The Basilica of the Nativity of Mary is a grand monument of art and faith, famous for its distinctive largest elliptical dome in the world. The origin of the shrine dates to the second half of the 15th century and is linked to a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin and the subsequent erection of a votive pillar representing the Madonna. In 1592 a hunter accidentally struck the image of Our Lady with his blunderbuss. The incident upset him so much that in a short time the construction of a small chapel was begun, and later the original pillar was “enveloped” by the shrine, which became the destination of numerous pilgrimages.

Its erection began in 1596, when Duke Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy commissioned court architect Ascanio Vittozzi to build it, but work was completed more than three centuries later. The huge dome was built in 1731 in just five months by architect Francesco Gallo, who under encouragement from Filippo Juvarra carried on the church project after Vittozzi’s death.