The church of Santa Maria Maggiore, in Piazza Duomo, near Piazza Vecchia, in the center of the upper city, is a church built in the XII century in order to ask Mary to protect Bergamo from the plague. The external facades are in Romanesque style, but the interior is a real surprise: Baroque and rich decorated! The walls are decorated with large tapestries, someone also 6 meter long, and in the presbytery there is a wooden choir designed by Lorenzo Lotto. If you visit it don't forget to see also its electric organ and the tomb of Donizetti, the composer from Bergamo!
While walking the streets of Bergamo on a wet and dreary day, we came across this church and I think it is the Santa Maria Maggiore....if not, please can anyone correct me. We did not see anyone there, nor any signs to tell us.
What we did see and what attracted us were the collonaded windows that look almost like reinforced fighting positions in a castle or keep, this drew us inside and for sure we were glad that we dropped in.
I think that this is one of the few times we have entered a church to find it completely empty and quiet as a graveyard.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the biggest church in Città Alta and a top tourist attraction. Construction started in 1137 and building went on for some 200 years. But even in the 16th century important interior pieces were added.
The Colleoni Chappel is part of the building
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You could be forgiven, when entering the Piazza Duomo, that Santa Maria Maggiore is the Cathedral as it's the most imposing structure here - but it isn't.
If you enter the piazza from the Piazza Vecchia the Cathedral will be on your left and the Santa Maria Maggiore is straight in front of you.
If you're limited for time and want to only see one of the churches here I suggest you visit this one.
There's no entry charge and there were no restrictions on photography, although personally I don't use flash in these sort of places if I can avoid it.
If it's the building you've come to see, rather than the religious connection, then you won't be disappointed because there's an extravagant use of Baroque excess. You may love it or loathe it but you can't ignore it. Personally I liked it because there was an airiness about it all and not in the least bit sombre.
I definitely reccommend a visit in here but you don't need to spend ages, unless of course, you have a vested interest in this sort of thing.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, which dates back to the 12th century, is considered to be one of the finest buildings in Lombardy, and was probably my favourite of all those I saw in Bergamo. Less severe than the Duomo, its neighbour to the left, and more restrained than the Cappella Colleoni on its right, it seemed to me to strike a happy balance, with its beautiful pink and white marble porch set against a rather plain grey stone backdrop. This porch forms the main entrance, which, unusually for a church, is on the side of the building rather than the west front opposite the altar – this is because that side of the church is attached directly to the Bishop’s Palace, as we shall see.
The porch’s columns rest on the backs of pink marble Venetian lions (photo four). The arch (photo three) is decorated with hunting scenes. Above this a loggia houses statues of Santa Barbara, San Vincenzo (former patron saint of the Duomo) and Sant’Alessandro (to whom the cathedral is now dedicated). At the peak is a Gothic niche dating from 1403 by Hans von Fernach (photo two), with statues of the Madonna and Child (centre) Santa Ester (left) and Santa Grata (right. The latter was a local noble lady who was responsible for bringing the body of Sant’Alessandro to Bergamo’s Città Alta for burial after he was martyred – look closely and you will see that she holds his head on a cloth.
The basilica has another entrance on the opposite side, with a somewhat simpler porch – this one is supported by white marble lions rather than pink, and by some bearded men apparently straining under the weight (photo five). Both porches are by Giovanni da Campione
We didn’t go into the basilica on our city walk, but I returned on the Sunday with Chris for Mass, and took the opportunity to look round inside.
So let us detour from the tour now to check out the basilica’s interior.
We didn’t go into the basilica on our city walk, but I returned on the Sunday with Chris for Mass, and took the opportunity to look round inside. It is laid out on a Greek cross plan, reflecting its Romanesque origins, with wide transepts and a fairly short aisle. There is plenty to see and I’m sure we missed some of its treasures.
The apse (photo one) has a beautiful gold ceiling, and immediately above where the four arms of the cross meet is a richly decorated cupola from the 16th century (photo two). There are a number of Flemish and Florentine tapestries, some of which were being restored when we visited. At the back of the church is an elaborate white marble monument (above right) designed by Vincenzo Vela, marking the tomb of the composer Gaetano Donizetti, who was born in Bergamo and returned to die in the city. Nearby there is a monument to his teacher Simon Mayr – a nearby street is named for him.
I especially liked the frescoes in the right transept – photo three shows one of the Tree of Life, dating from the 14th century, partially over-painted by a later 17th century one. I was also taken by this more modern sculpture of a young girl (photo four) though could find no sign explaining her presence here.
Right next door to the Basilica is the ornate Capella Colleoni which Chris and I also visited later in the weekend.
"Porta della Fontana" is the western side entrance to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. It is work of famous Venitian architect Pietro Isabello and is made in Renaissance style.
