The ‘Way of St James’ in Tirol in the Wilder Kaiser region

Pilgrimages. Hikes. Culture. Good health for your body, mind and soul.

© Stefan Leitner

General route of the Way of Saint James in Tirol
Three major ‘Ways of Saint James’ paths traverse Tirol from east to west. Of course, they were not the only routes taken by pilgrims: to this day, many take shortcuts or detours. ‘Ways of Saint James’ are paths that saw steady flows of pilgrims over the centuries as documented on buildings, in records and through solemnities. Over time, political upheaval (e.g. war) and natural events (floods, landslides etc.) changed their course.

From the north:
The Way of Saint James originating in southern Germany leads from Rosenheim to Kufstein, continuing westwards through the Inntal Valley. It crosses Innsbruck towards the Arlberg and traverses the Vorarlberg region to the Bernese Oberland via Bludenz, Feldkirch and Liechtenstein.

From the east:
The Way of Saint James crosses the Carinthian Drautal valley towards Lienz, then continues along the Pustertal Valley to reach Innichen and Bruneck. Its final section leads from Brixen to the Eisacktal valley, where it merges with the southern Way of Saint James.

From the south:
The Italian Way of Saint James leads from the Salurner Klause to Bozen and continues northwards through Brixen and Sterzing before reaching the Wipptal valley. It traverses the Brenner Pass northwards, taking you to the Inntal valley near Innsbruck.

The Way of St James communities of Ellmau, Going, Scheffau and Söll

The Way of St James community of Going

© Manuel Bialucha

Going is nestled into the foothills of the Wilder Kaiser mountains east of Ellmau. It owes its identity to the spectacular mountain range that overlooks it: Going is one of the most popular ski and summer sports destinations in the Eastern Alps.

In the late sixteenth century, the heyday of the local mining industry, a miners’ settlement was established in the district of Prama. A few of its farms remain to this day.

Historical records document the existence of a church in Going as early as the late fourteenth century. Its current parish church, the Church of the Holy Cross, is a Baroque building dating back to 1774.

Thirsty pilgrims get to refresh themselves at a lovely spot in the centre of Going: the village fountain was built in the 1960s and is guarded by a copper statue of Saint Florian.

One of Going’s buildings beautifully demonstrates how the Way of St. James brings the body and soul in balance. It is also a clear signal to everyone who believes in self-denial as the ultimate spiritual practice:
the ‘Dorfwirtskapelle’ chapel. Built in the seventeenth century, it is a part of the Gasthof Dorfwirt inn today.

The Way of St James community of Ellmau

© Felbert/Reiter

Ellmau is located to the west of St. Johann and south of its magnificent backdrop, the Wilder Kaiser mountains.

Historical records first mention its parish church, the Church of St Michael, in 1215. Its current incarnation is a Baroque building that was established in 1740.
The modern district of Kufstein used to be the Landgraviate of the Inntal valley, then under Bavarian rule: around the turn of the century, the Rapotonen noble family governed the entire valley.

The first recorded reference to Ellmau is found in a charter of the Herrenchiemsee monastery dating back to around 1155. In it, Sigboto of Steteheim, a minister under Engelbert III, Margrave of Istria, bequeathed his estate “in Elmouwe situm in loco Horngahe” (“situated in Ellmau, in the district of Horngach”) to the Bishopric of Chiemsee.

The beautiful, mountainous region surrounding Ellmau is a fantastic area for winter sports and summer hikes.

The Way of St James community of Scheffau

© Mathäus Gartner

Records suggest that Scheffau had a Romanesque church as early as the thirteenth century. 200 years later, a Gothic structure with ogival windows, arches and doors followed, along with the church tower and the Madonna sculpture in the upper left corner of the nave.
The current, Baroque incarnation of the parish church was built in 1756. Its murals were painted by Matthias Kirchner from Kitzbühel, while the high altarpiece was painted by Johann Nep. Strasser in 1868. It depicts both church patrons above Scheffau.

The exterior of the church was last renovated in 1980, two decades before the extensive renovations of its interior in 2001/02. The congregation altar, ambo and baptismal font were newly made from light Italian marble; the confessional box and main portal were remade from timber. A new vestibule and the stairs leading up from the community hall make the church especially inviting.

A church guide is available on the literature stand of the Scheffau parish church.

The Way of St James community of Söll

© Felbert/Reiter

Söll is located to the east of Wörgl in the high valley straddling the Inntal and Leukental valleys.

Its late Baroque parish church, built in 1771, is dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul and has been dubbed the ‘Söll Farmers’ Cathedral’ owing to its impressive size. It is adorned with spectacular paintings depicting major events in the lives of the two apostles.

Söll is a popular tourist destination with plenty to do in winter and summer alike. Pilgrims, in particular, will enjoy the prize-winning theme park ‘Hexenwasser Söll’.

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