The Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo

An unforgettable artwork in stone, iron and copper

It took a full 74 years of labour to finish this enormous statue, which was unveiled in 1698 on top of a green hill in the heart of Arona. It is made of huge copper plates beaten with a hammer and anchored to an iron frame. The saint’s right arm, shown in the act of making a blessing, is a complex semi-elastic structure designed to resist the strong winds that sometimes blow from the north. Of all the statues whose interior can be visited, it was the tallest in the world for two centuries, before being surpassed by the Statue of Liberty, whose designer came here to study some of its tricks. Seeing this huge structure from the inside is a real thrill. You can even climb a ladder up to the head, where openings at the saint’s eyes, nostrils, and ears let you enjoy the panorama all around from a height of over 30 metres.

For more information visit the Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo website.

Photo by Marco Benedetto Cerini – Archivio Fotografico Distretto Turistico dei Laghi

"Here in Arona we are all very attached to it; we have renamed it our Big San Carlo."

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