The History of Via Francigena

After Claudius Caesar led the second Roman invasion in AD43 a network of roads was built to connect Rome with the province of Britannia. Canterbury (Durovernum) lay on Watling Street, at an intersection that connected the heart of Britain to the vital ports of Dover and Richborough, and the military and trade routes running through Gaul to Rome.

The connection between Rome and Canterbury was sealed in AD596 when Pope Gregory the Great responded to a request from Ethelbert, the King of Kent, to dispatch Christian missionaries. St Augustine led the mission which arrived in 597and succeeded in converting the King and 10,000 of his subjects. St Augustine was consecrated as the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and in AD601 was granted formal jurisdiction over the church for the whole of Britain.

The road to Rome became a thoroughfare for clerics, kings and merchants, but also for members of the public. These people would make their pilgrimage to the resting places of St Peter and St Paul, often continuing by land and sea to Jerusalem, making it the most important pilgrim route in medieval Europe.

The road from Canterbury to Rome has had many names:Via Romea, Lombard Way, Iter Francorum, and the Frankish Route, but by the end of the 9th century it was identified as the via Francigena.

In AD990, Archbishop Sigeric the Serious travelled the length of the Via Francigena to receive the Pallium from Pope John VX. A member of his retinue recorded his route, listing the 80 principal stopping places.

After the reformation, pilgrimages between northern and southern Europe became less important and, as a consequence, parts of the Via Francigena fell into disuse, other sections became absorbed into the national road networks.

map of the Via Francigena Route

The Route

Find out about the route of the Via Francigena ancient walking route.

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pilrims on walking route

Modern Day Pilgrimage

Start your modern day pilgrimage in the beautiful city of Canterbury.

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What's On

 June 2015>

26 June 2015 to 17 July 2015

Room for Negotiation at Herbert Read GalleryFri 26 Jun - Fri 17 Jul 2015This exhibition is concerned with spatial relationships, interdisciplinary practices, and the negotiation of space itself.

01 April 2015 to 01 September 2015

New Park Trails! at Westgate GardensWed 1 Apr - Tue 1 Sep 2015Pick up our Spring and Summer trail sheets from the Canterbury Umbrella Centre, St. Peter's Street, Canterbury 10am - 3pm Monday - Saturday from 1st April to 1st September.

29 June 2015 to 05 July 2015

Pauline Doney and Friends at Bay ART GalleryMon 29 Jun - Sun 5 Jul 2015Pauline Doney and friends. Paintings, acrylics and watercolours.

30 June 2015 to 30 June 2015

Walk and Talk at The Kings HallTue 30 Jun 2015Now that nicer weather is here, why not join our weekly walks along the beautiful sea front? Enjoy the fresh air and get some gentle exercise too!

18 May 2015 to 23 August 2015

The Ancestors at Canterbury CathedralMon 18 May - Sun 23 Aug 2015This summer a collection of the Cathedral's earliest and most important examples of stained glass will go on public display. The Ancestors will exhibit a series of life-size figures representing the Ancestors of Christ.

30 June 2015 to 30 June 2015

Man of Iron (12A) at Gulbenkian CinemaTue 30 Jun 2015As the Solidarity protests swelled in 1980, Andrzej Wajda grabbed camera and crew, pulled ready-made characters off the shelf and filmed this masterful story of government-backed espionage.

24 June 2015 to 07 July 2015

Canterbury Society of Art Summer Exhibition at Horsebridge Arts and Community CentreWed 24 Jun - Tue 7 Jul 2015Canterbury Society of Art, founded in 1968, is a group of local artists, both professional and amateur. They promise a wide selection of style and media by both new and established members.

24 June 2015 to 30 June 2015

Colour Me: Jessica Willows at Horsebridge Arts and Community CentreWed 24 - Tue 30 Jun 2015A collection of vibrant, colourful and bold statement pieces which are also deeply meaningful as there are words hidden beneath the layers of paint.

06 June 2015 to 06 September 2015

Canterbury in the Age of the Magna Carta at The Beaney House of Art & KnowledgeSat 6 Jun - Sun 6 Sep 2015This exhibition, organised in partnership with Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Canterbury Christ Church University sets the ground-breaking document in the context of Canterbury's people and places. I

09 May 2015 to 23 August 2015

Home and Away: Eduardo Paolozzi's General Dynamic at The Beaney House of Art & KnowledgeSat 9 May - Sun 23 Aug 2015Bringing together two bodies of work by British artists from the second half of the 1960s. General Dynamic F.U.N. is one of Eduardo Paolozzi’s great print series and Tony Ray-Jones was drawing on the example of the new American photography.

01 May 2015 to 31 August 2015

Armchair Artist in Residence - Rob Turner at The Beaney House of Art & KnowledgeFri 1 May - Mon 31 Aug 2015Rob will be making a series of new maps to form a local travelogue or living history inspired by the maps in The Beaney and Local Studies Collections.

01 May 2015 to 30 September 2015

Make a Flying Exotic Bird at The Beaney House of Art & KnowledgeFri 1 May - Wed 30 Sep 2015Create your own flying bird using foam and feathers. Can you make it fly from one end of the gallery to the other?

23 June 2015 to 04 July 2015

Barnum at The Marlowe TheatreTue 23 Jun - Sat 4 Jul 2015Barnum's the name, P T Barnum, and I want to tell you that tonight, on this stage, you are going to see - bar none - every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!

17 June 2016 to 17 June 2016

Philharmonia Orchestra at The Marlowe TheatreFri 17 Jun 2016Philharmonia At The Movies: Soundtracks From The Oscars.

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