We popped in while exploring around Bergamo Citta Alta and it is beautiful inside. There are huge fresco's on the back wall but when we visited they had close up photos of them on display so you could see the detail.
The northern protiro of the basilica was built by Giovanni da Campione between the years 1451 and 1353. The sculptor-architect had wanted to give this portal a particular chronatic hue, maybe because it was facing north and ancient heart of the city.
In building it, Campione had combined three colours of marble: red, white and black, giving some kind of predominance to the first colour, the warm one. Red are the lions and the columns which support the arch. The wall that clads the arch is white and red whilst three colours cover the vault.
The steps are white and black, thus had the architect underlined the difference in levels of the piazzetta.
Above the arch there is a loggia, divided into three parts, housing the Statue of Sant' Alessandro on horseback between the two saints, Barnaba and Proiettizio. In the higher niche above stands the statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child between the two saints Esteria and Grata.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was built on the site of the former small church of Santa Maria, on which there is news as far back as the year 774, was probably the end-result of the devotion of the faithful, perhaps after a plague.
The exterior of the basilica is the only one that had maintained medieval characteristics.
The nothern protiro, which faces the Piazzetta del Duomo, and is situated left of the Colleoni Chapel, was designed and built by Giovanni da Campione between the years 1351 and 1353.
On the southern side of the church (on this picture) stands out another protiro, which is less chromatic then the first, but not less lacking in colour effects, it is also work by Campione of 1360.
The Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore was built on the location of a smaller church named Santa Maria. The last one already mentioned in 774.
The new Basilica was designed by the architect (maestro) Fredo and the construction works started in 1137.
Probably it was built out of devotion after a severe plague that hit Bergamo earlier.
If they knew what other terrible plague was holding the future for them!
(If you visit La Rocca you will be able to have a look at the demographic changes throughout history. Very interesting!)
The exterior of the church alone is already worth some of your precious time to analyse: two main portals (see also the other picture on next tip); the roof, the Medieval character (what a contrast with the interior!), complimented with some newer additions.
The Colleoni Chapel next to it almost meant the demolition of this beautiful building.
Colleoni wanted to use the old vestry of the basilica for his sepulchral (tombe monument)monument.
He promised he would rebuild it afterwards… bigger and more beautiful.
His melomanic dream came to an end when in 1475 he died, aged 80.
On the picture (please click on it as it is panoramic):
1.basilica and cathedral
2-4. overwhelming decorations, started in 16th century and on
5. Baroque confessional by Andrea Fantoni - inspired by the topic of the Confession
6. Monument dedicated to Gaetano Donizetti, created by Vincenzo Vela (1855).
This basilica is just breath thaking.
When I visited I didn't knew where to look first.
If you want to enjoy it to the fullest, take at least an hour of your time to look around and let all this Baroque interior get a hold on you!
The monument on the picture was created for Cardinal Guglielmo Longhi by Ugo da Campione (1319-1320).
Original it was housed in the convent of S. Francesco but when that was suppressed it moved to the Basilica in 1839.
The ”Story of S. Eligio”, as shown on the picture, is one of the frescoes you can admire in the Southern transept.
Other topics of admiration is the other 13th century fresco right above it of the Last Supper.
Saint Eloy is the patronage of the goldsmiths.
He was born in 588 in Limoges in France and he was an excellent pupil and learned how to become a good blacksmith.
The story goes he once took off a horse leg and took it in the work place and added a new horse shoe, then he simply screwed the leg back unto the horse.
His boss wanted to copy it but when he cut off a horse leg, the horse began to bleed.
It only stopped after Saint Eloy told his boss to remove a sign above his door spelling”the master of all masters”.
When he did so, the horse stopped bleeding and happily galloped away.
That was the legend!
The real story is that Eloy became famous working on gold and he was assigned to be in charge of making the golden money coins for Chlotarius II and Dagobert I, all from the Merovingian era.
Chlotarius let himself made a golden throne by Eloy and gave him plenty of gold. Eloy: “as honest as gold”, returned the left over gold after finishing this piece. Very unusual honest behaviour!
He became famous and had a big influence on the court. He used his influence to support the church and the poor. The less fortunate people admired him for his actions.
In 639 he became priest an in 641 he became bishop of Noyon and Tournai.
He died on 1 December 695.
1st of December is the date he is remembered each year.
When Caroline and I entered the Basilica, we where astonished by all the decorations! It was so outrageous! It was so beautiful!
There were also some wall carpets hanging and they immediately caught my eye.
Coming from a country with a great historical reputation of wall tapestry is not so unusual to be attracted by one. I scented… this must be Belgian… you know? Sometimes you have that feeling of recognizing home?
I was right, there were different ones. The Crucifixion, a 17th century Flemish tapestry, was designed by Louis van Schoor (1666-1726) and fabricated by J. Regelbrugge.
The tapestry on the picture is part of what is called the Antwerp trilogy. It is called in Italian: Mosè nel Roveto Ardente
They newly got restored in 1998 by the Centro Restauri Manufatti Tessili di Francesco Pertegato, sponsored by the Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato e Agricoltuta di Bergamo.
Outside sculptures of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
It is worth to walk around the building and have a look as well at the backside of the basilica. (Thank you Titti for this wonderful tip!)
The Southern portal is designed by Campione and dates from 1360.
Two white lions and two telamons support the vault.
Above you can see depictured Jesus and his 12 disciples.
On the photo (pls click on it to enjoy the full view):
1. Left top: one of the lions of the Northern portal
2. middle one of the telamons supporting the vault.
3. left bottom: one of the white lions supporting the vault
4-5: right top and bottom: a detail of the sculpture of Jesus and his 12 apostels.
To me, this basilica is the most beautiful monument of Bergamo. You can admire it on the Piazza del Duomo, just next to the Piazza Vecchia. It was erected in the 1100's as an offering to the Madonna. The Basilica has maintained its originary Roman-Greek cross shape. The northern entrance, which faces the Piazza del Duomo, was designed and built by Giovanni da Campione between the years 1351 and 1353. It is a combination of 3 kinds of marble: red, white and black.
On the right side of "Piazza Vecchia" - the Citta Alta central square - take the stairs up to the Bell Tower where you can enjoy the most beautiful view over Piazza del Duomo. The price is about 2 Euros.
From the top, you can take a breathtaking look at the whole Medieval town, surrounded by the Pre-Alps.
Santa Maria Maggiore was built in 1100 attached to the cappella Colleoni. It's a beautiful church (basilica actually) outside, in romanic style. The columns with lions and human figures are really interesting. Inside I found it a bit disappointing: the interior is baroque, a style too richly ornated for my taste. There is also an important collection of tapestries to see, and they are really nice. The final resting place of the musician Gaetano Donizetti is here in this church, too.
On the left of the Capella Colleoni you can see the Santa Maria Maggiore church. They started building this church in the 12th century. This is the beautiful entrance to the church.