grandmother.

Labyrinth an der Kirche in Bölzke, Annenpfad

She was the patron saint of guilds, tradespeople, women and mothers, miners and menials, and who people struck by the plague and lame people prayed to for help and relief. A skirt of Saint Anna was supposedly kept in Alt Krüssow which made the place a place of pilgrimage quickly.

Apparently threescores upon threescores (1 threescore equals 60 items) of crutches, which were donated as thanks to the miraculous relic, were kept at the pilgrim's church. Although places of pilgrimage lost their significance following the Reformation, the elaborate churches with their valuable decor remained.

You can marvel at the carved altars and the images of Saint Anna at the St Nikolai church in Pritzwalk, the museum at the Kloster Stift zum Heiligengrabe as well as at the Stadtmuseum Berlin. The idea for a pilgrim's path that connects the pilgrimage churches in Heiligengrabe, Alt Krüssow and Bölzke was realized in 2011 when the Annenpfad was created. Inside and around the church of the village Bölzke an exhibit illustrates the phenomenon that is pilgrimage that is present in all cultures on earth.

Every year on Maundy Thursday the annual “Anpilgern” (the opening of the pilgrimage season) takes place along the 22 km long Annenpfad.

The route is the goal - pilgrim's path Annenpfad

Wallfahrtskirche Alt KrüssowFoto: Arbeitskreis Annenpfad

Referring to the medieval pilgrimage to Alt Krüssow, the pilgrim's path was named Annenpfad. The 22 km long path leads on forest and field tracks through the serene, vast landscape. It encourages self-discovery and to feel closer to God while you walk through the nature. You'll find benches along the way to rest or meditate.

Starting point is the Kloster Stift zum Heiligengrabe, the only completely preserved Cistercian convent in Brandenburg. It was founded in 1287 and is the home to a Protestant community of women today. Religious attractions as well as architectural beauty impress visitors. The Convent church, Heiliggrab Chapel, a museum which illustrates the convent's long history, the medieval cloister and the Baroque Damenplatz create an impressive ensemble.

The next part of the route leads to the village church Bölzke which was built as a simple half-timbered building with little towers in 1825. The pulpit altar from 1757 signed by Master Groth was carried over from the previous building. The church was restored in 2011 and now includes an exhibition on pilgrimage. Info boards, a meditative labyrinth, and a nook with books offer further possibilities of engaging with the topic. Passing Kemnitz, the path further leads to the former pilgrim's church St Anna in Alt Krüssow.

The pilgrim's church is an important, late-Gothic hall church with a richly decorated step gable on its East side. Aside from Heiligengrabe and Bad Wilsnack, this church was another major destination for pilgrims in Prignitz.