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The prestigious UNESCO award attributes an exceptional universal value to seven Sacred Mountains of Piedmont (Belmonte, Crea, Domodossola, Ghiffa, Oropa, Orta and Varallo) and two in Lombardy (Ossuccio and Varese), recognising them as powerful symbols of the Counterreformation, when holy images and natural landscapes were used to create complexes of deep spiritual meaning, worthy not only for the quality and variety of the structures and the works of art contained within, but also for their close relationship with the natural landscape.

The Sacred Mountains of Piedmont and Lombardy stand out from other natural places considered sacred in that they are characterised as places of worship because of the chapels that have been built there.

The nine Sacred Mountains constitute a wide-scale cultural landscape and represent a phenomenon that from the 15th century would then repeat itself in various ways through the Counterreformation of the 16th century all the way to the until the early 18th century.

Some of the best artists of the Late-Lombard and Baroque traditions contributed to the creation of the Sacred Mountains which were also established as places of prayer as an alternative to the Terra Santa (Holy Land) which inaccessible to many.

These architectural complexes, distributed along the slopes of the hill, lead visitors on a physical and spiritual journey, a pilgrimage through a symbolic itinerary of monumental stations making the natural space sacred. As well as places for the soul, the Sacred Mountains are also the result of a grandiose project of landscape architecture or “sanctification” of the landscape in which the natural element and man’s work are used for teaching and spiritual purposes and fuse in a unique, harmonious style extraordinarily integrated in the surrounding nature of forests, lakes and hills.

From the belt of the Western Alps, where the phenomenon had its origins over five hundred years ago, the Sacred Mountains have inspired similar models rising up in a large part of Catholic Europe.

Having experienced a period of decline between the Second World War and the 1980s, today they are again the subject of collective programmes of protection and enhancement, places for interreligious debate, research and conferences, as well as a destination for pilgrims and religious and cultural tourism.

Ente di gestione dei Sacri Monti
Cascina Valperone, 1
15020 Ponzano Monferrato AL

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