All SEE in Bologna

The first place to visit in Bologna is Piazza Maggiore, a large square located in the historical center of the city, where you will find the Basilica of San Petronio, Palazzo del Podesta, Palazzo d’Accursio, Palazzo dei Banchi and Palazzo dei Notai. Besides these, you must see the Fountain of Neptune, located in the adjacent square, the Basilica of Santo Stefano, the Basilica of San Domenico, the two ancient towers – Torre degli Asinelli and Torre dei Garisenda, and Palazzo della Mercanzia.

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    Torre degli Asinelli

    Torre degli Asinelli (Asinelli Tower), the tallest medieval leaning tower in the world, is located in Bologna, in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, about 350 meters away from Piazza Maggiore. Together with the nearby Garisenda Tower (Torre della Garisenda), forms the architectural complex named Two Towers (Due Torri), symbol of the city of Bologna.   SHORT HISTORY We do not know exactly who built the Asinelli Tower, but it seems that the tower owes its name to Gherardo Asinelli, a noble knight of the Ghibelline faction in Bologna, who began its constuction on October 11, 1109, and finished ten years later, in 1119. At the end of the 14th century, with the decline of the Asinelli family, the tower was purchased by the Municipality of Bologna to be used as a prison and fortress. During the same period, a wooden frame was built around the tower, placed thirty meters above the ground, joined with the Garisenda Tower through a walkway. The walkway was destroyed by a fire in 1398. Over the centuries, the Asinelli Tower was struck by lightning many times, until a lightning rod was installed in 1824. In 1888, the engineer Alessandro Ferretti proposed to mount an elevator inside Read more [...]

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    Basilica of San Petronio

    With 132 meters in length and 60 meters wide, the Basilica of San Petronio is the sixth largest church in Europe, despite being largely unfinished. Although is not the cathedral of Bologna, a title that belongs to the nearby Cathedral of San Pietro, it can be considered the main church of the city.   SHORT HISTORY In the 14th century, the Bolognese aristocracy revived the cult of San Petronio, bishop of Bologna during the 5th century, and planned to build a church dedicated to him. On June 7, 1390, the first stone was laid in a solemn procession. The project was given to the architect Antonio di Vicenzo, who consulted on the design of the church with the father Andrea Manfredi. At the beginning of the 15th century, di Vicenzo died, and the Papal Legate Baldassarre Cossa, an enemy of the Municipality of Bologna, took advantage of the architect’s death to sell the material gathered for the construction of the church. In 1507, the architect Arduino Arriguzzi was comissioned to continue the work. Arriguzzi was sent to Florence to see and study the dome built by Brunelleschi for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. On April 30, 1514, the Read more [...]

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    Basilica of Santo Stefano

    The Basilica of Santo Stefano, also known as the Seven Churches (Sette Chiese), is a complex of religious buildings in Bologna, located in the homonymous square.   SHORT HISTORY Around the year 100 AD, a pagan temple dedicated to Isis was built on this site. In 393, Ambrosio, the bishop of Milan, discovered the tombs of the first Christian martyrs of Bologna, Vitale and Agricola, and a small chapel was built near the temple of Isis to preserve their remains. The church is known today as the Church of the Saints Vitale and Agricola. In the 5th century, Petronius, the bishop of Bologna, converted the temple of Isis into a baptistery. Around the year 450, he was buried here. Now, the structure is known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Basilica del Sepolcro). In 727, Liutprand, king of the Lombards, invaded the city and built, to the right of the Holy Sepulcher, a prominent basilica, naming it after San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist). Later, the religious building became the Church of the Holy Crucifix (Chiesa del Crocifisso). The complex was devastated during the invasion of the Hungarians at the beginning of the 10th century, and was largely Read more [...]

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    Basilica of San Domenico

    The Basilica of San Domenico is an important church in Bologna, located in the homonymous square. The church houses the remains of San Domenico (Saint Dominic), founder of the Dominican Order, who died in 1221 in the adjacent convent.   SHORT HISTORY Saint Dominic arrived in Bologna in January 1218, and settled in the convent of the Church of Santa Maria della Purificazione, located outside the city walls. In 1219, the saint moved to the Convent of San Nicolò delle Vigne, where the current basilica stands. Saint Dominic died on August 6, 1221. In 1233, his remains were placed in a cypress chest, enclosed in a simple marble sarcophagus, and placed behind the altar of a side chapel of the right aisle. The following year, San Domenico was canonized by Pope Gregory IX. In 1267, his remains were placed in a monument known as the Ark of Saint Dominic (Arca di San Domenico). Starting with 1228, the old church of San Nicolò delle Vigne was enlarged, with the demolition of the apse and the extension of the nave. The construction works of the new basilica were completed in 1240, with the building of the sober Romanesque facade. The basilica was Read more [...]

