The Way of St James (Jakobsweg) in the Tyrol
"The Way of St James begins when the pilgrim sets off."
I place my foot on the ground with due mindfulness, knowing that I am walking on a wonderful earth." (Thich Nhat Hanh)
The Way of St James is the ancient pilgrims' path to what is thought to be the tomb of St James the Elder, one of Jesus' twelve apostles. The tomb is situated in Santiago de Compostela in the northwest corner of Spain. The most famous section of the Way of St James is from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela.
The Tyrolean section passes through the Hall – Wattens region between Gnadenwald and Thaur.
Section: From Terfens to Gnadenwald approx. 6 km
Gnadenwald was first mentioned in records as "Gemein auf dem Wald" as early as the end of 11th century. The St Martin church is a Gothic building, but with a Baroquised interior. Records suggest it dates from 1337. The St Martin monastery was created in 1445 from what was originally a hermitage. Not longer afterwards it was amalgamated with the Waldschwestern convent. Various finds suggest that this popular place of pilgrimage and beauty spot was a pre-Christian settlement.
Section: From Gnadenwald to Absam approx. 5.5 km
There has been a settlement in Absam, formerly known as Abazanes, since prehistoric times. The importance of the town now arises from, on the one hand, its reputation today as a nativity crib village (together with the neighbouring village of Thaur), and, on the other hand, its parish and pilgrims' church of St Michael, built in 1420 in late-Gothic style. In 2000, the church was elevated to a basilica and is now a place of pilgrimage with a reputation that extends beyond the region's boundaries.
Section: From Absam to Hall approx. 1.5 km
The settlement of this region is inextricably linked with salt mining. The salt deposits, river traffic on the Inn and the mint led to rapid commercial growth and Hall soon became one of the most important towns in the eastern Alps. Fortified in the first half of the 14th century, this remarkably compact old town of narrow lanes and impressive medieval houses forms a unique ensemble. Hall is an essential stopover for pilgrims walking the Way of St James.
Section: From Hall to Thaur approx. 2 km
The village was first mentioned in records during the 9th century as Turane and is the oldest named settlement in the central Inn valley. Thaur is one of the Tyrol's most famous crib villages and many pieces made by the famous crib-maker, Josef Giner the Elder, are kept here. Shrovetide traditions also have a long history here and these festivities draw in many visitors year after year. The Romedikirchl is an important chapel in Thaur. It is a tiny pilgrims' chapel dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul.
Section: From Thaur to Rum approx. 2 km