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STAR TRAIL CHEMIN DES ÉTOILES

Project background

The European model project “Starry Path/Chemin des étoiles” was launched in 2006 by the Saarbrücken Regional Association. The aim was to give value to the local paths of the pilgrims of St. James across borders in a poetic way. The project was to explore how a cosmopolitan, tolerant European togetherness can be inspired by small gestures across a cultural route that is more than 1000 years old in a large-regional context.

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 pilgrims of St. James, which lead from Speyer, Worms and Mainz via Saarbrücken to Metz. In 2006, the Saarbrücken Regional Association launched the “Starry Path/Chémin des etoiles” valorization concept. The aim of the project was to develop a network of European ideas 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.

Participation

In order to facilitate identification with the period in which the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela originated and to strengthen regional identity, one focus of the project work is to record the evidence of medieval building culture along and in the immediate vicinity of the project area’s routes. This enables the municipalities to create regional “loops along the Starry Path” regardless of the main tourist routes and highlight their specific cultural heritage in the context of pilgrimage.

Since 2006, these cultural monuments have been successively adorned with a stone scallop shell and equipped with an information board. Local partners are also informed about the background to the model project as “sponsors” and the local website is linked to the Starry Path homepage.

If you would like to participate in the project yourself with a medieval monument, you can find information about the various offers and opportunities for participation here.

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 theme of pilgrimage. The European network concept inherent in the model project inspires people to think beyond their own church tower. In many cases, this results in synergy effects between neighboring communities and enthusiasm for local measures that also strengthen the sense of community among them.

Decorating the surfaces of the paths in the form of stars and ornaments made of fieldstone in the Saarpfalz district and the Saarbrücken region was another focus of the careful valorization of these rediscovered paths. The project is being implemented as part of qualification measures for jobseekers by the Zentrum für Bildung und Beruf Saar gGmbH in Burbach (ZBB) and the Gesellschaft für Arbeit und Qualifizierung mbH im 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 and the waymarks were digitized using our interactive map.

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 offers a special opportunity to live European values in encounters with people. Pilgrimage on the Starry Paths could become a ritual that conveys a humanist message and inspires people on an emotional level for the European community. To support this, we offer a selection of “guiding thoughts” that refer to a canon of values of being a responsible and creative human being, and which, as a spiritual source of inspiration, can complement being on the Starry Paths and accompany inner reflection. Poetic texts about being on the move can also be found in the illustrated book and the two “sound books” accompanying the model project.