Palazzo della Ragione is a palace in Bergamo, located in the upper part of the city, Città Alta. The palace stands across the Piazza Vecchia from the Palazzo Nuovo, bordering also the Piazza del Duomo to the north.
The palace was built at the end of the 12th century, more precisely between 1183 and 1198, making it the oldest town hall in Italy. The building maintained its role as a political center even after the end of the communal era, when, with the arrival of the Republic of Venice in the first half of the 15th century, it was used as the palace of justice, hence the name della Ragione (of reason).
The palace, which was already in a bad shape at the beginning of the 16th century, suffered serious damage in 1513, after a fire. Its reconstruction began in 1538 under the direction of the architect Pietro Isabello, and was completed in 1554.
The works on the exterior were started in March 1539, and the Lion of St. Mark was placed on the facade in April of the same year. Subsequently, the southern wall was restored. The rebuilding of the loggia on the ground floor began in December, 1543, with the placement of the new columns in Doric style. In 1550, Lucano da Imola and Gerolamo Colleoni were commissioned to paint the inside frescoes.
After the fall of the Republic of Venice, in 1797, the palace lost its institutional prerogatives. The decadence of the building was accentuated starting with the middle of the 19th century, when neither the Austrian domination, nor the newborn Kingdom of Italy offered an important role to the structure.
Only in the second half of the 20th century, the building was involved in a new project, with the opening of the Fresco Museum in the Sala delle Capriate.
Palazzo della Ragione is very similar to other Italian municipal buildings from the Middle Ages. It has a ground floor opened on three sides, with a large portal on the fourth side. The loggia has acute and round arches, with rectangular pillars on the sides and round columns in the center. The pillars are decorated with capitals in Romanesque style, including zoomorphic and anthropomorphic elements.
On the pavement of the loggia there is a sundial, work of the abbot Giovanni Albrici, dating back to the 18th century. The sundial was first restored in 1857 by the engineer Francesco Valsecchi and then in 1982.
The first floor is accessed through the large portal on the eastern wall. At the end of a staircase, there is a small overpass that leads to the Sala delle Capriate, the hall where justice was administered in the past. The hall has large three-light windows and a balcony, located in the middle of the wall overlooking the Piazza Vecchia.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest bus station is in Piazza Mercato Scarpe, about 300 meters away, on the bus Lines 1 and 3. In the Mercato Scarpe Square, there is also the Funicular to Città Basa. To find the palace on foot, use the map below.