In the north of Italy, between Milan and Verona, we find a city that looks like something out of a fairy tale: Bergamo, a small paradise, but absolutely fascinating. This city, known as the City of a Thousand, deserves the visit of all world travelers. But what to see in Bergamo? At El Viajero Feliz we share with you its 10 essential places! There is no doubt: in Bergamo we will find places that will leave us with our mouths open.
And it is that since we heard about this city we are surprised to know that it is divided! Its two distinct parts are called Upper Town (Città Alta) and Lower Town (Città Bassa). In both cases we will come across different landscapes, a unique contrast that every visitor will want to appreciate with their own eyes. The best of all? That a funicular connects the old and walled part of the city with the modern part! Does this pique your curiosity? I bet so! Are you accompanying us on our visit to Bergamo? Go!
What to see in Bergamo: 10 places you cannot miss
1. Piazza Vecchia (Old Square)
It can be said that Piazza Vecchia is the heart of this city and, therefore, it becomes one of the first places to see in Bergamo. This place was an important meeting point for politicians. Today in one of the favorite places of the locals to spend a pleasant time in good company. And of course you can also enjoy Piazza Vecchia!
During your entire stay you can feel surrounded by an atmosphere of unsurpassed beauty. In addition, you can take the opportunity to eat an aperitif or have breakfast in nearby places. Piazza Vecchia is quite busy, but you will always find a way to spend an intimate time in the company of your loved ones.
2. Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore)
Religious tourism cannot be missed if you ask what to see in Bergamo. That is why we recommend that you visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The exterior of this basilica is in Lombard-Romanesque style, while inside you will find a Gothic-style niche. The truth is that it is quite impressive!
This basilica was founded in 1137 in the exact place where another old church was located. It was also directed to the cult of the Virgin Mary. The last restoration that this basilica underwent (or at least the last that is remembered) occurred in the 17th century, since then it has preserved this design. If you are looking for the best of tourism in Bergamo, be sure to see the interior of this basilica, especially the scenes from the life of Saint Egido, the Last Supper and the tree of life. Would you like to visit it?
3. Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni Chapel)
In the northern part of this Italian city and right at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore you will find the Cappella Colleoni. The first thing that will catch your attention is that it has rhombus-shaped decorations and includes nine rows of reliefs with biblical stories. It is one of those buildings to see in Bergamo because they do not go unnoticed!
Both the interior and exterior of this chapel-mausoleum are full of Catholic symbolism. For example, you can find reliefs that tell the story of Jesus. One of the great curiosities of the Cappella Colleoni is that Colleoni’s grave was discovered there in a wooden coffin in 1969. Until that date, the sarcophagus was believed to be empty!
4. Lower Town
As we mentioned, Bergamo is divided into the Upper City and the Lower City. In the second case, you will find a city delimited by the tree line of Boulevard Giovanni XXIII. Vibrant, modern and urban, the Lower City is a good place for tourists to see the contrast of Bergamo that is so much talked about.
From a historical point of view, the Lower City does not have as many attractions, but it can still offer an interesting sight. In this way, You will find the birthplace of the famous musician Gaetano Donizetti. You can also see the Pinacoteca of the Carrara Academy up close, if you like art and painting! The Lower City confirms that Bergamo is one of those beautiful but little known cities.
One of the great attractions of the Lower Town is the funicular that connects Bergamo with the Upper Town. This means of transport will allow you to enjoy an incredible panorama! In addition, you can go from one point to another in a period of 5 minutes. The idea for this funicular arose in 1887 and was designed by the engineer Alessandro Ferretti. Do you want to get on one of them? The price of the Bergamo funicular costs 1.20 euros and is valid for 75 minutes.
5. Piazza Duomo
One of the wonders to see in Bergamo with children is the Piazza Duomo. A quite picturesque place that brings together a large part of the population. Previously it was the place of contracts, exchanges and tenders, but little by little it has been transformed until today, where it has become one of the most enjoyed by tourists. The reason is that the area is full of historical and religious buildings.
