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A place of power and longing: Mariazell

The Styrian pilgrimage town has a long and sweet tradition

Mariazell is a place of power and longing, a pilgrimage site, and an oasis of culinary delights. Hardly anyone leaves the pilgrimage town without a piece of its famous gingerbread and a bottle of herbal liqueur in their luggage. A true success story.

Of the many legends associated with Mariazell, the story of its founding is particularly fascinating. It is said that in 1157, monk Magnus from St. Lambrecht was sent to the region as a pastor. In his luggage: a statue of the Virgin Mary made from lime wood. When a large rock blocked his path, he asked Mother Mary for help. As if by magic, the rock split in half and cleared the way. Grateful, the monk settled down on a nearby hill and built a wooden cell which served both as a chapel for the statue of Mary he had brought with him and as his dwelling place. "Maria in der Zelle" (literally: "Mary in the cell") should later become "Mariazell".

From chapel to basilica

The chapel has since grown into an impressive basilica. Its core: The "Magna Mater Austriae", a famous image of grace created from monk Magnus' wooden statue of Mary. Then as now, it is the destination of numerous pilgrims who make their way to Mariazell. The initially Romanesque church was later rebuilt into a Gothic church which was converted to Baroque style in the 17th century. In 1907, the church was elevated to the status of "basilica minor" by the pope. Its two striking Baroque towers and the Gothic central tower shape the basilica's appearance to this day. Just as famous as the church itself is the square in front of its gates, where, among other things, the famous Mariazell Advent takes place every year.

Mariazell and gingerbread

It is no coincidence that gingerbread has such a long tradition in Mariazell. Rather, it has practical reasons that the sweet delicacy became such a popular souvenir. Pilgrims need energy. And there is plenty of that in gingerbread. It is a soft and nutritious treat that keeps well and can easily be stowed in a backpack. The perfect conditions for a success story. To this day, Mariazell gingerbread is considered one of the best in the country. And if you ever eat a little too much of it, you can treat yourself to a glass of the famous Mariazell herbal liqueur.