Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo
Art and culture

The churches of Bergamo

April 20, 2021

Located in the foothills of the Alps, Bergamo displays all the beauty and charm of Italy’s most picturesque hilltop towns. The medieval Città Alta (upper city) is a beguiling blend of narrow, cobbled streets and historic architecture, including some of the most attractive churches in Lombardy.
Facade of Sant'Alessandro Cathedral in Bergamo

Sant’Alessandro Cathedral

Otherwise known as the Duomo, Sant’Alessandro Cathedral is set right at the centre of the Città Alta. The building has undergone many revamps and renovations over the centuries, from the beginning of its construction in 1459 to the most recent refurbishment in 1889. Inside, there are many treasures to discover, including the holy remains of Saint Alexander, patron saint of Bergamo, and Saint John’s glittering golden tiara adorned with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. You’ll also find Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s famous ‘Martyrdom of Saint John, Bishop of Bergamo’, and paintings by Giovanni Battista Moroni and Andrea Previtali, as well as a stunning altarpiece by Carlo Ceresa.

Piazza Duomo, 24129 Bergamo

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Bergamo’s most important church, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is located on Piazza del Duomo, between the grand Piazza Vecchia and Piazza Rosate. A monument to Romanesque architecture on the outside and filled with Baroque decorations on the inside, the church was started in the 12th century but was not actually completed until the 18th century. One of the most unusual elements of the church’s design is that there is no specific main entrance. Instead, there are three side entrances to choose from guarded by red and white marble lions. Inside, you’ll find some beautiful frescos, tapestries and stuccos, as well as intricate wooden marquetry designed by celebrated Renaissance artist Lorenzo Lotto. You can also visit the funerary monument dedicated to Bergamo’s beloved composer Gaetano Donizetti.

Piazza Duomo, 5, 24129 Bergamo

Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Citta Alta Bergamo
Facade of Cappella Colleoni in Bergamo

Cappella Colleoni

Attached to the side of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, this chapel is also a mausoleum dedicated to the famous Italian ‘condottiero’ Bartolomeo Colleoni – one of Italy’s most celebrated and feared military generals. This stunning structure, designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, features a façade of pink and white marble, while inside Colleoni’s magnificent marble sarcophagus lies below intricate frescoed ceilings, the central dome decorated by Venetian master Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Also laid to rest here in an exquisite tomb is Colleoni’s favourite daughter, Medea.

Piazza Duomo, 5, 24129 Bergamo

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Widely regarded as central Bergamo’s most popular church, this attractive religious monument was in fact founded as a Franciscan convent by San Bernardino in 1422. It stood in the same spot until the 19th century, when it was demolished and moved to a different location. Designed by Antonio Preda, the new Neoclassical church is a Greek Cross structure, and inside you’ll find many features from the original church including the cloister and frescoes by Caterina Caniana, Giambettino Cignaroli and Enea Salmeggia. In the central dome is the stunning ‘Gloria di Maria’ (1865-68), painted by Enrico Scuri, director of the Accademia Carrara School of Painting.

Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, 13, 24121 Bergamo

Church Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie in Bergamo
Abbey of Santegidio Fontanella Bergamo

Sant’Egidio in Fontanella Abbey

Just a short drive from the city centre, Sant’Egidio in Fontanella Abbey is an ancient monastery in the woods, which is as atmospheric as it sounds. Well worth the journey, this medieval abbey was built over 1,000 years ago, and you can still see sections of the original frescoes which once decorated its interior. The building is not a functioning monastery anymore, but stepping inside its walls will transport you back to its heyday as the home of the monks of Cluny.

Via Regina Teoperga, 16, 24039 Fontanella

Just a short drive from Milan, Bergamo is the perfect day trip to take from Hotel Principe di Savoia. Discover the delights of Bergamo’s beautiful churches with the help of our dedicated concierge team.

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