History of S:t Olavsleden
S:t Olavsleden, is a 580-kilometer long pilgrim path that runs from Selånger in Sweden to Trondheim in Norway. The trail follows the footsteps of King Olav Haraldsson, who introduced Christianity to Norway in the 11th century.
The trail itself has a long history, dating back to the Middle Ages, when pilgrims travelled from all over Scandinavia to visit the shrine of Saint Olav in Trondheim. The trail fell into disuse after the Reformation, but it was rediscovered in the 1990s. Over the years, several local efforts have been made to preserve parts of S:t Olavsleden. In anticipation of the 1000-year celebation of the city of Trondheim, the diocese of Härnösand took an initiative to revive interest in S:t Olavsleden. In 2000, the first 15 km section between Selånger and Vattjom was revived. A collaboration between Länstyrelsen of Jämtland and the Olavsfestdagarna in Trondheim had the same ambition as the diocese in 2006 and 2007.
The pilgrim association “Pilgrim Medelpad Jämtland” started up in 2005 and focused on the trails themselves. The network of entrepreneurs in hospitality ”Nordic Pilgrim Saint Olav” was also created around the same time. In 2010 a group of women, Mariagillet, worked to restore and mark the trail from Pilgrimstad to Rödösundet. It was, however, not until the fall of 2012 that the trail reached the Norwegian border. In early September 2013, S:t Olavsleden was reinaugurated as a pilgrims path and a mass was held at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Since then, various local and EU funded projects have assured the continued development of S:t Olavsleden as a pilgrim path and tourist destination. It is now possible to make the journey also by bike or horse, making it an ideal slow travel adventure route as well as well developed pilgrim path with different kinds of lodging along most of the trail.
Natural wonders along S:t Olavsleden
S:t Olavsleden is not only a journey through history but also a journey through some of the most beautiful and unspoiled landscapes in Northern Europe. The trail takes you through dense forests, over rugged mountains, and along sparkling rivers and lakes. It is an opportunity to experience the stunning beauty of the Scandinavian wilderness up close. It is everything you would expect from a slow travel experience.
Spiritual significance of S:t Olavsleden
While S:t Olavsleden is a beautiful and challenging hiking trail, it is also a spiritual pilgrimage for many. Walking the trail is a way to connect with nature, reflect on life’s journey, and follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us. The congregations along parts of the trail organize hikes during the summer months. We try to be up to date on all that is happening along the trail here on the blogg, on the podcast and in our event calender.
The trail is marked by numerous churches and chapels, many of which have a long and fascinating history. It’s final destination is Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. The cathedral was built over the burial site of Saint Olav and is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Northern Europe.
You will spend most days in solitude. S:t Olavsleden is still much less frequented that other pilgrim paths and passes through a sparsely inhabited area.
S:t Olavsleden is a truly unique experience that combines history, nature, and spirituality. Whether you are an experienced hiker or a spiritual seeker, the trail offers something for everyone. From the stunning beauty of the natural landscapes to the fascinating history of the churches and chapels along the way, S:t Olavsleden is an unforgettable journey that will stay with you long after the hike is over.
For those of you that enjoy the solitude of S:t Olavsleden, but still would like to share your experiences in a community. Think about joining our online community here. It’s a bit like Facebook, except we set the rules together and we own our data. Join us before, during and after your pilgrimage.