Sacro Monte di Varese

Varese, Italy

The Sacro Monte di Varese (literally ‘Sacred Mount of Varese’) is one of the nine sacri monti in the Italian regions of Lombardy and Piedmont which were inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It has an altitude of 807 metres above sea-level.

The Sacro Monte of Varese is located a few kilometers from the city and nestled in the regional park Campo dei Fiori. It consists of the Holy Road and the Sanctuary, as well as the small medieval village surrounding the Sanctuary. The Holy Road with its 14 chapels, rise up the mountain to the little village of Santa Maria del Monte and it ends with the Sanctuary (15th chapel) dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The rise is 2 kilometers along on a pebbly path, and every chapel represents one of the Mysteries of Jesus Christ’s life. You can find at the mountaintop the Sanctuary, the Cloister of Monache Romite Ambrosiane, The Museo Baroffio e del Santuario, the Casa Museo Lodovico Pogliaghi, the permanent nativity scene, and different restaurants, bars, a pizzeria, three hotels and a bed & breakfast.

The recently restored Vellone-Sacro Monte funicular operates between a parking lot at the first chapel 'Prima Cappella' and the top of Sacro Monte on Saturdays and Sundays throughout most of the year.

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Founded: 1604
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

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