As in earlier times, pilgrims today start their pilgrimage through Switzerland at the lake-port of Rorschach, arriving there by boat from Friedrichshafen. They come from Germany, but also from the more distant countries of Eastern Europe. They are joined by pilgrims from Switzerland who want to start their pilgrimage from here. The route takes them from Lake Constance to the town of St.Gallen, then to Herisau in the Canton of Appenzell, and through its typical hill-country to the Toggenburg region. Further on to Lake Zürich, either to the town of Rapperswil, or to Schmerikon on the banks of the Upper Lake Zürich. Those who go to Rapperswil will cross the lake on the wooden pilgrim’s footbridge to reach Einsiedeln on a mountain path via St.Meinrad at the Etzel pass. Those who turn off at Schmerikon bypass the lake through the plain of the Linth river, come to Lachen on Lake Zürich, then follow the route that pilgrims to Einsiedeln normally use, and go up to St.Meinrad at the Etzel pass where they join the route Rapperswil – Einsiedeln of the Way of St. James. The Way of St. James takes the pilgrims through towns and bigger communities along quiet lanes in residential quarters, and lanes in town centres, many of the places having a long pilgrim tradition, past beautiful cathedrals and town churches and many noteworthy sites of cultural and historical interest. Outside these strongly populated and in part industrialised places, the pilgrims come through a countryside characterized by agriculture and fruit cultivation, on quiet field and forest paths through meadows, woods and wooded brook ravines. They walk through narrow and wide valleys with either still or flowing water, along the slopes of the gentle hilly landscape until up to mountain chains and passes where the physical exertion is rewarded with a wonderful outlook. Along the route, you will pass well-groomed farmsteads and old inns, also former pilgrim’s hostels. You come to hamlets and villages with well cared-for houses and gardens, and you will also meet with industrious and amiable residents with whom you can strike up a conversation, often over a refreshing drink.
The brief route descriptions were compiled in unpaid work by helpers and association members, based on their own experience when walking the routes, and based on the situation as encountered at that time. The accuracy of the contents, and especially their accordance with the official markings of the Way of St. James, cannot be guaranteed, also in the sense of a product guarantee, by the authors and the association “jakobsweg.ch”. Therefore if you notice deviations, we ask you in each case to please follow the official signposting for the Way of St. James, and to advise us of possible errors. Thank you.
Texts: Winfried Erbach, Joe Weber and Klaus Augustiny (manuscript reader). Translated from German by Hans Bamert Pictures: Wolfgang Hörer / Winfried Erbach and others.