Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the most important and representative monuments in Bergamo, and it is particularly dear to the locals. It is located in Piazza Duomo, right in the most historically relevant and ancient part of the Upper Town. This Basilica is a masterpiece of Renaissance and Baroque architecture, representing one of the main examples of Lombard art. Its construction began in the 12th century and it continued for several centuries, undergoing various modifications and extensions over time. The façade is particularly impressive, characterised by a rich sculpted decoration, with massive columns and statues.

The Basilica can be accessed through four entrances around the perimeter of the building, two of which are also dominated by terraced balconies known as prothyros, and supported by lion-shaped sculptures with pillars rising and then supporting them. The marble used for the four lion-shaped sculptures, which can be attributed to Giovanni da Campione – around 1300 -, is white marble on the southern side, while the opposite ones facing Piazza Duomo are pinkish. Precious marble from the Veronese area in one case and from Val d’Ossola in the other, it was the same marble that was used for the Duomo in Milan. Inside there are three important naves, decorated with magnificent frescoes, 25 tapestries, precious wood inlays by the famous artist Lorenzo Lotto and various stucco artworks, as well as the tomb dedicated to Gaetano Donizetti, famous all over the world for his many compositions. Among the most significant artworks on the side of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the Colleoni Chapel, a monumental chapel built in the 15th century for the Colleoni family, one of the most powerful families in Bergamo. This chapel is decorated with sculptures, frescoes and precious marble, and it is considered an artistic jewel of the Italian Renaissance.

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is an important religious site and an architectural icon that attracts countless visitors for its artistic and historical beauty. Its impressive architectural beauty makes it one of the city’s main attractions. On the northern external walls, it is still possible to observe the old units of measurement used in Bergamo during the Middle Ages – the cavezzo (2.63 metres) and the braccio (53.1 cm) – used by weavers and merchants.

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