Religious Tourism Boosts Up

Although it is perceived as one of Europe?s most atheist countries the Czech Republic has an impressive network of cathedrals, basilicas, chapels and, even a church museum. Apparently, sacral tourism is also fast gaining ground in the Czech Republic.
Czechs offer complete lists of pilgrimage sites, cloisters, churches and chapels that are visitor-friendly and offer more than the chance to attend mass or admire the church?s interior. Many of these places offer traditional guided tours by the priests themselves or by young tour guides. The Klokoty pilgrimage site has gone even further to attract visitors from at home and abroad. It offers a children?s corner, snacks, souvenirs and even free internet access. Guided tours in several languages are something taken for granted.
Although much of the sacral tourism is naturally centered in Prague the list of regional churches and pilgrimage sites is getting longer all the time, with South Bohemia being a popular destination both for foreign tourists and Czechs. Many of them visit churches and chapels as they visit the country?s castles and chateaux.
Guides have started specializing in sacral tourism and as more sacral sites around the country get involved the list of theme tours is growing. Recognizing the potential in sacral tourism the government agency CzechTourism has recently issued brochures in Italian and Spanish promoting the country?s most attractive pilgrimage sites. The upcoming 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia in 2013 is perceived as an important international event that is expected to attract hundreds of believers from Italy, Spain and Latin America but also from many other countries.
Based on an agreement between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, the nationwide celebrations will emphasize the unity of Christians. The celebrations will include a "Meeting of Cultures" in Mikulčice, organized by the Orthodox Church, and the traditional "Days of People of Goodwill" at Velehrad, organized by the Roman Catholic Church.
There are suggestions to establish a religious pilgrimage trail following in the footsteps of the two saints and this would naturally include traditional places connected with the Cyril-Methodian mission in the Czech Republic. The anniversary is expected to give sacral tourism a big boost and the fact that Parliament recently approved a law on the return of church property that has opened the way to the full independence of churches in the Czech Republic is likely to strengthen this trend even further.


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