Madonna del Sasso

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The church of Madonna del Sasso in Orselina (Locarno, Switzerland).

Madonna del Sasso

Madonna del Sasso is a historical church on a sacred mountain just outside Locarno. The church, the walk to get there and the view from the top are definitely worth a visit.

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  • Attraction type: culture, monument;
    natural site, mountain top, by funicular
  • Escort: independent (no guide)
  • Region: Locarno (Ticino)
  • Duration: 1 day or less

What is Madonna del Sasso?

The Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso is one of the most famous religious places in the canton of Ticino. Another famous place is the much newer church on Mount Tamaro. The Madonna del Sasso is located on a sacred mountain which also includes the Church of the Annunciation, various little chapels and a scenic walking path.

According to the legend, the Virgin Mary appeared on the mountain in 1480. That was the reason to build the first small chapels in 1487. The Church of the Annunciation opened in 1502. Eventually the idea was that the mountain should be a sacred place to worship Mary. More chapels were built, and also the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso. Its church built on a massive rock is the most prominent building.

The church

This is what to expect once you've reached the Madonna del Sasso church at the highest part of the sacred mountain:

  • The historical pilgrimage church Madonna del Sasso, with lots of decorations and frescoes. The complex houses various works of art including groups of statues in Catholic scenes. Mind the schedule of holy masses, either to attend or avoid if you just want to take a look inside the church;
  • The Casa del Padre Museum, part of the monastery. One can learn about the Capuchin friars and the history of the convent here. There is also a display of offered items (ex-votos) and paintings. The museum is closed in winter. Mind the opening hours;
  • Good views over Locarno and Lake Maggiore from the church square.

Get there on foot

There is a scenic walking path from Locarno to the Madonna del Sasso, and also a funicular. Please find details here.

Preparation

As long as there is no relentless rain, any kind of weather is good enough for a visit. Sunny, clear weather is best to enjoy the views though. If you do the walk it helps to have comfortable walking shoes. The walk isn't long but it is steep.

More activities to fill the day

A visit to the Madonna del Sasso can easily be combined with a visit further up the mountain to Cardada or Cimetta. Also you can do a city walk in Locarno.

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