Summer is over. We finished our holidays, put away our deckchairs and put our straw hats in the wardrobes. We are reminded of the heat and holiday moments by a summer tan, browsed photos and magnets on the fridge brought from exotic travels. We hope that you managed to recharge your batteries for the whole year and the accumulated energy will allow you to survive until spring (only 180 days left!)!
So let's focus on the positives of the season that is fast approaching. Autumn - that's what we're talking about - can be a really beautiful time, turning golden and enchanting with the colors of the leaves. This is the time of year favorable for outdoor activities: walking, hiking and hiking. Or maybe it's worth combining body recreation with soul renewal and going on a pilgrimage! And where? For example, to Mariazell!
Mariazell is a famous Marian sanctuary and the spiritual center of Catholics from the Danube region. The town is located in the Salza Valley, among the northern Styrian Alps in the southern Austrian province of Styria, close to the border with Lower Austria. Located between the Annaberg and Seeberg passes, the Mariazeller Land enchants with its beauty and charm.
The town is a popular excursion destination also due to its proximity to the Mostviertel area, from where numerous pilgrimage routes lead south to Mariazell. The most important routes include the Via Sacra, the Mariazellerweg in Upper Austria and the Pielachtaler pilgrimage route.
From Vienna to Mariazell, pilgrims usually follow two routes. Via Sacra - the oldest pilgrimage route in Austria (covering the section from Vienna to Mariazell takes about 5 days) and the Wiener Wallfahreweg route, which will take us from the capital of Austria to Mariazell after four days. You need to be ready to cover a distance of about 30 km a day.
You can go on a pilgrimage alone or in an organized group. There are companies in Austria that specialize in organizing pilgrimage groups.
The roads awaiting hikers vary in difficulty. The Wiener Wallfahreweg is very picturesque, mountainous and runs through less populated areas. This route is also more demanding, so before you set off, answer the question: will you be able to cover the entire route on foot?
No matter which route you choose, each of them is characterized by a unique landscape, beautiful views, appropriate infrastructure to rest and gain strength for further journey.
After arriving in Mariazell, it is worth taking a closer look at this unique place hosting a Marian sanctuary, the most important of which is the 12th-century chapel protecting Our Lady of Mariazell, called the Great Mother of Austria.
The tradition of the cult of Our Lady of Mariazell dates back to 1157, when the monk Magnus's path was blocked by a huge boulder, making it impossible to continue his journey. The monk placed a statue of the Virgin Mary on the stone and began to pray for guidance. Then something miraculous happened: the rock cracked, opening a path. After this event, at the site of the miracle, the monk built a small cell ("zell" in German) where he could live and pray. Over time, a monastery and a church were built there, which are still a place of pilgrimage for multitudes of believers.
As you can see, this is a truly wonderful story of an exceptionally wonderful place that is worth visiting.