This Piazza connects with Piazza Vecchia through the portico of the Palazzo della Ragione and continues until it joins Piazza Reginaldo Giuliani. Due to all this connection and proximity, it becomes an excellent opportunity to visit the places to see in Bergamo in one day. The cobbled streets, so popular in this part of the city, give everything an air reminiscent of the Middle Ages. Something extremely difficult to find in these times! Visit it and feel how you go back in time.
6. Via Gombito
The Via Gombito is a must if you wonder what to see in the Upper City. In that sense, Via Gombito is one of the main streets in Bergamo. Wherever you want to walk you will find restaurants, shops, bars, historic buildings and squares that invite you to stop the tour for a moment and enjoy the city. It is the busiest road artery and it is practically impossible for you to travel to Bergamo and not go through it!
You can also find the imposing Torre de Gombito, which is open to the public in summer and spring. And it will give you one of the best views of the city! Due to its height, it becomes one of the most outstanding observation points of the city. The Gombito Tower was built in the year 1200 as a symbol of power … and they did achieve this purpose!
7. Palazzo della Ragione
At the end of the 12th century, the Palazzo della Ragione was built, a historic building that you must include in your itinerary if your purpose is to visit Bergamo and its surroundings. Its name, Palace of Reason, is due to the fact that until the first half of the 15th century it was used as a place where justice was administered. With the end of the domination of the Republic of Venice, the palace was practically abandoned and lost all its relevance to justice.
It was not until the 20th century that the Palazzo della Ragione regained the splendor it had in centuries past when it was opened for tourism. Thousands of tourists began to admire the beauty of the place and to give importance to the role it played in the past! It is in a perfect position for travelers to go see it, since it is close to Piazza Vecchia. Do you visit it? Do not forget to admire the stairs that lead to the first floor!
Recommended reading: Bergamo: small but fascinating Italian city
8. Palazzo Nuovo
The Palazzo Nuovo is the counterpart to the Palazzo Vecchio or the Palazzo della Ragione. Equally exquisite, sublime, and intimidating in architecture, Palazzo Nuovo was built from 1604 to 1928. That is, it took three centuries to finish it. And for that alone it is already an indisputable candidate as a place to see in Bergamo!
This gem of Bergamo has a marble façade by the architect Ernesto Pirovano. It is also present in the San Giacomo Gate of this city. Currently the Palazzo Nuovo It works as the headquarters of the Angelo Mai library, it has hundreds of manuscripts, books, codes and musical scores that are worth knowing. Don’t miss the Palazzo Nuovo!
9. Castello di San Vigilio
In the Upper Town is the Castello di San Vigilio, another of the places to see in Bergamo. This castle has a long historical historyDue to its geographical location, at a height of about 496 meters above sea level, it was used as a sighting site. Its use for military purposes was so precious that the King of Italy Arnolfo di Carinthia decided to conquer it. Subsequently, the Bergamo City Council decided to build a larger castle.
With the dominion of the Republic of Venice, the Castello di San Vigilio became the headquarters of the main management tasks of the city. In 1829 parts of the castle were demolished as the Austrians seized power and concentrated on tearing down the military structures. From 1962 the castle became open to the public. You can request a guided tour!
10. Bergamo Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Alexander, or better known as the Cathedral of Bergamo, is another of the essential places to see in Bergamo. It is dedicated to the patron of the city. If you enjoy art, for sure you will be enchanted by this cathedral, as inside you will find works by various prominent artists. It is the only cathedral in the city, since in 1561 the second church dedicated to this patron was destroyed to build the Venetian walls around the Upper City.
You already know where Bergamo is and what are the places to see in the Lower Town and the Upper Town! There are no excuses for you to postpone your trip to this incredible city with such amazing sites. What has been the place to see in Bergamo that you liked the most? We look forward to your comments!