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Project history

As early as 1987, the Council of Europe designated the European routes of the St. James pilgrims as the first European cultural route and encouraged the European regions to research, mark and connect these routes on a regional level with the origins of the “european thought”. In 1993, UNESCO declared the network of paths of the pilgrims of St. James a World Intellectual Heritage Site. This is intended to support the exchange of education, ideas, art and culture between regions and nations, as was already the case in the Middle Ages.

The Saarbrücken region is one of the hubs of the rediscovered paths of the St. James pilgrims, which lead from the direction of Speyer, Worms and Mainz via Saarbrücken on to Metz. In 2006, the Saarbrücken regional association gave the go-ahead for the “Sternenweg/Chémin des etoiles” valorization concept. Within the framework of the project, a network of the European idea was to unfold along these special routes, with a small budget but great civic, social and cultural commitment.

In a first phase, the project was implemented together with the neighboring Saarpfalz district on the Saarland | North Route and the Saarland | South Route from the former Benedictine monastery of Hornbach through the Bliesgau Biosphere Reserve to Saargemünd and Saarbrücken/Spichern, respectively. In order to trace the lines of movement and path axes of the St. James pilgrims running between the old episcopal sees of Mainz, Worms, Speyer and Metz, the project area was extended into the greater region in a further phase.


In order to facilitate the identification with the period of origin of the pilgrimage of St. James and to strengthen the regional identity, the recording of theof the medieval building culture along andalong and in the immediate vicinity of the routes of the project area is a focal point of the project work. This will enable municipalities to design regional “loops along the Starry Path” even irrespective of the main routes used for tourism, and to highlight their specific cultural heritage in the context of pilgrimage.

Since 2006, these cultural monuments have been successively decorated with astone scallop shelland equipped with an information board. Likewise, thepartnerslocal partners as “patrons” are informed about the background of the model project and the local website is linked to the Starry Path homepage.

The public relations work carried out as part of the project often generates a great deal of interest locally and a willingness to engage with the regional cultural heritage of the Middle Ages - also in connection with the topic of pilgrimage. The European network idea inherent in the model project inspires thinking beyond one’s own church tower. In many cases, synergy effects between neighboring communities and an enthusiasm for local measures develop from this, which also strengthen the sense of community among each other.

The decoration ofpath surfacesin the form of stars and ornaments made of fieldstone in the Saarpfalz district and the Saarbrücken region formed another focus of the careful valorization of these rediscovered paths. The implementation is carried out within the framework of qualification measures for job-seeking people by the Zentrum für Bildung und Beruf Saar gGmbH in Burbach (ZBB) and the Gesellschaft für Arbeit und Qualifizierung mbH in the Saarpfalz-Kreis (AQuiS).

In order to make the official routes of the project area accessible to interested parties and to make it easier for them to plan their own, individual tours along the Starry Paths, the individual routes, the recorded medieval cultural monuments as well as the trail signs were mapped with the help of ourinteractive mapdigitized.

The Starry Path as a field of experimentation

Following the basic European idea of the Starry Path, an important field of experimentation of the model project consists in sounding out the extent to which a cross-border, large-regional space of experience can inspire or further develop an inspiring and creative way of being on the move and a value-oriented European togetherness. The exciting question is to what extent individual thoughts and attitudes change or develop further when people increasingly understand their individual hiking tours as paths of knowledge, become aware of the different values of a humanistically oriented society, discover cultural heritage as spiritual places on the way and receive corresponding impulses in a poetic way. The model project would like to offer an exemplary open space for living, experiencing and meeting.

Being on the move opens up a special opportunity to live European values in encounters with people. Pilgrimage walking on the Starry Paths could become a ritual that conveys a humanistic message and inspires people on an emotional level for the European community. To support this we offer aselection of “guiding thoughts”which refer to a canon of values of being a responsible and creative human being, and which can complement being on the Starry Paths as a spiritual stimulus and accompany inner reflection. Poetic texts about being on the way can also be found in theillustrated bookand the two“Klangbüchern”on the model project.