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Via Francigena is the ancient route from Canterbury to Rome, followed by archbishops travelling to receive from the pope their symbols of authority as well as ordinary pilgrims en route to Rome or onward to Jerusalem. It was originally described by Archbishop Sigeric in AD990 and his route has been adopted by the Council of Europe Institute of Cultural Routes as the definitive way from Canterbury to Rome.
Today people of all ages and beliefs enjoy the physical challenge of this 1,200 mile journey. Starting at Canterbury Cathedral the entire journey will take approximately 12 weeks on foot, based on an average of between 15 and 25 miles per day. Crossing England, France, Switzerland and Italy you will climb to heights above 8,000 feet and be exposed to a wide range of weather conditions.
You can obtain a Via Francigena passport which will be stamped at the Information Centre in the cathedral precincts.
The Via Francigena starts beside the south porch of Canterbury Cathedral at the kilometre zero stone. Pilgrim Passports are stamped at the Information Centre in the Cathedral Precincts.
Leave the Cathedral via the Christchurch Gate and turn left onto Burgate and continue along Church Street and Longport, beside St Augustine's Abbey.
After passing North Holmes Road and St Martin's Church, turn right onto Pilgrim's Way and begin to follow the signs for the North Downs Way.
The pathway to Dover is nearly 20 miles long and will take between seven and eight hours on foot.
The pathway offers opportunities to return to Canterbury by train using the stations at Bekesbourne, Adisham, Aylesham, Sherpherdswell and Dover Priory.
Mountain bikers and horse-riders can also use the route as far as Shepherdswell where they are advised to follow National Cycle Route 16 to avoid the many stiles.
Walking holidays including the Kentish stretch of the Via Francigena can be booked through a local company Walkawhile.
Canterbury to Rome
TR 151578 51.27878 1.08343
The Cathedral is located in the centre of Canterbury, within walking distance of both Canterbury East and West stations. Canterbury is only 30 minutes drive from Dover (continental ferries) and Folkestone (Eurotunnel), making it an ideal stop-over en route to London. Fast speed trains bring passengers from Canterbury to London within 56 minutes.
: 1 mile from Canterbury East/West station