Placed on the summit of a hill overlooking the Orta Lake, this Sacred Mount fits in perfectly with the surrounding landscape. The woods, the variety of architectural and decorative styles, the enchanting panorama over the lake are elements that make this place unique, pervaded by a sense of meditation and serenity.

The Sacred Mount of Orta is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, and each of the twenty chapels recalls episodes of the life of the saint, interpreted as similar to the life of Jesus. It is this dedication to a saint, instead of to Christ or to the Madonna that makes it different from the other Sacred Mounts. The devotional complex was built, emulating the nearby Sacred Mount of Varallo, starting at the end of the 16th century, on the initiative of the Novara abbot, Amico Canobio. Its construction was entrusted to the Cappuccino Father, Cleto da Castelletto Ticino, who immediately planned for the careful insertion of the architectural elements into the surrounding natural landscape.
The construction of the chapels follow each other in a spiral itinerary, and went on for over a century, transforming the route into representations of different architectural styles: from late
Renaissance to the baroque of the mid 17th century and to the rococò of the buildings erected in the 17th and the 18th centuries.

The inside decoration, rich with statues and frescoes that portray the life of Saint Francis, is distinguished by the realism of the figures. The worksite enjoyed the contributions of great artists like Cristoforo Prestinari, Dionigi Bussola, the Fiammenghini, the Righi Brothers and many others.
The devotional path ends at the Church of Saint Nicolao, a proto-Romanic building completely remodelled in the seventeenth century to imitate the Lower Basilica of Assisi.

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