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About St Olav Waterway

About St Olav Waterway

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Following the footsteps of pilgrims

The St Olav Waterway pilgrimage route follows the paths of medieval pilgrims. The route passes through one of the most beautiful archipelagos on Earth, one of exceptional natural beauty, rich cultural history and an abundance of stories to tell.

For today’s pilgrims me-time, spiritual growth and peace of mind are especially valuable. So, take a pause amidst nature, enjoy life’s simplicity and meet new people.

Choose your own path

You have the opportunity to travel an age-old route that meanders through archipelago sceneries surrounded by 50,000 islands. Follow the trail by whichever means best suits you: by foot, bicycle, rowboat, kayak or sailboat. If you so wish, you can wander off the path to visit interesting sights and freely plan your own course.

Beautiful medieval churches and atmospheric chapels are situated along the route. While admiring historic sights you can make acquaintance with local cuisine and traditions.

Olav wished to unite people

St Olav Waterway was named after a Norwegian saint. Olav Haraldsson was born in Norway in the end of the first millennium, when Christianity spread to Scandinavia. In 1014, Olav became Christian and he was baptized in Rouen, France.

Olav was king of Norway from 995 to 1030. He wanted to unite Norway and make it a Christian country where legislation would protect even the weakest members of society. Many objected his thoughts, and in 1028, he was exiled and fled to Novgorod for a year.

Olav died on July 29 in 1030 in the battle of Stiklestad north of Nidaros, the city known today as Trondheim. After Olav’s death, people bore witness to several miracles on the grave of Olav and elsewhere in Nidaros. He was canonized in 1031, only a year after his death.

The sacred route leads to Trondheim

Nidaros was one of Northern Europe’s most significant pilgrimage sites for 500 years. In the Middle Ages pilgrims would commemorate St Olav by traveling from Novgorod to Nidaros. Eventually the Lutheran church ceased all pilgrimages in Scandinavia.

In Sweden, there is an exceptionally high number of churches dedicated to Olav, but there are several St Olav’s Churches in Finland and at the Åland islands as well. Many pilgrims visit the grand Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim annually.

Sankt Olav has been one of the most important Nordic saints and a unifying force between countries. Olof’s and Olav’s name day is celebrated on the 29th of July.