After returning from a trip to Palestine at the end of the 15th century, the Franciscan monk Bernardino Caimi decided to reproduce those places in Varallo and evoke the Life and Passion of Christ. Thus a ‘New Jerusalem’ was born in the heart of Valsesia.
Varallo is about 36 km from Borgomanero.
Sacred Mount can be reached on foot following a twenty-minute uphill route from the centre of Varallo, which ideally represents the route of Jesus’ ascent to Calvary; by car, from the carriage road in the hamlet of Crosa di Varallo, or by the funicular railway reopened in 2003 after renovation work.
The construction of the complex of buildings took about two centuries to complete. Each of the 45 chapels depicts scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary with frescoes (approx 4,000 figures) and groups of statues (approx 400).
One of the most important artists who worked there is Gaudenzio Ferrari. He worked with the founder to start Sacred Mount, and the magnificent chapel of the Crucifixion is his masterpiece.
Due to the beauty of the site and its testimonies of faith and art, the Sacred Mount of Varallo is a unique monument of its kind.
The itinerary through the chapels is divided into two different parts. The first, from chapel no. 1 (Adam and Eve) to no. 19 (Christ’s entry into Jerusalem), occupies the most impervious area of the park and is completely immersed in the nature of the reserve. The second part is situated at the top of the mount and is accessible through the Porta Aurea (Golden Gate). It is organised like a city with palaces, porticoes, Temple and Court squares, and chapels illustrating episodes from the life of Christ within the walls of Jerusalem (Last Supper, Sepulchre, Resurrection, Assumption of Mary). The Basilica of the Assumption, at the centre of the sacred complex, is the pilgrim’s ideal finishing point.
Following this itinerary, visitors will begin a personal journey of ascent: from the chapel of Adam and Eve to the Annunciation and the episodes in the life of Christ, followed by the Passion, with the narration of Christ’s last hours on earth until the Resurrection. The Sepulchre of the Virgin marks the end of the visit.
Sacred Mount of Varallo was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2003.