This right transept's porch is supported by two lions in white marble. It has reliefs with Christ crowned by saints and birth of the baptist. In the lunette it has a fresco of "Mary's nativity" which is atributed to Andrea Previtali.
As already said, the church can be accessed by two entrances, one which is next to Colleoni Chapel was made by Giovanni da Campione and the other called "Porta della Fontana", on the western side (next to Tempietto di Santa Croce), was made by Pietro Isabello.
In the presbytery is a wooden choir designed by Bernardo Zenale, while the altar rail with wooden carvings was made to the designs of great Lorenzo Lotto. The right transepts has Giottesque frescoes from an unknown artist, with history of St. Aegidius, the last supper and the tree of life, al made in 1347 and partially covered by a 17th century fresco.
Worth of note is elaboratelly carved wooden confessional designed by Andrea Fantoni in 1704.
The interiors has maintained the original Romanesque Greek cross plan with a central nave and two side aisles divided by piers. The rich decoration, however, is largely from the 17th century and in Baroque style.
On the walls are tapestries, partly executed in Florance partly of the Flemish facture, depicting the life of Mary. Left of the entrance is the sepulchre of Cardinal Guglielmo Longhi, work of Ugo da Campione, on the rear wall is the tomb of the composer Gaetano Donizetti, work of Vincenzo Vela.
This is an ancient church, first built in 1137 on the site of an even older church. The interior has frescoes, tapestries, bronze candelabra and more...but it was the exterior which fascinated me.
There are two Romanesque lions (pink) at the main entrance and, if you walk to the rear porch (by Giovanni da Campione...1353..imagine!) of the basilica, you will find two more (white).
The carving on the main entrance is incredibly intricate, with each column having a different pattern.
There are other carvings all around the exterior.
Take time to wander around the exterior...and, if you are lucky, you will also be able to see the Tempietto di Santa Croce, tucked away behind the main building and dating from the 10th century..and maybe be able to access the most wonderfully-frescoed room adjacent to the main church (see 'off the beaten track' tips).
SM Maggiore is open 9-12.30 and 2.30-6 Monday to Saturday, and 9-1 and 3-6 on Sundays.
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore was built with the donations of the people who outlived the pestilence of 1133 who wanted to thank the Madonna. Constrcutions started in 1337 but many works were made along the centuries.
Inside the church there are many 14th century frescoes, 16th century paintings and several tapestry. The most famous works of art in Santa Maria Maggiore are the tarsias made on Lotto's cartoons, but they are usually covered to protect them and uncovered during a visit with a guide.
In contrast to the Capella Colleoni, the neighbouring Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore does not look that impressive. However, this church is full of medieval artwork and there are many details to discover. The church’s history can be traced back to roman times, when there was a temple on the same place. The present building is from 1137, with the belltower and the sacristy being from the 15th century. The church’s main style is romanesque in its own lombard from. Many gothic elements can also be found. It would take too long to name all the artworks of this church. But you should search carefully in- and outisde. This way, you will not only see obvious beauties like the 14th century entrances, but see details like old frescoes or small figurines. Note that the renaissance structures with the big dome are not part of the basilica, but a different church: The Capella Colleoni.
This is a wonderful masterpiece example of the Italian architecture and art. Its origins date back to the 12th century and apart form the majestic architecture it boasta wonderful examples of art in the interior. Well worth a visit.
A recent trip to Bergamo was not in my itinerary. It was a blessing that I decided to go around stroll the old town with my family and see the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. The church is situated in the Piazza del Duomo which is a few steps away from the Piazza Vecchia. In the picture you will see a display of the Lombard-Renaissance style of different coloured marbles. You can see how the basilica was designed with intricate carvings.
This and the interior is worth seeing. The basilica is a 'must see' and is just a stone-throw from other Bergamo tourist attractions.
In the Piazza del Duomo in Bergamo, just behind Piazza Vecchia, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore was begun in XIIth century as a Romanesque basilica. On the south and north sides are doorways guarded by lions. Inside there are fine choir-stalls in Renaissance style, Baroque stucco-work and big tapestries on the walls of the side-aisles and choir. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen a more abigarrated decoration. A blend of styles, yes, but the one which catch the eye is the Baroque. The church also contains the tomb of the composer Donizetti, who was from Bergamo.
En la Plaza del Duomo en Bergamo, justo detras de la Piazza Vecchia, la Basilica de Sta. Maria Maggiore, fue comenzada en el siglo XII como una basilica romanica. En lado norte y sur hay entradas guardadas por leones. Dentro hay detalles del coro de estilo renacentista, estucado barroco y enormes tapices en las paredes de los pasillos laterales y el coro. De hecho, creo que nunca he visto una decoracion mas abigarrada. Una mezcla de estilos, si, pero el que capta la atencion es el Barroco, sin duda. La iglesia tambien contiene la tumba del compositor de opera Donizetti, que era natural de Bergamo.