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From a meeting place of high society to an esoteric temple: the sad fate of the abandoned hydrotherapy center of Oropa.

5 min read

The road that connects Biella to the sanctuary of Oropa winds through the crags of the valley, and resembles any winding mountain road in northern Italy. In reality, this small road carries with it an endless series of testimonies of the “glorious” Biellese past. The most evident traces are those of the suggestive tram that connected Biella and Oropa from 1911 to 1958.
The sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Oropa, located in the Italian province of Biella, in Piedmont, is one of the most important religious destinations in the whole of northern Italy: every day many people, both religious and non-religious, reach the Sacred Mount where the sanctuary is located to spend a day in the tranquility of the mountain, away from the urban chaos. What few people know is that, just a few kilometers from this sacred place, there is another structure, this time dedicated to the cult of the Malignant: the former hydrotherapy facility of Oropa Bagni.

Oropa Bagni was born in the mid-nineteenth century in order to create a luxury hotel where mud baths, spas and all sorts of hydrotherapy were performed. It was founded in 1850 as the first hydrotherapy facility in Italy, and succeess was not long in coming: soon Oropa Bagni became the destination of the aristocratic elite of the time thanks to the presence of a luxury restaurant, reading rooms and walking paths. Moreover the breeze of the Prealps and the presence of water sources among the purest in Europe conferred a further panacea for the rich sick guests of the structure.

Also people like Gabriele D’Annunzio and Arturo Toscanini, spent here their time, in what was the first place dedicated to personal care, and, in particular, to the cure of rheumatism.
It was a huge structure, that could accommodate until 400 people. Of course, a huge economic effort for the time: try to imagine what it meant to bring on the wagons the equipment needed to be able to build it, at a distance of 3 km from the first inhabited center.
However, the success was enormous for the time, with about 20,000 visitors per year, also due to the magnificence and quality of the services offered.

In 1910, with the crisis of the aristocracy and thermal medicine, Oropa Bagni began its slow, inexorable fall into oblivion: the establishment was sold to the Curia of Alessandria, which used it as a summer colony. Something unthinkable given the enormous potential of the place.
What was once a large and sumptuous hotel turned into a gloomy and sad building until it was completely abandoned in the 1920s.
A series of discoveries and events turned Oropa Bagni into the protagonist of numerous legends told by the locals, or rather, due what happened inside.

During the eighties, in fact, a local newspaper began to talk about strange thefts and profanations that took place in nearby cemeteries in Oropa. The authorities could not find those responsible until, under the advice of climbers and mushroom hunters (who had denounced the presence of people dressed in black who ventured into the abandoned building at night), they entered Oropa Bagni for the first time.
What they found in the upper rooms was terrible: in addition to the stolen goods, they found animal carcasses, writings of blood on the walls praising Satan, altars and strange sheets on which strange symbols and esoteric formulas were written. In later times there were many checks but no one was ever seen entering the building and no theft was reported, as if the sect that infested Oropa Bagni at night had never existed.
Immediately the romantic halo of Oropa Bagni gave way to fear: for the locals, what once was a luxurious and lavish place became a bad place to avoid, a sort of upside-down sanctuary in which the devil was worshiped instead of the Madonna.

It was purchased in 1987 by the Biella-based aquifer Lauretana, who claimed to want to reopen the closed springs and redevelop the environment.
Today only the ruins of Oropa Bagni remain: the right side has completely collapsed due to a fire that occurred during one of these black masses, the upper floors are unusable, the only accessible part is the basement on which on a column is the inscription “ASCLEPIO SOTERO” Greek god of healing, perhaps to witness the healthy air of the place and the many people treated during the golden ages of the structure. Fences and danger warnings have served nothing, for many generations curious and thrill seekers have ventured into the structure. Many of these in fact tell of having experienced feelings of discomfort or feeling observed, in other cases even of having seen dark shadows in the corridors and windows or having perceived the smell of sulfur but no crime or event worthy of note took place within these walls.

The foundations will still last a few years, but soon Oropa Bagni is destined to disappear: as if to witness a great dream of luxury but to be remembered only as a place of death and suffering.
Oropa Bagni never again managed to cancel its reputation of a “cursed place”. If you try to write on Google “Oropa Bagni”, you can look at the suggestions of the search bar!

Local Sources. All photos are mine. Historic images from web.
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