Bologna is one of the most remarkable and at the same time underestimated cities in Italy, and its significance is already evidenced by the fact that in the Middle Ages it was one of the largest megacities in Europe. It is not surprising that many sights of world significance have been preserved in Bologna. There are so many interesting places in the city that I decided to talk about the most important of them in a separate article.
Leaning Towers of Asinelli and Garisenda
Leaning towers are not only in Pisa but also in Bologna. And in Bologna, there are two of them at once Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda.
Both towers were supposedly erected in the 12th century and today are iconic sights of Bologna.
Unlike the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the “skyscrapers” in Bologna served their owners as a dwelling and a fortress were built of brick and did not differ in rich decoration.
In the pursuit of fame, customers did not care much about the quality of construction. What the design mistakes led to today can be observed firsthand: the angle of deviation of the Azinelli tower from the straight axis has already reached 1.3 You can climb one of the towers Asinelli: to do this, you will have to overcome 498 steps. But you can boast that you were on the tallest falling tower in the world. The height of the tower is 97 m, which is comparable to the height of a modern 20-story building.
The entrance to the Garisenda Tower is closed for security reasons. The angle of inclination of the tower is growing so rapidly that it had to be shortened three times already as a result, the height has already decreased from 60 to 48 meters.
But it’s also worth visiting Garisenda outside after all, it is even mentioned in Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.
Basilica of San Petronio
The Basilica of San Petronio is one of Europe’s largest cathedrals and holds 28,000 believers. According to the initial plan, the size of the temple was to exceed St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, but this did not happen by the will of the papal throne.
The construction of the basilica began in 1390 and lasted until 1663. For such a long period, the building managed to feel the influence of Gothic, Mannerism, and Baroque.
The facade of the basilica serves as an eloquent testimony to the unfinished construction: if the lower part is faced with marble, then the upper one remained brick.
The interior of the church is characterized by a large number of frescoes of the XV century. It houses the oldest organ in Italy (1475), and the world’s longest meridian (67 meters) with zodiac signs is drawn on the floor.
Such a sundial was invented by the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini to prove that the Earth revolves around the Sun. A ray of light falls through a hole in the roof at one of the signs and indicates the month of the year.
Another feature of the Basilica of San Petronio is that Napoleon’s sister, Eliza Bonaparte, is buried here.
Piazza Maggiore and Nettuno
Piazza Maggiore is the largest square in Bologna, where all the main events of the city take place. Until 1877, it bore the name “Market” just right for its original purpose.
Today, the square is primarily a tourist attraction, and only the old measures installed on one of the buildings remind of the past.
Neighboring Nettuno Square is adjacent to Piazza Maggiore first of all, thanks to the Neptune Fountain located here by the sculptor Giamboloni, a student of Michelangelo. A bronze statue of God adorned the square in 1567.
This attraction of Bologna is also interesting because the trident of Neptune inspired the Maserati automobile concern to create its own logo.
On the corner of the two squares is the Palazzo Re Enzo, named after the Sardinian king, who was forced to spend here in prison the last 23 years of his life.
Santo Stefano Complex
Santo Stefano is also called the place of “Seven Churches”, although so far only four of the seven churches have survived.
The complex of medieval buildings was conceived as a European replica of the Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The first buildings date back to the V century. AD The current appearance of Santo Stefano owes more to the restoration of the XIX-XX centuries.
Today in the Museum of Santo Stefano you can find many valuable examples of the art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Church buildings also retained many elements of the original setting.
In the church of the first Christian martyrs of Bologna Vitale and Agricola, the floor is tiled with mosaics of the VI century. On the walls of the crypt of the Church of the Crucifixion of the Lord are visible frescoes of the XV century.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located on the site of the former sanctuary of Isis, from which the building inherited columns of African marble.
The portico or courtyard of Pilate connects the main buildings of the complex with the Holy Trinity Church. There is a pool called the “Pilate washbasin”.
