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A 224-kilometer cycling trail connects the places where Pope Benedict XVI spent his early and later childhood. Benedict Trail extends through Upper Bavaria and around the Inn and Salzach Rivers to the beautiful Chiemgau region and Lake Chiem.

Bike trips begin with flights into Munich and a short train ride through the scenic Bavarian countryside to Altoetting. Cyclists can rent bikes here to cycle through the towns on the Benedict Trail. Every town has romantic inns, pensions and B&Bs where cyclists can rest and relax.

The trail begins in the pilgrimage town of Altoetting, where Pope John Paul II planted a linden tree in 1980. Altoetting is nestled in the Alpine hills of Upper Bavaria between Munich, Passau and Salzburg.

Altoetting Black Madonna

For more than 1,250 years, the Baroque town has been Germany's most important Virgin Mary pilgrimage destination. More than one million pilgrims and visitors come to see and worship the "Black Madonna" every year.

Also along the Benedict bike trail is the Pope's birthplace in Marktl am Inn, where he was born as Josef Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, and his homes in Tittmoning, Aschau and Traunstein. Between these towns, cyclists can visit the historic cities of Neuoetting, with its 15th-century parish church; the old ducal town of Burghausen, with its fortress towering over the Salzach River; Muehlendorf and Wasserburg, a medieval trading city.

Bavarian monasteries

Beautiful scenery, farming villages, churches and monasteries dot the countryside. The monasteries include the 1146 Cistercian Abbey and its Baroque church and art treasures in Raitenhaslach, the former Benedictine monastery in Seeon, the Benedictine monastery on Frauenchiemsee Island and the monasteries in Gars and Au on the Inn River.

Other places in Bavaria associated with Pope Benedict are the beautiful medieval city of Regensburg, a World Heritage Site. Pope Benedict served as professor and vice-president of the University of Regensburg.

When Pope Benedict visited Germany, he celebrated a solemn mass in the Munich cathedral (Frauenkirche) and visited nearby Freising, where he studied at the University of Theology and was ordained into the priesthood in 1951.