The top 25 attractions in Bergamo, Italy
In the East of Lombardy, Italy, the ancient Bergamo stretches out under the shade of famous vineyards. For all its abundance of attractions, it is a little-known city. Few people know that the world famous Arlecchino was born here. Also here, as in all of Italy, a lot of churches, basilicas and chapels. Of particular note are the Rocca Castle which is home to the Museum of Liberation and Resistance, the numerous churches and the museum of Donizetti, the Italian composer and Bergamo native.
Bergamo in a day: things to see
The main sights are concentrated in the Old Town, but if you have only one day, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see everything. But you can visit a couple of places.
The first place to start is the Main Square, where the two Town Halls are located, as well as the Civic Tower and the Contarini Fountain. After walking through the Old Town Hall and into Cathedral Square, you can visit the Cathedral, where the Treasure Museum is located, as well as the Baptistery and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
If you have a couple or three days to spare, you can simply walk through the streets of the Old Town, stroll along the Fortress Wall and admire the views of the Lower Bergamo, visit the secluded corners of the Rocca Castle. Then, take the cable car down to the Botanical Gardens to look at exotic plants and shrubs. If you are traveling with children, the Fantabosco Park is worth a visit.
A View of Bergamo at Night
If you intend to make your own route around Bergamo and save money, buy the BergamoCard. This card gives you free travel on all local transportation (including the funicular), as well as a discount when you visit a museum. The card is valid for 2-3 days from the date of activation.
On the main town square there are two town halls, the Old and New. In the corner of the square you can see the tallest tower, where every night the bell strikes a hundred times – in memory of the times when the gate was closed at night, so as not to let the villains into the city. The first building of the Old Town Hall appeared in the mid-12th century. However, a century later it burned down and had to be rebuilt. In 1513, after the Spanish attack, the town hall was damaged again, but restoration began only in 1538. After that, the town hall was left untouched, and it survived to this day. Opposite the Old Town Hall stands the New Town Hall. The construction of the latter was large-scale: it began in the XVII century, it lasted until the mid-20th century. By the way, in 1928 the facade of the building was finished with white marble, and 30 years later six sculptures were added. The marble decoration of the Town Hall in 1928 is not as significant as the creation in the same year of one of the largest libraries in Italy, which contains more than 700 thousand volumes and priceless books of Cardinal Alessandro Giuseppe Furietti.
The Civic Tower
As already mentioned, the structure is located in the corner of the main square of the city and is the tallest in the city: it is about 60 meters high. It is rumored that the original height of the tower was 37 meters, and that it increased afterwards. The bell, hanging at the very top, not only used to announce the closing of the city gates at night, but also to summon Bergamo residents to town meetings. In 1960 an elevator was built in the tower. Everyone can go up to the platform of the Tower and view the panorama of the city.
In the middle of both town halls stands the famous Contarini Fountain, a gift from Alvise Contarini to the city. The purpose of the gift was not only aesthetic, but also practical: the townspeople could draw water from the fountain even in periods of drought. In 1885, the fountain was removed, and it was decided to install the Garibaldi Monument in its place. But then the monument was moved to the Lower Town, and the fountain was returned in its updated form.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
The construction of Santa Maria Maggiore can safely be called the “building of the century”. The erection of the building began in the 12th century, but the construction was constantly stopped, something was missing, someone died, etc. The work progressed very slowly and tediously. Strange as it may seem, there is simply no central entrance to the basilica, and it is possible to enter it only through the Gate of White and the Gate of Pink Lions (the columns of portals are held by pink and white lions). In the XIII century it served not only as a holy place, but also as a place for city gatherings and gatherings. Later the building was used strictly for its intended purpose.
But this Renaissance structure is the only landmark in all of Italy that has never been renovated. That’s how it was built in the 15th century, so it stands. The chapel was built by order of the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni on the site of the northwestern apse, which was demolished by soldiers on the orders of the same Colleoni. The façade of the chapel is lined with colored marble, with “medallion” windows on top. Opposite the entrance, inside the building, stands the sarcophagus of incredible beauty, where Colleoni was laid to rest. The sarcophagus is made of carved marble and includes many decorative elements.
The Itinerant Baptistery
The building is called “itinerant” because of its frequent movements. At first, from 1340, the Baptistery was located in the western part of the central nave of the basilica. Then it was moved. The Baptistery was experimented with a couple of times, then decided to leave it alone. Now the construction proudly and inviolably rises on the West of Cathedral Square. The octagonal dome of the Baptistery is crowned with statues of the eight Virtues. Inside the structure is a baptismal font and an altar headed by a sculpture of John the Baptist.
The Cathedral of St. Alexander
The Cathedral of St. Alexander was built on the site of the demolished Church of St. Vincent. The cathedral holds the relics of St. Alexander. By the way, before that these relics were kept in the church of the same name, which was destroyed after the construction of the fortress wall. In the basement of the cathedral housed the Treasure Museum. The museum was formed during restoration work, when the remains of ancient settlements and the earlier Church of St. Vincent were discovered here, as well as priceless manuscripts telling about the history of the holy place
Defense of the city
The Venetians, who once owned the city, built walls around the Old City, put up watchtowers and bastions, as well as many cannons. To build this splendor, they demolished seven churches and about 250 houses. At the end of the last century the walls surrounding Bergamo were reconstructed and a walkway was built along them. Now, walking along it, Bergamo residents and visitors can admire the views of the city.
