Altötting – Heart of Bavaria – Shrine of EuropeThe pilgrimage town Altoetting is located in the lovely Upper-Bavarian Alpine region between Munich, Passau and Salzburg and at just a short distance to lake Chiemsee with the famous fairy tale castle Herrenchiemsee.
For more than 1250 years, this town has been the spiritual centre of Bavaria and for more than 500 years the most significant place of pilgrimage in Germany in veneration of the Virgin Mary. More than 1 million pilgrims and visitors per year seek the “Black Madonna”, a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary. Opposite the altar the hearts of the Bavarian Dukes, Kings and Electors are stored in richly decorated silver urns as a special sign of the deep and loyal ties to the Bavarian national Shrine. Among them also the heart of the fairy tale king Ludwig II.
Royal hearts in the pilgrimage town of AltöttingThe heart, or rather, the hearts of the Bavarian kingdom lie in Altötting. For the Chapel of Grace in the Upper Bavaria pilgrimage town has been the home of the hearts of the Bavarian kings, dukes and electors, kept in wonderfully decorated urns, since the 17th century. The chapel is home to 28 heart urns in total, many from the Wittelsbach dynasty. Here you can find the heart urns of Emperor Karl VII and Prince-elector Maximilian I, as well as the heart of the Fairytale King Ludwig II. During the "Customs and Traditions in the Heart of Bavaria" tour of the town, you can find out more about the custom of interring the hearts in the Chapel of Grace as a royal guard of honour. The "Blutweihebrief" represents a further precious relic held in the chapel: it contains the consecration formula of Prince-elector Maximilian I and is signed with his own blood.
But many aristocrats visited Altötting before their deaths. Countless numbers made the pilgrimage to the Chapel of Grace to pay their respects to the "Black Mother of God" and to pray. The tour of the town entitled "In the Footsteps of Emperors, Kings and Popes" looks into the relationship that Altötting had with the Bavarian kings. In the "Home of Pope Benedict XVI. – Treasure Chamber and Pilgrimage Museum", exhibits include the "Goldene Rössl" – a masterpiece of gold work from 1404, which Altötting received in 1509 as a settlement for war bonds from the Landshut War of Succession. This museum is also home to "Sisi's" bridal wreath and an enamelled portrait of Emperor Franz Joseph I. Tours of the exhibition can be arranged.
Today, Altoetting is a vibrating pilgrimage centre with festive church services, candlelight processions and around Pentecost the arrival of numerous pilgrimage groups on foot
A visit in Altoetting should include a visit to the Jerusalem Panorama – a monumental cyclorama showing the Crucifixion of Christ as well as the Treasury and Pilgrimage museum which houses the bridal wreath of the famous Austrian Empress “Sissi” which she donated to the Madonna of Altoetting. Guided city tours in the footsteps of Emperors, Kings and Popes in English are as well available.
The region around Altoetting can be explored by foot on one of the numerous pilgrimage routes like the St. James’s way or by bicycle on the Benedict trail, connecting the places where Pope em. Benedict XVI spent his childhood and youth.
Altoetting is also linked with the big Marian Pilgrimage Shrines in Europe (Lourdes, Fatima, Loreto, Czestochowa, Mariazell) as one of the “Shrines of Europe”.
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