via regia – the road

So what exactly is the via regia? And why is there so much interest in an ancient trade route?

Roads, above all the great inter-regional routes, bring us together: they pave the way for the exchange of goods and merchandise, ideas, languages and traditions. Roads pass through cities and countries which prosper and decline along their route, and through the dominions of successive rulers. They have had to suffer the depredations of mighty military forces, but have also allowed pilgrims to pass peacefully on their way. People were, and still are, persecuted, dispossessed and driven to seek refuge on the road – others set out of their own free will in search of work, new meaning or change in their lives, and for innumerable other reasons which continue to play as significant a role in the present as they did in the past. Roads – like rivers – are vital arteries. If they are cut, or cannot pass through frontiers, then rifts occur. Entire areas and regions become disconnected. Such connections are essential for the creation of new channels of communication, and new models and developments. Whether these are in trade, transport or academia, art and culture, they open up new horizons. This holds true for the Via Regia; its major historical significance stems from its role in connecting the trading areas of Thuringia and Saxony in the West with Silesia, Bohemia and Poland in the East. As part of a Europe-wide network of trade routes which developed over many centuries, it also provided links to more distant destinations at all points of the compass, including Spain and Ukraine. Its most historically significant section lies between Erfurt, Leipzig and Wrocław, or when viewed in a wider context, between Frankfurt am Main and Krakow. Today, the via regia has a new role as one of the Council of Europe cultural routes, extending from Kiev to Santiago de Compostela.

The via regia also offers a route to the future. Prospects for the via regia of today are being explored within the European Union programme. This includes planning and extending transport routes along the via regia, and development of the ED-C III European Development Corridor strategy as an initiative of community and regional partners in Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.


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Third Saxon State Exhibition via regia – 800 Years of Movement and Mobility
21. Mai bis 31. Oktober 2011