The Nine Sacred Mountains is a group of nine chapels and other architectural artifacts erected between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the north of Italy, devoted to various aspects of the Christian faith. In addition to their symbolic and spiritual meaning, they have remarkable qualities of beauty, virtue and delight, and are integrated into a natural environment of hills, forests and lakes. They also contain very important artistic finds (paintings, frescoes and statues). Included in the Unesco World Heritage List, the Sacred Mountains, were created to offer pilgrims a safer alternative to pilgrimages to the Holy Land and even now, in addition to being a devotional destination, they fill with a special meaning the splendid landscapes of the regions in which they are located. Special places of worship with a great symbolic religious value, these sites amaze for the integration of architectural elements into the magnificent surrounding places formed by hills, forests and lakes. The devotional phenomenon of the Sacred Mountains - which has influenced the whole Europe - one of the most characteristic of the culture and spirituality of Northern Italy, was already born in the late medieval ages, the period in which the ideal of pilgrimage in the Holy Land progressively settled because of the Turkey's invasion. Carlo Borromeo, bishop of Milan, was the first to promote the project of a network of chapels and places of devotion between the mountains of Lombardy and Piedmont while the Council of Trent (1545-1563) recognized the importance of the Sacred Mountains and proposed them as devotional model to imitate. That is the reason why some places, already home to spontaneous forms of worship and devotion, have been transformed into original complexes designed to represent, with statues and paintings, important episodes of the Old and New Testament or stories of the lives of Saints.
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