Sacro Monte (Sacred Mount), Varese, Italy

The Sacro Monte (Sacred Mount) in Varese (in the Campo dei Fiori Regional Park), belongs to the group of nine pre-Alpine mountains Saints in Piedmont and Lombardy; registered in 2003 in the UNESCO list of World Heritage. It consists of fourteen chapels dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary, which lead to the sanctuary of ‘Santa Maria del Monte’, a place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, constituting the fifteenth chapel which retains an organ in 1831. The construction began in 1604, along two kilometers of a plot cobbled. The Borgo di Santa Maria del Monte, where the sanctuary is , is connected to the rest of the city by a small road and also by a historic funicular recently restarted.

Tips

You can park your car in the parking lot and if you do not want to continue on foot, there is an elevator that will take you almost to the top. From there, you have a beautiful view of the city and mountains. If you do not want to drive with the car in the narrow mountain road, there is a bus that will leave you in the parking lot and you can continue by walking trails or just take the elevator if you do not want to do any effort. Wear preferably sneakers because it is not easy to go through the cobblestone paths with slippery shoes or heels.

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Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Montmartre, Paris, France

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, in the 18th district of Paris. In 1871 Alexandre Legentil writes a personal wish that eventually takes a nationwide in which he spoke of the misfortune that the France was suffering since the defeat of 1789 and in which he promised to contribute to the construction of a sanctuary dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paris. The election of the architect is done by competition, Paul Abadie was the winner. At its death he was replaced by Honoré Daumet and himself replaced by Charles Laisné that will add the collaboration of Émile Hirsch for stained glass. The first stone was laid 16 June 1875. The interior of the nave is inaugurated in 1891. The steeple was finished in 1912 and the façade in 1914 but as the war began, the consecration was in 1919. It’s just in 1923 it was really finished with interior decoration. The Basilica is cruciform Greek, adorned with four domes, with a central dome (83 m high) topped by a roof formed of a colonnade. The architect has chosen a white stone hard and self-cleaning in contact with water. The ceiling of the apse, inside, is decorated with the largest mosaic of France representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus designed by Luc Olivier Merson; its base has a phrase in latin meaning ‘To the holy heart of Jesus, the devout, penitent and grateful France’. There is also the largest bell of France. There are two equestrian statues in bronze of one and other side of the entrance that represent Saint-Louis and Joan of Arc. Inside there is the silver statue of the Sacred Heart of Christ. In 1928 they added a Christ of 5 metres in height, in stone, in the niche of the facade. It is the second most visited monument of France after the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Tips

The two nearest metro stations are Anvers on line 2 and Abbesses on line 12.
To get to the basilica you will have to climb 50 metres either by taking the stairs or with the funicular or the Montmartrobus enabling you to effortlessly.
You can also make a visit with Promotrain (small tourist train with sound for 55 people) which you can take at Place Blanche (metro Blanche line 2) or at Place du Tertre. You do not need to book unless you’re in a group of 15 people or more. You will also get a reduction in the fee in the case to be a group of 20 people or more.
If you can, avoid to visit the basilica over the weekend as there are many more tourists than on weekdays.
Unfortunately, it is forbidden to use cameras or video cameras inside the basilica but you can still take your camera to capture one of more beautiful views of Paris once at the top. You have a magnificent view!
It’s better you programmed to pass minimum half-day on-site because Montmartre has many shops, restaurants, cafes, the place where painters exhibit where at the same timeone of them could make you a portrait or to simply wander around this beautiful neighbourhood.
You will also find street artists who do their demonstrations in front of the basilica quite often as occasional sellers especially at weekends.

Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Avila, Castilla y León, Spain

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Avila, the first Gothic cathedral in Spain, is the bishopric of the same name, in Castilla y León. It was designed as a temple and fortress, its apse being one of the hubs of the city wall. It is located alongside several houses or majestic palaces which ensured the defense of the Loyal Door or the Weight of the Flour. It is not known with certainty the date on which it was built, but most historians say it was in the twelfth century with the completion in the XVI century, except for a tower that has not been completed. The back of the choir is limestone and it is very large. We find a French influence with a resemblance to the Basilica of Saint-Denis. Outside, it is fortified, but inside its double ambulatory with thin columns and arches give it an impression of lightness and clarity, also with a very good light. The three naves are of equal width, but the central one is significantly higher, and opens with large windows to the outside. There are the remains of the penultimate historian and prime minister of the Second Republic in exile, Claudio Sanchez Albornoz and those of the Spanish President Adolfo Suarez (1977-1981) and his wife.

Tips

The cathedral is open daily, but you should consult the daily schedule.
You have to pay an entrance fee for sightseeing, but children under 12 years old and people with disabilities do not pay.