The purpose of every guidebook is not only to show the right way or to give the most important tips but also to create a certain significant context which will give walking in an unknown area a different dimension and enrich both intellectually and spiritually. In 2011 Nicolaus Copernicus University Publishing House published a book entitled Camino de Santiago – not Only the Way,1 in which we attempted to inscribe our local Camino Polaco (the Polish Way) in the European tradition of St. James, indicating historical, theological and regional aspects. It was, as it were, the first step, which was quickly followed by others.
This time we would like to offer the reader a publication which might be of practical use to those who plan to follow the Way of St. James (Camino Polaco) in Kuyavian-Pomeranian Province. This is not a novelty on St. James’s Routes. The first guidebook to the Camino de Santiago – Liber Sancti Iacobi – was written in the 12th century and described in detail the trails and situations which a wanderer could encounter.
Our guidebook has a similar purpose and the idea was born in the academic circles of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, in cooperation with numerous organisations which are working actively on the popularisation of the Way of St. James in the region: the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Marshal’s Office, the Golub‑Dobrzyń Tourist Organisation, The Chopin Centre in Szafarnia, the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society (PTTK) in Toruń and local governments. The guidebook is a part of a wider promotional project realised thanks to EU funding by the Golub-Dobrzyń Tourist Organisation, which would like to popularise the Way of St. James in our region through professional publications (brochures, guidebooks and maps) and new technologies (computer games and internet websites).
A pilgrim of the Way of St. James has almost 255 kilometres of Camino Polaco in Kuyavia and Pomerania ahead of him. The Trail is full of remarkable places, silent witnesses of great moments of history but also works of art and the experience of faith of many generations of inhabitants who were living on those lands expressed by numerous churches and chapels scattered along the Polish Way of St. James.
It is worth devoting some attention to reminding pilgrims of the fundamental rules associated with making a pilgrimage on the Way of St. James in Poland, the system of signs, its history and practical tips how to prepare for the walk. The first part of our guidebook is devoted to those issues. The second part contains a detailed description of each of the suggested stages, illustrated with specially prepared maps which should be helpful in following the route. The reader will find useful information concerning accommodation, places worth visiting and Holy Mass times in churches on the Way of St. James. The final part of the guidebook, which serves as an epilogue, consists of interviews with people to whom the idea of the Camino is very dear, the index of saints associated with the Way of St. James, a basic bibliography and internet links to websites devoted to the Camino.