Pilgrimage Tour to Eastern Europe from Krakow through Vienna to Budapest
Take a retreat from everyday life to visit some of the most spiritually significant places in Eastern Europe together with other most recognizable attractions of this part of the old continent. See the remarkable churches of Krakow and the UNESCO-enlisted Wieliczka Salt Mine with its underground chapels, get an insight into the life of John Paul II as you explore his hometown - Wadowice, allow yourself to quietly contemplate the harrowing site of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and learn about the sacrifice of Saint Maximilian Kolbe then continue further to Vienna and it's religious and architectural wonders. As you finish your journey in Budapest you'll be richer in experience and knowledge of both the cultural and spiritual.
Day 1 - Krakow
Arrival in Krakow. Accommodation and dinner at the hotel.
Day 2 - Krakow - Wieliczka
morning Guided visit of Krakow including the Old Town with its Market Square (the largest medieval square in Europe) where you can listen to the famous signal that is played every hour from the tower of St. Mary’ Church (visit to its altar - one of the largest Gothic altar in Europe). In this church Karol Wojtyla was a confessor from 1952 until 1957). Continue on to the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), Jagiellonian University - where Karol Wojtyla was studying, Collegium Maius, the Wawel Castle with its cathedral (presenting rich Polish history) - in a crypt of Saint Leonard young Karol Wojtyla celebrated his first Mass where he took as his motto “Totus Tuus”. On the program also: the Palace of the Krakow’ Archbishops where John Paul II lived as the bishop and archbishop of Krakow, the Franciscan Church - opposite the Archbishop’s palace where the Pope often came to pray.
afternoon Wieliczka Salt Mine a unique, UNESCO-enlisted, relic of European medieval technology. You will discover a one-of-a-kind underground world that was created hundreds of years ago. Take an unforgettable guided walk along the 3-kilometer-long tourist route 135 meters underground, through the chambers and chapels hollowed out from the rock salt, foremost among them in terms of its ornate beauty and size St Kinga’s Chapel.
evening Return to Krakow. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 - Wadowice - Lagiewniki
morning We leave for Wadowice, the birthplace of St John Paul II. We will pray in the parish church where the future saint was baptized and visit the John Paul II biographical museum in his family home. From here we go on to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. The basilica here and the 42 wayside chapels and shrines that crown the hill are one of the foremost centers of pilgrimage in Poland. Karol Wojtyła made many pilgrimages here as a boy, and later as a priest, bishop, and ultimately as pope. Kalwaria has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in view of its historic value.
afternoon “The world needs the love of God. ” A visit to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy of God.
The Pope during his stay in Poland in August 2002 proclaimed the International Shrine of Divine Mercy. Next to the old church where the sister Saint Faustina is buried, rises a new basilica. Near the basilica, there is the highest point of Krakow, a tower of over 80 m height. The largest mass is held on the second Sunday after Easter, the Sunday of Divine Mercy. A Holy Mass in the chapel.
evening Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 4 - Krakow – Auschwitz – Vienna
morning & afternoon Departure from Krakow for Vienna. En route a guided tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, where over a million people, most of them Jewish, were murdered by the Nazis in the gas chambers during World War II. We will see the starvation cell in which St Maksymilian Kolbe lost his life, and the ruins of the gas chambers where the Christian-Jewish patron saint of Europe, Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) perished.
Holy Mass in the Franciscan St Maksymilian Centre in Birkenau – Harmeze.
evening Transfer to Vienna. Check-in and dinner in your hotel.
Day 5 - Vienna
morning Tour of Vienna by bus; highlights: the Opera House, the Heldenplatz (Heroes Square), the City Hall, and the Parliament building. This will be followed by a walking tour, during which we will see landmarks including the imperial palace (Hofburg), and St Stephen’s Cathedral.
afternoon Sightseeing of the Schönbrunn Palace, one of the imperial residences. We will also see the two fairy-tale houses designed by the famous Viennese artist Hundertwasser.
evening Dinner and night in your hotel in Vienna.
(Possibility of attending Mass at one of Vienna’s churches)
Day 6 - Melk - Mariazell
morning Departure to Melk abbey - a remarkable medieval Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk, overlooking the Danube river. The abbey contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria's first ruling dynasty as well as an impressive library. The abbey became an inspiration for Umberto Eco's novel - "The Name of the Rose".
afternoon We continue further to the city of Mariazell. A visit to the Mariazell Basilica - the most important pilgrimage destination in Austria and one of the most visited shrines in Europe. The basilica holds a late romanesque miraculous image of the Virgin Mary.
evening Accommodation, dinner, and overnight in Mariazell.
Day 7 - Mariazell - Budapest
morning Departure from Mariazell to Budapest.
afternoon Arrival to Budapest, hotel check-in and free time to relax after the journey or explore the city on your own.
evening Optional: a trip to the Szechenyi thermal baths. Dinner and night in your hotel in Budapest.
Day 8 - Budapest
morning We begin our day with a river cruise on the Danube and a panorama of the city from the citadel on Gellert Hill. We will see the Royal Palace and the Old Town in historic Buda, including the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
afternoon We head over the Danube to Pest for some free time on the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, Vaci Utca. After a visit to St Stephen’s Cathedral and a ride over to Heroes’ Square, we will take a walk to Vajadahunyad Castle.
evening Dinner and night in your hotel in Budapest.
(Possibility of attending Mass at one of Budapest’s churches)
Day 9 - Budapest
Check-out from your hotel, transfer to the airport, and flight or coach home (depending on the mode of transport chosen).