Bergamo Travel Guide

Main sights

The town has two centres: "Città alta" (upper city), a hilltop medieval town, surrounded by 17th-century cyclopic defensive walls, and the "Città bassa" (lower city). The two parts of the town are connected by funicular/cable car, roads, and foot-paths (the most convenient being immediately adjacent to the funicular station). Parking spaces are very limited in the upper city.

Città alta

The upper city, surrounded by Venetian walls built in the 17th century, forms the historic centre of Bergamo.

Città Alta is an extremely expensive place to live in, with properties being sold for five to twelve thousand euro per square meter.

This has numerous places of interest including:

Cittadella (Citadel), built by the Visconti in the mid-14th century.
Piazza Vecchia (old square)
Palazzo della Ragione. This was the seat of the administration of the city in the age of the communes. Currently it houses a selection of paintings from the Accademia Carrara. Erected in the 12th century, it was rebuilt in the late 16th century by Pietro Isabello. The façade has the lion of St. Mark over a mullioned window, testifying to the long period of Venetian dominance. The atrium has a well-preserved 18th-century sundial.
Palazzo Nuovo (Biblioteca Angelo Mai). It was designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi in the early 17th century but only completed in 1928.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major). It was built from 1137 on the site of a previous religious edifice of the 7th century. Construction continued until the 15th century. Of this first building the external Romanesque structure and the Greek cross plan remain. The interior was extensively modified in the 16th and 17th centuries. The dome has frescoes by Giovanbattista Tiepolo. Noteworthy are the great Crucifix and the tomb of Gaetano Donizetti.
Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni chapel), annexed to Santa Maria Maggiore, is a masterwork of Renaissance architecture and decorative art. It contains the tomb of the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni.
The Battistero (Baptistry), an elegant octagonal building dating from 1340.
Bergamo Cathedral (Duomo). This was built in the late 17th century with later modifications.
Rocca (Castle). It was begun in 1331 on the hill of Sant'Eufemia by William of Castelbarco, vicar of John of Bohemia, and later completed by Azzone Visconti. A wider citadel was added, but is now partly lost. The Venetians built a large tower in the Rocca, as well as a line of walls (Mura Veneziane) 6,200 metres long.
San Michele al Pozzo Bianco. Built in the 12th century, this church contains a wealth of frescos from the 12th to the 16th centuries, including paintings by Lorenzo Lotto.
Museo Civico Archeologico (Archaeological Civic Museum) This is housed in the Cittadella.
Museo di Scienze Naturali Enrico Caffi (Caffi Natural Science Museum) This is also housed in the Cittadella.
Città Alta and its surroundings are part of the Parco dei Colli di Bergamo
Città bassa

The lower city is the modern centre of Bergamo. At the end of the 19th century Città Bassa was composed of Borghi, the residential houses built along the main road that linked Bergamo with the other cities of Lombardy. The main boroughs were Borgo Palazzo along the road to Brescia, Borgo San Leonardo along the road to Milan and Borgo Santa Caterina along the road to Valle Seriana. The city rapidly expanded during the 20th century. In the first decades, the municipality erected major buildings like the new courthouse and various administrative offices in the lower part of Bergamo in order to create a new center of the city. After World War II and during the so-called miracolo economico (economic boom) many residential buildings were constructed in the lower part of the city which are now divided into several neighborhoods such as Longuelo, Colognola, Malpensata and Boccaleone, Redona and Valtesseamong many others. The shopping district developed shortly after, now commonly known as the street the shops are located on Via 20 Settembre.

Of artistic importance in Città Bassa are:

Pinacoteca dell'Accademia Carrara (picture museum of Carrara academy) This is currently closed for restoration and a selection of its paintings is exhibited in the Palazzo Ragione in Città Alta.
Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (gallery of modern and contemporary art), known as GAMEC.

source: Wikipedia

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