Nine-day hiking trail between Czech Republic and Germany completed

A 162-kilometer pilgrimage trail that follows in the footsteps of Gunther of Bohemia from Bavaria to Czechia's Plzeň region has now been completed.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 26.06.2022 13:47:00 (updated on 26.06.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Inspired by the popular Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) in Spain, a 162-kilometer hiking trail that follows the travels of Gunther of Bohemia has been completed in collaboration between the Czech Republic's Plzeň region and Bavaria in Germany, according to Elisabeth Unnasch from the Arberland Tourism Promotion Department.

St. Gunther's Way (Vintířova stezka in Czech and Gunthersteig in German) takes hikers on a nine-day journey through Germany and the Czech Republic, with three stops in Germany's Lower Bavaria region, one at the border between the two countries, and five throughout the Plzeň region in the Czech Republic.

While portions of the trail itself have long existed, the route includes new signs along the way and placards with information about Gunther of Bohemia and his journey, as well as new resting stations. According to Unnasch, the trail was completed with the installation of a statue of a monk by Czech glass artist Vladěna Tesařová at the historic Annín Glassworks.

St. Gunther's Way will enter its first official season this summer after three years of work along the trail. The project cost more than 21 million crowns, and was completed with the support of the cross-border initiative European Territorial Cooperation.

"The main thing is to offer more than just information about the history of the region and unique tourist experiences amid the beautiful scenery of the Bavarian forests and Šumava," Regional Councilor Libor Picka says in a press release.

"There is also a significant spiritual overlap, and each stage offers unique places to meditate."

The trail officially begins in Germany's Niederaltaich Monastery, a Benedictine Abbey on the Danube where Gunther lived in the early 1000s. While not officially canonized by the Catholic church, Gunther is venerated as a saint in both Germany and the Czech Republic.

In his old age, Gunther acted as a negotiator between warring factions in Bavaria and Bohemia, and traveled throughout regions in what is now the Czech Republic.

The longest portion of the trail (22 kilometers) takes hikers from Sušice to Horažďovice, while the shortest (14 kilometers) runs from Prášil to Hartmanice. After a nine-day journey, those who follow the trail will end up in Blatná in the Czech Republic's Southern Bohemian region.

"The trail will attract a lot of tourists and is of great importance for the cooperation of Czechs and Germans," says Hartmanice Mayor Pavel Valdman.

"People are looking for an opportunity to calm down, have time to think and meditate," adds Simona Fink, head of the Bavarian-Czech information center in Plzeň.

"The trail already existed, we just restored it."

More information about St. Gunther's Way (in Czech and German) can be found at its official website.

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