Krakow hosts 1st International Congress of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimages

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The 1st International Congress of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimages “Following the Footsteps of the Saint Pope John Paul II” will take place in Krakow, from 8th to 12th November 2017. It is an event that aims to promote Poland and Central/Eastern Europe as a religious tourism destination.

Krakow and Malopolska Region have a great potential as a religious tourism and pilgrimage destination. Every year they are visited by millions of pilgrims and religious tourists, just let us mention the last World Youth Day which took place here in Krakow in 2016. These numbers are reflected in city’s and country’s profits and also new work places.

“We think there is a space and need to organize a new event in Krakow: a branch meeting of specialists from the religious tourism and pilgrimages market” – says Ernest Miroslaw, the organizer of the Congress, the owner of a local incoming tour operator Ernesto Travel which is a leader in religious tourism. “Currently no such event is organized in Central- and Eastern Europe. I think it can be a perfect preparative before the 2018 UNWTO conference which will also be held in Krakow and will be dedicated to the religious tourism. We have participated in many similar congresses and conferences; this time we hope to welcome here in Krakow and Malopolska Region several hundred persons from the branch: specialists, tour operators, tour agents, priests and others operating in the religious tourism and pilgrimage market” – says Dominika from Ernesto Travel, the initiator of the Congress.

The Congress will be opened on the 9th November, by the both secular and clerical authorities of Krakow. An opening Holy Mass will be celebrated at the John Paul II Centre, followed by speeches, lectures and a workshop with the representatives of the local sanctuaries and tourist attractions. 10th and 11th November will be a chance for the guests from around the world to visit Krakow and Malopolska Region (Krakow Old Town, John Paul II Center, Divine Mercy Sanctuary, Salt Mine in Wieliczka, former German Nazi Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the church and museum of Wadowice – Karol Wojtyla’s birthplace, the Basilic in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and of course the Black Madonna Sanctuary in Czestochowa).

The Congress aims to be a meeting place between the tour operators and the local providers as well as to promote Krakow and Malopolska Region as an important religious tourism and pilgrimage destination not only in Europe, but also worldwide, finally to strengthen the importance of religious tourism within the tourism market.

The organizers welcome foreign tour agents and tour operators, bloggers and journalists, bishops and priests as well as other religious tourism and pilgrimage organizers such as diocesan coordinators or the leaders of foundations and congregations.

1st INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF RELIGIOUS TOURISM AND PILGRIMAGES
KRAKOW, POLAND 8-12.11.2017
FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF SAINT JOHN PAUL II

8.11, Wed Day 1. Arrivals to Krakow
all day Arrivals to Krakow. Check-in at one of the hotels: Hotel Galaxy 4****, Park Inn 4****, Plus Q 4**** or similar *** or **** centrally located. Free time. Overnight in Krakow. No dinner included.

9.11, Thu Day 2. Krakow – Lagiewniki – Krakow

7.00 Buffet breakfast at the hotel.

8.00 Transfer to the John Paul II Center.

9.00 Holy Mass with Krakow Church authorities, at the Sanctuary of Saint John Paul II in Krakow, Totus Tuus 32 street.

10.00 Congress opening ceremony – His Eminence Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, secretary of Saint John Paul II.

10.15 Congress opening ceremony – prof. Jacek Majchrowski, the President of Krakow.

10.30 Congress opening ceremony – Jacek Krupa, Marshal of the Małopolska Region.

11.00 World Youth Day – preparation, performance, impact on the city – a Town Hall representative’s speech.

11.15 The religious tourism and pilgrimages in Krakow and Poland – a speech by Ernest Mirosław, the director of Ernesto Travel – the leading incoming tour operator in Poland.

12.00 Expo fair session – an opportunity to meet the local attractions representatives: santuaries, local tourism offices, places of interest.

14.00 Lunch.

15.00 Visit of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary. „the Divine Mercy will save the World!”. In a place where Faustina Kowalska spent a part of her life, next to the convent, a sanctuary was built. It now houses the famous picture „Jesus, I trust in you” and also the relics of St Faustina Kowalska. The sanctuary was founded by John Paul II and is nowadays amongst the most important sanctuaries in Poland and Europe.

16.30 Visit of Krakow with a local guide. The old capital of the Polish Kingdom, one of the Europe’s biggest empires in the Middle Ages: we will walk up the Wawel Hill to see the Royal Castle and the Cathedral – the place of coronation and last resting of many Polish kings. Also here, in the Roman Cript of Saint Leonard, Fr. Karol Wojtyla celebrated his first holy mass on the 2nd November 1946. We will continue to the Old Town with its lively Main Market Square Rynek – the biggest medieval market square in Europe, embellished by many monuments, including the Cloth Hall Sukiennice and the Saint Mary Church with its fine wooden altar carved by the medieval master, Wit Stwosz. We will continue to places related with Fr. Wojtyla, Franciscan Church with a bench where he used to pray and the nearby Papal Window where he used to talk with the youth who gathered below, during his pilgrimages to Poland. Krakow Old Town was declared the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978.

20.00 Dinner with a klezmer music concert. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Krakow.

10.11, Fri Day 3. Krakow – Auschwitz-Birkenau – Wieliczka – Krakow

6.30 Buffet breakfast at the hotel.

7.00 Transfer to Oswiecim (Auschwitz in German).

8.30 Guided tour at the former German Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The camp was built by Nazis during the German occupation of Poland. More than a million people from different nationalities were killed in this place, the majority of Jewish origin. Today this place is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

11.30 Transfer to Wieliczka.

13.30 Lunch.

15.00 We visit Wieliczka to see the oldest salt mine in Europe. Wieliczka is a unique place where many generations of Polish miners have created an underground world of tunnels and underground salt lakes with a rich interior of decorated chapels including the famous Blessed Kings Chapel, plus other galleries and works made of salt. Wieliczka is one the most beautiful places listed by UNESCO in Poland.

20.00 Gala dinner in the Cloth Hall – invited by the President Prof. Jacek Majchrowski. Overnight in Krakow.

11.11, Sat Day 4. Krakow – Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – Wadowice – Czestochowa – Krakow

7.00 Buffet breakfast at the hotel.

7.30 Transfer to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.

9.00 Visit at the Bernardine Monastery in Kalwaria, the 3rd most famous shrine in Poland. The whole Mannerist complex (including the sanctuary and a park) is also listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Karol Wojtyla would visit this place since his childhood, keeped coming even as a Pope.

10.30 Visit to the Parish church of Wadowice where Karol Wojtyla was baptised. Continue to the museum of John Paul II, recently renovated and reopened, a place that tells the story of the Greatest of the Poles, from his early years in small multicultural town of Wadowice until his last days as a bishop of Rome.

12.30 Lunch.

14.00 Transfer to Czestochowa.

16.00 The sanctuary of Black Madonna with its famous painting (said to be the work of St John) is a symbolic place for all the Poles. Along many, sometimes difficult, centuries of the Polish country, the Polish arrived and still arrive here to ask for help of the Blessed Virgin. The Mother of God was pronounced the Queen of Poland by the King John Casimirus in the 17th century. It is one of the main European pilgrimage destinations, receiving between 3 and 4 million of pilgrims every year. The Sanctuary is also a fortress, an interesting architectural complex.

18.00 Return to Krakow.

20.00 Dinner with a show of Polish folclore. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Krakow.

12.11, Sun Day 5. The departures

morning Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Check out.