Sacro Monte di Orta (Orta San Giulio)

Tel. +39.0322.911960 - Fax: +39.0322.905654

Via Sacro Monte - 28016 Orta San Giulio (No)

Sacro Monte di Orta
Sacro Monte di Orta

The Romans called that little lake, in the enchanting setting between Verbano and Ossola, Cusius. Today, that name characterizes the area of Lake d’Orta – with a 22 and a half kilometer perimeter and a 143 meter depth – and the small town. The island, instead, shaped like an anchored ship and which has a splendid basilica, is named after San Giulio and his brother Giuliano, two monks who came from Greece in the 16th century to evangelize the people of Lago d’Orta. One of the most beautiful and scared hills in Piedmont is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. This religious complex, created between the end of the 16th century and the 2nd half of the 18th century, developed along the slopes of Monte Francesco on a strip of land wedged into Lago d’Orta. Today, the Sacro Monte includes the church of San Nicola di Mira and 20 chapels which follow one after the other on an almost forgotten path among thick and well-organized vegetation, age-old trees, rest spots for meditation, and breathtakingly panoramic short-cuts towards the lake. The chapels have, in total, 376 human-scale statues in painted terracotta and large fresco cycles which narrate the events in the life of Saint Francis from his birth to his sainthood. Alongside the sculptures, large fresco cycles further narrate events in the life of the holy Franciscan father.
Important artists worked on the Sacro Monte di Orta such as the sculptors Cristoforo Prestinari and Dionigi Bussola from the Milanese school and the Righi brothers – the pseudonym of Giovanni and Melchiorre D’Errico, and many other sculptors and painters. The architectural styles of the chapels reflect the various eras passed through during the construction of the religious complex. From the sculptural groupings in painted terracotta, to the elements following the Baroque taste, to the works in the Rococo style. Of particular architectural importance are: chapel #3 which shows Saint Francis as he renounces his worldly possessions, #11 where Saint Francis receives permission for his request regarding the Porziuncola from Jesus, and #15 where the Saint receives the stigmata on la Verna. The religious itinerary begins at the entrance arch, built in 1648, with the first chapel which was finished in 1592 and which represents the Birth of Saint Francis and ends with the church of San Nicola di Mira, the Proto-Romanesque building transformed in the 17th century.

Date of last update: 15/04/2010