Petersberger Bittweg

Bittweg, procession way at Petersberg
Bittweg, procession way at Petersberg

The German word “Bittweg” translates as procession way. For centuries, the chapel on Mount Petersberg has been a place of pilgrimage. So, the locals and pilgrims walked up here on church holidays, praying all along the way. Hence the name “Petersberger Bittweg”.

Once there were four such procession ways, starting from different villages around Mount Petersberg. However, only the one from Königswinter has remained.

It begins at the end of Königswinter-city near the L331 country road, “Petersberger Bittweg”. The street turns into a hiking path and goes steeply up the hill. All along the way up, you, pass stone crucifixes from the 17th and 18th century. Twelve of the once 14 stations have remained. Many of them were made from latite, some older ones have a base made of trachyte.

Curious things occurred on the Bittweg, too. For example, Johanna Kinkel, the wife of the 1848er revolutionary Gottfried Kinkel, wrote about a procession with counter-procession, as we would perhaps say today. Two processions were on the way up to the chapel on Petersberg, the farmers and the winegrowers. While the farmers asked for rain, the winegrowers asked for even more sun. They insulted each other and even got rough.

Today the Bittweg is mainly a hiking trail, and processions have become rather rare even in the Catholic Rhineland. It is hard to imagine what it was like in times of hardships, when people went up all along the Bittweg to Mount Petersberg, praying and hoping.

The years that the locals set up these crucifixes correlate with years of wars and plagues in the Rhineland. Let us hope that many prayers were answered.

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