Piazza Vecchia • • Visit Bergamo

Piazza Vecchia

Description

Piazza Vecchia represents the core of Città Alta: it has been the heart of political power for centuries and it keeps being one of the most popular places for Bergamo’s citizens to spend some time with friends.

Beauty is all around you if you have a seat at one of the square’s restaurants or cafes, having a drink, breakfast or even a romantic dinner. You can admire the building called “Palazzo della Ragione”, the oldest municipal seat in Lombardy, as well as the Torre Civica, a bell tower also called “Campanone”.

In the middle of the square is located the Contarini Fountain, which was donated to the city by the chief magistrate Alvise Contarini in 1780, while on the opposite side of Piazza Vecchia you can see the Palazzo Nuovo (“New Palace”), which served as Bergamo’s Town Hall until 1873 and is today the seat of the Angelo Mai Library. Its incredible collection includes ancient and precious books: incunabula, books from the 1500s, engravings, manuscripts and other inestimable artefacts making it one of the most outstanding libraries in Italy.

The geometrical layout of the buildings around the square is so harmonic that when Le Corbusier visited Bergamo he said “you can’t move a single stone, it would be a crime”


Built exactly where the ancient Roman forum was, Piazza Vecchia is a lovely and unexpected opening amidst the alleys and the narrow streets leading to it, as well as a perfect place to admire the beauty of Città Alta. The square area was originally delimited by today’s Piazza Duomo and then became the centre of the medieval town, where public edicts were issued and business used to be carried out, as the iron bars fixed on the side of Santa Maria Maggiore Church show. These bars are called “misure” (“measures”) and date back to the Middle Age, when the fragmented jurisdiction led to different measurement systems. Every city used to create its own units of measure for weights, volumes and lengths, so they were exhibited in public places (usually where the market took place). The bars on Santa Maria Maggiore’s external wall represent Bergamo’s units of measure during the Middle Age. The current layout of Piazza Vecchia appeared only after the rising of the Palazzo della Ragione, at the end of 1100, separating the present space from the Duomo’s square behind it. The private houses that used to be there were gradually demolished starting from the XIV Century. Once the square reached current size, the most significant change took place during the end of Venice domination, when the beautiful Contarini fountain was built. It was put in the middle of the square both for aesthetic and practical reasons (you can still quench your thirst drinking from one of its sphinxes’ mouths); in the late XIX Century it was replaces with a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, but eventually was put back at its original place in 1922.

Out of Curiosity: From a few years on, an international event has been taking place in Piazza Vecchia: “I Maestri del Paesaggio – The Masters of Landscape”, set up by outstanding artist and landscape architects turning Piazza Vecchia into an amazing “green square”, a garden with every kind of plant and design objects, for two weeks.

 

 

Continue

Piazza Vecchia represents the core of Città Alta: it has been the heart of political power for centuries and it keeps being one of the most popular places for Bergamo’s citizens to spend some time with friends.

Beauty is all around you if you have a seat at one of the square’s restaurants or cafes, having a drink, breakfast or even a romantic dinner. You can admire the building called “Palazzo della Ragione”, the oldest municipal seat in Lombardy, as well as the Torre Civica, a bell tower also called “Campanone”.

In the middle of the square is located the Contarini Fountain, which was donated to the city by the chief magistrate Alvise Contarini in 1780, while on the opposite side of Piazza Vecchia you can see the Palazzo Nuovo (“New Palace”), which served as Bergamo’s Town Hall until 1873 and is today the seat of the Angelo Mai Library. Its incredible collection includes ancient and precious books: incunabula, books from the 1500s, engravings, manuscripts and other inestimable artefacts making it one of the most outstanding libraries in Italy.

The geometrical layout of the buildings around the square is so harmonic that when Le Corbusier visited Bergamo he said “you can’t move a single stone, it would be a crime”


Built exactly where the ancient Roman forum was, Piazza Vecchia is a lovely and unexpected opening amidst the alleys and the narrow streets leading to it, as well as a perfect place to admire the beauty of Città Alta. The square area was originally delimited by today’s Piazza Duomo and then became the centre of the medieval town, where public edicts were issued and business used to be carried out, as the iron bars fixed on the side of Santa Maria Maggiore Church show. These bars are called “misure” (“measures”) and date back to the Middle Age, when the fragmented jurisdiction led to different measurement systems. Every city used to create its own units of measure for weights, volumes and lengths, so they were exhibited in public places (usually where the market took place). The bars on Santa Maria Maggiore’s external wall represent Bergamo’s units of measure during the Middle Age. The current layout of Piazza Vecchia appeared only after the rising of the Palazzo della Ragione, at the end of 1100, separating the present space from the Duomo’s square behind it. The private houses that used to be there were gradually demolished starting from the XIV Century. Once the square reached current size, the most significant change took place during the end of Venice domination, when the beautiful Contarini fountain was built. It was put in the middle of the square both for aesthetic and practical reasons (you can still quench your thirst drinking from one of its sphinxes’ mouths); in the late XIX Century it was replaces with a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, but eventually was put back at its original place in 1922.

Out of Curiosity: From a few years on, an international event has been taking place in Piazza Vecchia: “I Maestri del Paesaggio – The Masters of Landscape”, set up by outstanding artist and landscape architects turning Piazza Vecchia into an amazing “green square”, a garden with every kind of plant and design objects, for two weeks.