Nestled into the side of a cliff in northern Italy, the Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona is a breathtaking tribute to the lengths man will go to in order to contemplate life and religion in peace. Located near Lake Garda on Mount Baldo, the church seems to float in mid-air thanks to its location on a thin shelf of rock that juts from the cliff. Its relative inaccessibility has been its saving grace, as it’s remained largely untouched through the years.
The site of the church was originally a hermitage, where holy men would gather for silent contemplation. Later, in 1530, construction on the church was started and it was continually expanded through the 19th century. In fact, its gothic style facade is the result of a revamp in 1899. Though the church had been fairly well-preserved, signs of wear began to show over time. So much so that in the late 1970s there was a complete restoration of the site, with some of the damaged parts being torn down. Upon completion of the restoration in 1988, Pope John Paul II made a visit to the sanctuary.
Now the Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona is a pilgrimage site that draws visitors from around the world who are looking for their own piece of solitude. Accessible only on foot, there are two paths leading to the church. The original pathway is a long set of steps leading from the nearby town of Brentino. In the 1920s, an asphalt pedestrian road was added which has fourteen bronze statues representing the Stations of the Cross to guide pilgrims on their way.