Selånger Centre: The start of the world’s most northern pilgrimage
By Hanna Andersson | Photos: Selånger Pilgrimscenter
In the Selånger valley, you’ll find windy landscapes and untouched nature – and also, the start of the world’s most northerly pilgrimage. The trail starts at the Selånger Centre by the Baltic Sea in the north-east of Sweden and takes travellers all the way to the Atlantic Sea in Trondheim, western Norway, welcoming hundreds of pilgrims every year.
“The trail is 580 kilometres long and is the most northerly pilgrim trail in the world. Pilgrims of 54 different nationalities have been here to experience the hike, and we love to see our centre welcome all kinds of people, who are all on their individual journeys,” says Helene Westerlind, manager at the Selånger Pilgrim Centre.
“The trail is special in many ways,” she adds, “but particularly because it includes both the barren mountains of Norway and the flowing fields of Sweden. You really get to see the contrasts and the theatre that is nature.”
As well as being the starting point of the trail, the centre is a community that invites guests to rest, explore the landscape, and get to know the history. You can enjoy the local cuisine in the restaurant while looking out over the landscape and spotting pilgrims heading towards their adventures.
“This meeting point allows our visitors to learn more about the story of the land, and to socialise. We have a restaurant that is open all year round, as well as conference rooms and a museum that tells the story of Olav Haraldsson, the Viking who headed to Norway to claim the Norwegian crown in 1030. He was killed in Stiklestad and later canonised as Saint Olav,” Westerlind explains.
The fate of Saint Olav became the beginning of pilgrimage in the north, and the centre tells the story of how the Swedish beliefs switched from the Norse Gods to Christianity, as well as how this has affected life today.
“Saints have had an impact on our calendars, traditions and culture. It is an exciting story that really captures our way of life,” Westerlind concludes.
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