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    Piazza VIII Agosto

    Piazza VIII Agosto, also written as Piazza dell’Otto Agosto, is the largest square of the historical center of Bologna. On each Friday and Saturday, Piazza VIII Agosto hosts the traditional Piazzola Market (Mercato Piazzola), with over 400 street stalls.   SHORT HISTORY The area of the current square was acquired by the Municipality of Bologna in 1219, and was officially called Piazza del Mercato (Market Square) in 1251, for the livestock market that was held there. In 1390, the Bolognese Republic granted the organization, eight days before and eight days after the Feast of San Petronio, of a fair, for the sale of any merchandise. In the center of the square, there was a cross where mass was celebrated several times a day. During the fair, it was not allowed to set up stalls for the sale of goods anywhere else in the city. Around the middle of the 18th century, in the center of the square was a 20 meters Doric column with the coat of arms of Pope Alexander VII, who on July 14, 1656, established the annual horse fair during the month of May. For this purpose, in 1662, the square was raised and leveled. On August Read more [...]

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    Porta Galliera

    Porta Galliera is an imposing medieval gate in Bologna, located in Piazza XX Settembre, in the northern part of the historical center of the city. Porta Galliera is the most decorated of all the remaining gates of Bologna.   SHORT HISTORY Porta Galliera was built at the beginning of the 13th century, when the third wall of the city was raised. With a length of about 7.6 kilometers and a polygonal shape, the outer wall of Bologna had 12 gates equipped with a drawbridge, to cross the external moat. The gate was rebuilt in the 14th century, in conjunction with the works for the construction of the nearby Galliera Castle (Castello di Galliera), erected between 1330 and 1333 by Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto for the Pope John XXII. The fortress was however destroyed in 1334 by the Bolognese population rebelling against the Papal State. In the 17th century, the gate was subject to several renovations, and between 1661 and 1663, due to the poor state of the original foundations, it was completely rebuilt based on a design by Bartolomeo Provaglia. Porta Galliera witnessed the final event of the insurrection of August 8, 1848. Through the gate, the last left open Read more [...]

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    Palazzo dei Banchi

    Palazzo dei Banchi (Palace of the Banks) is a 15th-century palace in Bologna, located in Piazza Maggiore, next to the Basilica of San Petronio and Palazzo del Podesta. The palace takes its name from some shops that practiced currency exchange during the 15th and 16th centuries.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo dei Banchi was the last building erected in Piazza Maggiore, starting with 1412. The palace consists of several buildings joined behind the same facade. The facade of the palace and the portico, known as Pavaglione, were built after a project by the architect Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, and were completed between 1565 and 1568. Behind the palace, there is the Mercato di Mezzo, a series of alleys where, since the Middle Ages, a market of typical products and crafts was established. Also located behind Palazzo dei Banchi is the city’s archaeological museum (Museo Civico Archeologico) and the Church of Santa Maria della Vita.   ARCHITECTURE Palazzo dei Banchi has a Renaissance-style facade, with a long portico on the ground floor (Pavaglione). The asymmetric facade of the palace has 15 rounded arches, two of which are larger and lead to the alleys mentioned above, while the others are lower. All the Read more [...]

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    Palazzo dei Notai

    Palazzo dei Notai (Palace of the Notaries) is a medieval palace in Bologna, located in Piazza Maggiore, between the Basilica of San Petronio and Palazzo d’Accursio.   SHORT HISTORY The palace was built starting with 1381 as the seat of the Notaries Guild. Its construction had two stages: the part facing the Basilica of San Petronio dates back to 1381, but the one facing Palazzo d’Accursio was rebuilt by Bartolomeo Fioravanti in 1437. In 1422, a loggia was added to the building, and the current door was opened in Via dei Pignattari, next to the Basilica of San Petronio. In 1792, when the vault of the great hall was transformed and raised according to a design by Giuseppe Tubertini, many battlements were damaged, and the palace partially lost its characteristic medieval appearance. In 1908, Palazzo dei Notai was completely restored by Alfonso Rubbiani, who mainly intervened on the facade and demolished the great hall of Tubertini.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE Palazzo dei Notai is a rectangular structure made of bricks, crenellated on top, with Gothic mullioned windows. Inside the palace, in the Salone dei Notai (Hall of Notaries), you can admire the 15th-century frescoes representing the Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Read more [...]