The Castle of the Rock
The Rocca Castle is located near the funicular railway, on the hill of St. Euphemia, and is a huge fortress that once housed barracks for soldiers and other outbuildings. The round tower, added to the fortress in 1436, was at one time a powder room, and then it briefly became a prison for the Italian patriots. Today the fortress houses a vast Museum of Liberation and Resistance and around the fortress there is a park, walking through which you can admire views of the Lower Town as well as cannons, military monuments and a tank.
On the west side of Bergamo, on the hill of St. John, is the citadel of the city, built at the end of the 14th century. It was once the seat of the Viceroy. The area around the citadel is now clean and very tidy, the walls and arches have been repaired and given a decent appearance.
Adalberto Tower is another name for the “Tower of Hunger” because at one time it was used to hold the worst debtors. The tower once housed the prison where the failed invaders of Bergamo were imprisoned.
Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is behind the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The chapel was built in the 11th century of brown sandstone. At the beginning of the 12th century, the chapel served as a private place of worship for the bishops. At this time the chapel is completely closed to visitors. Even on feast days the chapel is off-limits. Inside the chapel is decorated with frescoes and images of the 4 bishops.
Temple of St. Michael
Temple of St. Michael. The first church was built here in the 8th century, after it was destroyed but then rebuilt again in the 12th-13th centuries. The facade and interior decoration of the church had been repeatedly renewed. In the XX century, there was a large-scale restoration of the temple: the bell tower and the facade have changed their “face,” and some frescoes were removed.
Church of St. Bartholomew and Stephan
The Church of St. Bartholomew and St. Stephen. This attraction can be found in the Lower Town. It was built in the XVII century on the site of a monastery. It is made in the style of “baroque”. The church houses the famous “Madonna and Child” by Lorenzo Lotto. The picture is dated 1513-16 years.
Church of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary
The Church of the Immaculate Virgin Mary is also located in the Lower Town. In the 15th century there was a monastery near the church, but it was demolished to make way for the construction of the railroad. But the church was not touched, and it has survived until today. In the sacristy of the church have survived utensils, which are several hundred years old.
The temple of the Holy Spirit
The temple of the Holy Spirit. Originally built in the 16th century by the monks of the monastery of the same name, the church was small, but a couple of centuries later it was rebuilt and greatly enlarged. The ascetic facade of unadorned stone dates back to the Renaissance period in the 18th century.
Museum of Archaeology
The Museum of Archaeology was founded in 1561. Until 1761, the museum exhibits were housed in the Old Town Hall. Another 200 years later the museum “moved” to the Visconti Palace. Here you can trace the history of Lombardy and Christianity, admire the works of Egyptian craftsmen and see collections of the copper, bronze and iron period.
Natural Science Museum
It is located right outside the Archaeological Museum. The “natural” collection was formed as early as 1871, but was not officially introduced to the public until 1918. Some exhibits of the museum can be examined under an electron microscope and even touched.
Accademia Carrara Picture Gallery
Art Gallery of the Accademia Carrara. It is named after Bergamo Carrara, who donated his very extensive collection of art paintings. The collection was so huge that it was decided to erect a three-story building for it. Here you can see works by Sandro Botticelli, Pisanello, Raphael Santi, etc. The monotonous exposition of paintings is “diluted” by numerous statuettes, engravings, porcelain and bronze works, medals.
Gallery of modern art
The Gallery of Modern Art is located right across the street from the Pinakothek. In the Gallery you can see works by 20th century painters such as Giorgio Morandi, Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, etc. Temporary exhibitions of “modernist” artists are also housed here.
Museum of Christianity
The exhibition of the Adriano Bernareggi Museum is entirely dedicated to the origin and development of Christianity as a religion. Visitors can admire a variety of ancient icons, church clothes and other religious objects of those times.
Emerged on the site of the city fair, where people always crowded and strolling troupes of artists performed. Since its opening in 1800, the theater has been the center of Bergamo’s cultural life. There have never been a single closing ceremony or cancellation. You don’t need a ticket to see the architecture inside, you can request a guided tour.
Park dei Colli
This park is the largest in the city and covers almost 5,000 hectares. The Park dei Colli not only stretches over the territory of Bergamo, but also “takes” an impressive part of the district of Villa d’Alme and Ponteranica. There are also animals in the park: foxes, European badgers, etc., as well as the European robin.
Turani Redona Park.
Here you can relax with the whole family, have a picnic, feed the ducks and turtles in the pond and even see an owl. In Turani Redona there are often festivals and celebrations.
Lorenzo Rota Botanical Garden
It is named after the scientist who first classified the plants of Lombardy. The area of the garden does not exceed 1500 m2, but here you can see more than 900 species of plants. When it is not in season, the botanical garden is closed to visitors.