Pope Benedict’s coming visit to Germany from September 9 to September 14 highlights the beauty of the Bavarian countryside as well as a new biking trail that connects the places where Benedict XVI spent his early and later childhood. The Benedict trail is 224 kilometers long and extends through Upper Bavaria and around the Rivers Inn and Salzach to the beautiful Chiemgau region with its gem-like Lake Chiem.

To start your cycling trip, fly into Munich and take a short train ride with its scenic views of the Bavarian countryside to Altoetting. From there you can start your biking trip, by renting a bike for 5 Euros per day and cycle down the Benedict trail through its beautiful little towns. In every town you will find romantic inns (pensions and B&Bs) where you can rest and relax after a day of cycling. To order an excursion map with all the cycling trails please go to www.benediktweg.info

The trail begins in the pilgrimage town of Altoetting at the linden tree planted by Pope John Paul II in 1980. Altoetting is nestled in the beautiful Alpine hills of upper Bavaria between Munich, Passau and Salzburg. For over 1,250 years, the lovely baroque town has been the most important place of pilgrimage in Germany associated with the Virgin Mary. Every year, over one million pilgrims and visitors come to see and worship the “Black Madonna.” www.altoetting.de

The other main points of interest along the Benedict biking trail include the Pope’s birthplace in Marktl am Inn, where he was born 79 years ago; his places of residence in Tittmoning, Aschau and Traunstein. Between these points, cyclists can enjoy the historic cities of Neuoetting with its 15th century parish church; the old ducal town of Burghausen with its fortress towering over the River Salzach; Muehlendorf and Wasserburg, a charming medieval trading city. Beautiful scenery, farming villages, churches and monasteries dot the countryside. Some of the most impressive of these monasteries are the 1146 Cistercian Abbey and its Baroque Church and art treasures in Raitenhaslach; the former Benedictine monastery in Seeon, the Benedictine monastery on the island of Frauenchiemsee and the monasteries in Gars and Au on the River Inn.

Other places in Bavaria associated with Pope Benedict and which he will visit include the beautiful medieval city of Regensburg, newly elected this summer as a World Heritage Site. Pope Benedict also served as professor and vice president of the University of Regensburg. The Pope will celebrate a solemn mass in the Munich cathedral (Frauenkirche) on September 10th: and he will visit the nearby Freising where he studied at the University of Theology and was ordained into the priesthood in 1951.