The spiritual heart of the upper city
Back in 1133, the entire area of Bergamo was hit by drought, plague and famine. The people of Bergamo later decided to build a church in honour of the Virgin Mary in the heart of the upper city, to thank her for protecting the city and getting it through this terrible period. And so, they laid the foundation stone of what is now the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which stands on the site of a former temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Clemenza.
The stunning façade boasts white Candoglia marble and pink Verona marble. The entire façade is adorned with statues, columns, pillars, windows and rose windows, making the Basilica one of the best examples of religious architecture in Lombardy.
If you are looking for a classic front entrance, you may find yourself confused! The church does not have a main façade with a traditional entrance. Instead, it features four side doors covered by porches supported by small columns, at the base of each of which are statues of red and white lions. If you look closely at the space between the two northern entrances, on the wall are measurements used in Bergamo in the Middle Ages by merchants and weavers: the cavezzo and the braccio, 2.63 metres and 53.1 centimetres, respectively.
Inside is a riot of tapestries, frescoes, stuccoes and other decorations. Don’t miss the tomb of composer Gaetano Donizetti, to pay tribute to one of the most famous people from Bergamo of all time.