The St.Olav Ways

The St.Olav Ways - the pilgrim paths to Trondheim is the name of the old pilgrim trails leading to Nidaros, Trondheim. The historic trails have been used by pilgrims and other travellers since the year 1032.

  • Photo: Håvard Johansen

  • Photo: Håvard Johansen

  • Photo: Håvard Johansen

St. Olav Ways - the pilgrim paths to Trondheim, is a network of authentic, historical routes leading through beautiful nature, agricultural landscapes and historical places. The path is coming from all cardinal directions to St. Olav’ shrine, the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. The Cathedral was the northernmost pilgrim goal in the Christian hemisphere throughout the middle ages. The pilgrims who follow the path all the way up to the beautiful high altar of the northernmost Gothic cathedral in Europa, realizes the increasing importance it has also for people of today.

The path winds its way through villages and towns, crossing mountains and rivers and turns along the ancient paths. People the path are telling stories linked with old houses, churches and places, traditional food and intriguing accommodation.

It is likely that most medieval pilgrims had a religious motivation for their journey even if many probably were adventures or had other motives for their walk. Today people have many different reasons for their pilgrimages. Exciting landscapes, clean nature and good routes, are enticing for the pilgrims. Encounter with the history and other people may also be a strong motivation. In addition to all these remarkable experiences that characterize the outward journey, the pilgrimage path also offers an inner journey.  A pilgrimage makes a certain impression to human beings; whatever faith or religious background they have; most people will undergo a mental transformation during such a pilgrimage.

To walk in the footsteps of people who have walked this way in sorrow and joy, hope and despair, throughout hundreds of years will leave lifelong imprints on those who dare to set out on the same route. To arrive at the goal, the mighty Nidaros Cathedral; after having walked for days is a unforgettable experience that the pilgrims will carry with them on the way home and further through the rest of their life.

Since the signposting of the pilgrim path started in 1994, more than 5000 kilometer along the route have been marked with the pilgrim logo.

The logo along the pilgrim path is easy to recognize. It combines the symbol for points of interest (St. John’s Arms/valknuten) with a form of the St. Olav’s cross. The logo is managed by the National Pilgrim Center.

The National Pilgrim Center is organized under the Nidaros Cathedral Restoration Workshop and the Ministry of Culture in Norway. The National Pilgrim Center has the overall responsibility for the publicly supported work on pilgrimage in Norway and especially for the approved routes.

All approved St. Olav Ways must have the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim as the final goal and a connection to the legacy of St. Olav. The Nidaros Cathedral is St. Olav’s burial church and Europe’s northernmost pilgrim goal from the Middle Ages.

The pilgrimage path through Denmark, Sweden and Norway received the status as European Cultural Route through the Council of Europe’s Cultural Route program in May 2010.