Visit Stresa - Tourist Information for Stresa, Lake Maggiore

About Stresa Things to See and Do Accommodation Travel and Transport Plan Your Trip Interactive Stresa Map Travellers Tips Useful Links Leaflet Downloads Concerts & Events

Orta Sacro Monte
Visit Stresa: Sacro Monte Orta



Orta Sacro Monte (Sacred Mount) is one of nine in Piedmont and Lombardy and they are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


The Sacred Mount is a model that dates back to the 15th century and was bought to Italy during the Counter-Reformation. Sacred Mounts are devotional complexes located on mountains and contain a series of chapels illustrating scenes from the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary or the Saints using frescoes, sculptures or statues. The faithful do not enter the chapels, but view the scenes from outside through metal grilles. The Sacred Mounts were built as a representation of New Jerusalem in order to offer pilgrims the opportunity to visit a holy place.


Orta Sacro Monte consists of 20 chapels, San Nicolao church, the New Chapel and the friar's hospice and was built between 1590 and 1785. Unusually, it is dedicated to just one saint, St. Francis, and his life is depicted in the scenes of earthenware statues in each chapel.


It was the people of Orta who decided to build the Sacro Monte on land that was once used for viticulture and where there had been a San Nicolao church since the 10th century. They wished to build a series of chapels dedicated to St. Francis and a monastery for the Capuchin Friars who were entrusted with its upkeep.


The monastery was built in 1590 and the first chapel (now number 20) in 1591 and were financed by the Abbot of Villombrosa.


From then on expenses were largely covered by the people of Orta and Bishop Bescapè of Novara. He wanted to create places for strict devotion and was also very much involved with the Sacro Monte in Varallo. He commissioned the artists to make the statues and paint the frescoes as well as setting up a committee to administer funds between the various sections of construction.


The overall project was designed by the Capuchin architect, Friar Cleto. He designed most of the chapels which are in the Renaissance and Baroque styles and built from local materials, the well, the church's new facade and the monastery.


The friars have been evicted from the monastery twice: once in 1810 by Napoleon and again in 1866 by the Piedmont Government. In 1896 benefactors built them a hospice next to the church which is where they still live.


ÊBack to list of attractions



Accessible by Public Transport


Practical Info


The Sacro Monte is open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Epiphany and 31st January. During the winter it is open 09.00-16.30 and during the summer it is open 08.30-18.30.


Within the Sacro Monte park there are both a bar/restaurant (closed Tuesdays) and picnic areas.


From the car parks in Orta it is approximately a 10-15 minute walk (uphill!) to the Sacro Monte. Alternatively you can drive up to their car park.  


There is visitor centre by chapel 20 with leaflets about the Sacro Monte and also a bookshop with guides containing specific details about the various chapels.


For wheelchair users, please note that access to the Sacro Monte is up a fairly steep slope, there are steps between some of the chapels and the grilles through which you view the statues and the inside of the chapels are often at standing height. 



About Stresa Things to See and Do Accommodation Travel and Transport Plan Your Trip Interactive Stresa Map Travellers Tips Useful Links Leaflet Downloads Concerts & Events