Long before Airbnb, weary pilgrims sought room and board in monasteries and convents, exchanging spiritual devotion and a few alms for respite in sacred surrounds.
A newly launched travel resource encourages a return to those ancient predecessors of the couch-surfing experience: Klášterní stezky (Monastery Trails), created by the Teaching Faculty at Charles University, aims to promote Czech convents and monasteries as overlooked tourist destinations.
“Monasteries are…a group of monuments, which attract not only those interested in culture but also admirers of technical and natural monuments. Therefore [our] site provides a simple signpost for you…where to find practical information about opening times or possible accommodation and breweries,” says the Klášterní stezky site.
Many of the convents, monasteries, parishes, and churches that offer lodging also host programs for architecture and history buffs as well as, for the truly devoted, the chance to become a monk for a week.
There is still time to take advantage of the summer season with a number events listed on the site throughout the summer.
Our tip for a trip: explore the Broumov churches, a unique collection of ecclesiastical structures, among them, one of the oldest sacred wooden buildings in Central Europe, open to tourists for the first time this summer.
In Prague, where can one go to experience the serenity of a monastic life?
In Břevnov Monastery, Hotel Adalbert is more of a traditional hotel that is part of the monastery grounds; rooms begin at 1,350 CZK.
Reservations are required and some monasteries have rules, such as declaring yourself as a Christian or attending mass.
Other resources for those who want to look into Czech summer pilgrimages and monastery stays, including the Svatojakubská trail leading to Santiago de Compostela are www.cirkevnituristika.cz and www.ultreia.cz.