Papal walking trails in Małopolska
In the Małopolska Region, there are a number of trails and routes that commemorate the hiking trips of the Polish priest, cardinal and Pope, Karol Wojtyła. They are an answer to the plea of John Paul II expressed in the words Pilnujcie mi tych szlaków… – Look after these trails for me (Nowy Targ, 1979). The first Papal Trail in Poland was established by the highlanders in 1983, following the visit of John Paul II to the Tatra Mountains and his hike along the yellow trail from the PTTK shelter in the Chochołowska clearing (later named after the Pope) to the Jarząbcza valley. The Papal Trails were established and marked on a large scale in all mountain ranges in Małopolska in 2003, on the 25th Anniversary of the pontificate of the Polish Pope. They present an opportunity to follow the traces of the Pope’s hikes and to visit the places that were particularly close to his heart. Cardinal Wojtyła’s mountain tourism was joyful, but at the same time calm and reflective. In the mountains, he would rest actively while walking and skiing, he would contemplate and admire the nature and landscape - the beauty of God’s creation. He would walk on his own or in the company of a small group of friends: Kraków’s young intelligentsia, priests and university professors. Papal Trails run mostly along the traditional tourist routes (PTTK) which already existed at the time of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła. Points of interest are additionally marked with information boards and signs. There are also a few commemorative routes designed for cars, such as the “Sursum Corda” Pope Route, which follows the steps of John Paul II’s 1997 car journey from Zakopane to Ludźmierz. It is also worth taking “Maryjny Szlak Papieski Złotej Róży”, which leads from Kraków to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, then on to Wadowice, Sucha Beskidzka, Maków Podhalański, Jordanów, Spytkowice, Raba Wyżna and finally to Ludźmierz. Karol Wojtyła’s passion for canoeing has been commemorated through the creation of the Pope’s water trail in Pieniny. The future Pope used to traverse the famously difficult Dunajec River Gorge in a canoe.
Foundation of Pope’s Routes, ul. Bochnaka 2, Kraków, phone: +48 12 654 9096, www.szlakipapieskie.pl.
PTTK Tourist Information Centre, ul. Jagiellońska 6, Kraków, phone: +48 12 422 2840, www.cotg.pttk.pl.