The Via Maria (Way of Mary; Hungarian: Mária-út, German: Marienweg) is a spiritual route for tourists and Christian pilgrims in Central and Southeastern Europe.
The pilgrimage connects the shrines of Mary, without interfering with any historical, cultural, or religious differences between the different religious traditions of central and southeastern Europe. The East–West and North–South directions of the way draws a large cross upon the map (Austria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, Croatia, and Bosnia) and creates a traditional pilgrimage network, similar to El Camino.
The route will be marked with [ M+ ] signs but the marking is in the 2020's already in progress, and almost complete therefore before you start the pilgrimage it is better to orient yourself. Occasionally short-cuts or alternatives will be marked clearly. The main routes are complemented by additional alternatives and branches, thus strung on various pilgrimage sites, natural and built as well as cultural values. In the recommended accommodations it recommended informed and sign in in advance.
In addition to the traditional, colored signs for tourist, the Via Maria pilgrimage routes are marked by a special purple sign. Trails leading to sacred locations or to places where documents can be sealed/stamped have their own, additional trail marks. Road signs contain additional information at the junctions of the pilgrimage route, more important starting and destinations: these include directions, distance data and time information, as well as the name of the place. The Via Maria Public Benefit Association (Mária Út Közhasznú Egyesület) was founded on 2006.
The pilgrim's routes can be walked, or many of them also accessible by bicycle and horse, it can be start in any direction and in every part.
- 1Úton International Pilgrimage (1Úton Nemzetközi Zarándoknap): 15–31 August annually, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Along the whole passage of the Way of Mary, the Mária Út Association and the Maria Radio are organizing a pilgrimage since 2014 in every year after the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is touching more than a hundred places international.
- Maria Marathon (Mária Maraton): 1 June – 31 July annually, ✉ email@example.com. Sport and spirituality for runners and cyclists for 15-30 days, with distances of 42-82 km.
Although the Via Maria is open to anyone who is looking for the cultural, spiritual and natural values, the roads along the shrines of the Blessed Virgin Mary are primarily recommended for those who in addition to walking, cycling and horseback riding also seek spiritual deepening. This does not necessarily require Christian commitment, but tolerance and openness to each other is essential.
Main routes and and their sections
These pilgrimages are marked in purple.
The east-west axis (M01) of the network of Via Maria pilgrimage and hiking trails across Central Europe leads from 1 Mariazell in Austria through 2 Celldömölk, 3 Budapest and 4 Máriapócs in Hungary to Șumuleu Ciuc (Csíksomlyó) in Transylvania, covering a distance of about 1,350 km and can be walked in 60 days. The Bavarian-Austrian Via Maria pilgrimage which goes from 1 Altötting to Mariazell can complement the main route "M01" - the two pilgrimages together covering a distance of about 1,700 km.
- The Mindszenty road (Mindszenty-szakasz) goes in the western part of the main route "M01" from Mariazell through Celldömölk to Budapest, covering a distance of about 456 km and can be walked in 20 days. It has a total of 58 daily stages. The path was named after József Mindszenty
- Pilgrimage of Hearts (szívek zarándokútja) is the name of the Aszód-Máriabesnyő section of Via Maria since 2015, so that the employees and residents of the Aszód Boys' Education Institute make pilgrimages on this road every year, celebrating the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
- Route of Gyergyószék (Gyergyószéki útvonal) goes in the eastern part of the main route "M01" from Praid, the starting point of the "last 100 kilometers of the Via Maria", through Joseni to Șumuleu Ciuc in Romania, covering a distance of about 120 km and can be walked in 5 days.
The South Way (M03 or déli út) is just still planned in 2020. Its route is going in the planned direction from Mariazell in Austria through 5 Zalaegerszeg, 6 Pécs, Szeged in Hungary and 7 Máriaradna to 8 Șumuleu Ciuc in Transylvania, covering a distance of about 1,500 km.
The Franciscans Way (M10 Ferences út) goes from Tatabánya through Esztergom, Mátraverebély to Abasár in Hungary, covering a distance of about 250 km.
Alternative pilgrimages and associated routes
These routes are marked in traditional hiking sign colors. The highest priority of these as pilgrimages are the blue colored signals, followed by the red, then the yellow and green.
The north–south direction (M02) goes from 1 Częstochowa in Poland through 2 Staré Hory in Slovakia, 3 Esztergom, Pécs in Hungary, 4 Slavonski Brod, 5 Zenica in Croatia and to 6 Međugorje in Bosnia, covering a distance of about 1,400 km. It is a less marked route.
- Pilgrimage of Óhegy (Staré Hory) goes in the northern part of the main route "M02" from Plášťovce through Banská Štiavnica, Banská Bystrica, Staré Hory and Liptov to Zuberec in Slovakia, where the road splits, so that the two roads meet again in Poland. One of them continues to the shrine of Trstená and enters Poland towards Orawka and continues following the north-south main route towards Czestochowa. The other road touching Oravice and crosses the border at Zakopane and continues to the end point following the traditional Polish pilgrimage to Czestochowa.
The Benedictines Way (M04 or Bencés út) is just still planned in 2020. Its route is going in the planned direction from Vienna in Austria through Marianka in Slovakia, Máriakálnok, Győr and Andocs to Pécs in Hungary, covering a distance of about 450 km. The path was named after the Order of Saint Benedict.
The Path of Reconciliation (M80 or Kiengesztelődés útja) is just still planned in 2020. Its route is going in the planned direction from Levoča in Slovakia through 7 Mátraverebély, Máriabesnyő, 8 Pálosszentkút to 9 Szeged, covering a distance of about 600 km.
The connecting way (M05 or összekötő út) goes from Mariazell in Austria through 1 Marianka in Slovakia, Márianosztra, Máriabesnyő in Hungary, Târgu Mureș and 2 Zetea to Șumuleu Ciuc in Romania, covering a distance of about 1,450 km.
- Route of Udvarhelyszék (Udvarhelyszéki útvonal) goes in the eastern part of the main route "M05" from Praid, the starting point of the "last 100 kilometers of the Via Maria", through Lupeni to Șumuleu Ciuc in Romania, covering a distance of about 110 km and can be walked in 5 days.
The Orthodox Route Branch (M50 or ortodox ág) is only planned in 2020. Its route is projected to go from Levoča in Slovakia through Máriapócs in Hungary, Szatmátnémeti and Máramarossziget to Suceava in Romania, covering a distance of about 1,000 km.