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    Palazzo d’Accursio

    Palazzo d’Accursio, also known as Palazzo Comunale, houses the Town Hall of Bologna. The palace is located in Piazza Maggiore, flanked by Palazzo del Podesta and Palazzo dei Notai.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo d’Accursio is actually a collection of buildings joined over the centuries, hidden by the same facade. The original nucleus, purchased by the Municipality at the end of the 13th century, was the home of Accursio, a jurist and teacher of law in Bologna. Only in 1336, the palace became the residence of the Anziani (Senior Citizens), the highest magistracy of the Municipality of Bologna and, therefore, the seat of the city government. In the 15th century, the palace was renovated by Fioravante Fioravanti and an astronomical clock was added on the Torre d’Accursio, with a carousel of automata that paraded at each hour change. Other architectural renovations date back to the early 16th century, after the fall of the Bentivoglio family. At the end of the 16th century, the double flight of stairs that gives access to the interior, attributed to Donato Bramante, was completed. In recent history, the palace became famous for the massacre that bears its name. On November 21, 1920, while the newly elected Read more [...]

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    Palazzo del Podesta

    Palazzo del Podesta is a beautiful palace in Bologna, located in Piazza Maggiore, adjacent to Palazzo Re Enzo, opposite the Basilica of San Petronio.   SHORT HISTORY At the beginning of the 13th century, the Municipality of Bologna expropriated several buildings to create the wonderful Piazza Maggiore, and erected the first complex of palaces destined for public administration, starting with Palazzo del Podesta. Proving insufficient for the needs of the city’s government, between 1244 and 1246, Palazzo Re Enzo was built as an extension of Palazzo del Podesta. In 1453, Aristotile Fioravanti renovated the Romanesque facade of the palace in a Renaissance style, at the behest of Giovanni II Bentivoglio, although he never finished the work due to the expulsion of the Bentivoglio family from the city. The great Hall of the Podesta (Salone del Podesta), located on the upper floor, once a courtroom, was used from 1581 to 1767 as a public theater, and, later, as a playing field for ball games. The hall was completely frescoed by Adolfo De Carolis at the beginning of the 20th century, with The Glories of the City of Bologna. Today, Palazzo del Podesta is a prestigious venue for exhibitions and events.   Read more [...]

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    Fountain of Neptune

    The Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno) is a wonderful fountain made by Giambologna in the 16th century, located in the square dedicated to the same deity of the sea, in Bologna.   SHORT HISTORY The Fountain of Neptune is, in fact, a collaborative project of Zanobio Portigiani, Tommaso Laureti and Giambologna, commissioned by the vice-minister Pier Donato Cesi to glorify the papal government of Pope Pius IV. The purpose of the fountain was to embellish the new Piazza del Nettuno, adjacent to Piazza Maggiore. The project was assigned on August 2, 1563, to the Bolognese architect Zanobio Portigiani, to the Palermitan architect Tommaso Laureti, who was delegated to execute the architectural structure of the fountain, and finally to the Flemish Mannerist sculptor Giambologna (Jean Boulogne), commissioned to build the bronze statue of Neptune and the sculptural parts. The fountain was completed in 1566. In 1604, a high fence was built around the fountain, which effectively managed to prevent acts of vandalism. The fence was removed by the city administration only in 1888. Throughout its history, the Neptune fountain has undergone numerous restorations. A first restoration took place in 1708 by the hand of the custodian Carlo Fagottini, who patched Read more [...]

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    Piazza Maggiore

    Piazza Maggiore is the main square of Bologna and, at the same time, one of the most beautiful in Italy. The square is surrounded by the most important buildings of the medieval city, of which we can mention Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo d’Accursio, Palazzo dei Notai, Basilica of San Petronio and Palazzo dei Banchi.   SHORT HISTORY Piazza Maggiore is one of the very first squares built in Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire. The square was built starting with the year 1200, when the local people felt the need to have a central market and a public place for meeting. Only in the 15th century, the square received its present form, while in the 16th century the entire area was rearranged by papal will. Also, in the same century, the adjacent Piazza del Nettuno with the splendid Fountain of Neptune was built. In 1860, Piazza Maggiore was named after Vittorio Emanuele II, until 1943, when the king’s equestrian monument was transferred to the Margherita Gardens, where it is still located. From 1943 to 1945, the square was called Piazza della Repubblica, and in June 1945 received its current name.   ARCHITECTURE The square measures 115 meters in Read more [...]