Until 2000, the relics of St. Petronius were stored in Santo Stefano and only then were transferred to the Basilica of San Petronio.
For the first time in the world, higher education diplomas began to be issued in Bologna the local university dates back to 1088. Among the famous graduates of the Bologna alma mater are Dante, Dürer, Petrarch, Copernicus.
True, in the years of their student years the university has not yet found its building the Archiginnasio University Palace was built only in the second half of the 16th century. Training sessions in the Gymnasium took place until 1803.
Today, the first residence of the University of Bologna is partially open to the public. Impressive are the preserved frescoes on the ceilings and the family coat of arms of students and teachers who adorn the walls of the corridors.
For a fee, you will be given the opportunity to sit on the student bench of the Anatomical Theater in 1637 and introduce yourself as a witness to the first scientific research in the field of the structure of the human body.
No less famous is the Archgymnasium for its library, whose collection totals more than half a million books and about 12 thousand manuscripts.
One of the oldest buildings in Bologna was erected in 1200. True, in the XV century the palace underwent a major reconstruction under the direction of Ridolfo Aristotle Fioravanti part-time author of the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
Initially, the Palazzo Podesta was intended for the head of the local administration, but over its long history, it managed to serve as a court, and a city theater, and even a training base for firefighters. Today, in the lobby of the second floor are exhibitions and important city events, and on the ground floor, which formerly occupied by craft shops, boutiques and a fashionable restaurant were opened.
The gallery on the first floor is famous for its unique acoustics: if you stand in the center and pronounce any word, it will be clearly audible in any corner. Therefore, it is also called the “whisper gallery”.
Unfortunately, the interior of the palace can only be viewed during events. But you can admire the palace outside at any time.
Cathedral of San Pietro
St. Peter’s Temple survived fires, earthquakes, and unsuccessful reconstruction so that only fragments remain of the original version of the 11th-century cathedral. A bizarre mixture of Gothic and Romanesque styles developed into a modern ensemble only in the 18th century.
In the 15th century, the Garganelli chapel appeared in the temple, the walls of which were painted with frescoes by Ecolé before Roberti and Francesco del Cos. Today they are almost lost, but this cycle at one time had an impact on the work of Michelangelo.
The interior of the temple is Baroque and decorated with works of art, and the gifts of believers over the past 500 years are stored in the museum-treasury.
The main attraction of the cathedral is the huge bell tower 70 meters high. The largest of more than two dozen bells is called “grandmother” (weight 3 tons). On Saturdays, the bell tower can be reached with a guide.
City Archaeological Museum of Bologna
The masks of the pharaohs, preserved after 3,500 years, tombstones, burial urns, clay molds of statues, weapons, vases, coins and other treasures of the Celts, Etruscans, ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are presented in 18 rooms of the City Archaeological Museum.
A true paradise for archeology lovers, this museum has one of the best collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts in Europe.
The idea of creating a museum arose after the discovery of Etruscan burials in the area of the city cemetery.
The first exhibit with valuable finds was presented in the building of the Archimpressionary School in 1872, soon the collection was replenished with exhibits of the University of Bologna, and in 1881 the Archaeological Museum was opened in the Galvani Palace.
Thanks to modern technology, a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Bologna turns into an interactive journey through the world of ancient civilizations.
Europe is famous for its beautiful cemeteries, but the Certosa Monumental Cemetery in Bologna is so remarkable that it was even included in the travel itinerary of the main cultural heritage sites of Europe for young aristocrats.
There were Byron, Dickens, and Stendhal, and the description of the Certosa cemetery can be found in more than one European novel.
Until 1797, there was a Carthusian monastery, which was closed by order of Napoleon and converted into a city cemetery.
The Bologna aristocracy did not skimp on tombstones, so pretty soon the cemetery began to resemble a real museum.
So it remains today. Certosa Cemetery has become a resting place for many celebrities in Bologna, including castrato singer Farinelli, racer Maserati, Nobel laureate writer Josue Carducci.