Piazza Vecchia (Old Square) is a beautiful square in Bergamo, located on the upper part of the city, known as the 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 place 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 Museo del Cinquecento (Museum of the Sixteenth Century).
Another building in the square, adjacent to the Palazzo del Podestà, is the Torre Civica (Civic Tower), known also as the Campanone. Built between the 11th and the 12th century for the Suardi family, the tower is now part of the Museo delle storie di Bergamo (Bergamo History Museum), and can be visited at the same time with the Museo del Cinquecento.
To the south of the square, there is the Palazzo della Ragione, which is connected to the Campanone and the 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 Museo dell’affresco (Fresco Museum) and various temporary art exhibitions.
Next to the 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 station is in Piazza Mercato Scarpe, about 290 meters away, on the bus Lines 1 and 3. In the Piazza Mercato Scarpe, there is also the Funicular to Città Basa. To find the square on foot, use the map below.