Piazza Vecchia (Old Square) is a beautiful square in Bergamo, located on the upper part of the city, known as Città Alta. For many centuries, the square was the fulcrum of the political and civil power of Bergamo, and today is a favorite meeting place for locals.
Piazza Vecchia was built on the site of the ancient Roman forum of the city. Beginning with the 11th century, numerous dwellings were built on the square. In the 13th century, the reclamation of the area began, and the dwellings were demolished.
The square became the city center only in the Middle Ages, more precisely in the 12th century, with the construction of Palazzo della Ragione, the seat of the Municipality. The buildings surrounding the square were built starting with the 15th century.
To the north of the square, we can find Palazzo Nuovo, which houses the Angelo Mai Library. The palace was built to a design by the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi starting with the early 17th century and was completed only in 1958, with the placing of the last ornamental works on the facade.
In the western part of the square, there is Palazzo del Podestà, built in the 12th century as a residence for the Suardi family. Later, the palace became the city’s town hall, and starting with 2012 it houses the Museum of the Sixteenth Century (Museo del Cinquecento).
Another building in the square, adjacent to Palazzo del Podestà, is the Civic Tower (Torre Civica), also known as Campanone. Built between the 11th and the 12th century for the Suardi family, the tower is now part of the Bergamo History Museum (Museo delle storie di Bergamo), and can be visited at the same time with the Museum of the Sixteenth Century.
To the south of the square, there is Palazzo della Ragione, which is connected to Campanone and Palazzo del Podestà by a portico. The palace was built between 1183 and 1198, and was rebuilt after a fire in the 16th century. During the medieval times, the palace was the seat of the Municipality, and later a courthouse. Today, Palazzo della Ragione houses the Fresco Museum (Museo dell’Affresco) and various temporary art exhibitions.
Next to Palazzo della Ragione, there is the Caffè del Tasso, a historic establishment adopted as a base in 1860 by the people who decided to follow Giuseppe Garibaldi in the Expedition of the Thousand. In the center of the square, we can find the beautiful Contarini Fountain, built in 1780.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest bus stop is in Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe, about 290 meters away, on the bus Lines 1 and 3. In the same sqare, there is also the cableway to Città Basa.
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