Colleoni Chapel, Bergamo

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  • Colleoni Chapel
    Colleoni Chapel
    by BergamoInsider
  • The Colleoni Chapel
    The Colleoni Chapel
    by EasyMalc
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    Twiddly columns
    by leics
  • BergamoInsider's Profile Photo

    Colleoni Chapel: a mausoleum rich of symbols!

    by BergamoInsider Updated Dec 17, 2013
    Colleoni Chapel

    The Colleoni's chapel is the mausoleum of Bartolomeo Colleoni, a military leader that made this chapel build as tomb for himself and for his daughter Medea. In the chapel there is a wonderful golden wood statue of Colleoni that shows all the respect he won with its military campaigns, and a lot of statue and low reliefs full of symbols which refer to the catholic history but also to Greek and Roman legends. It is a very beautiful chapel that needs to be visit, better with a guide that can explains you all the meanings it hides.

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    Chapella Coleoni

    by pieter_jan_v Written Jan 2, 2013
    Chapella Coleoni - Bergamo
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    This Chapel was constructed in the 15th century as a tomb for Baryolomeo Colleoni.
    It's one of the most important architectual pieces of Lombard art.

    Opening hours:
    Mo-Su: 9AM - 0:30PM; 2:30PM - 6:30PM

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  • EasyMalc's Profile Photo

    A Mercenary's Mausoleum

    by EasyMalc Updated Oct 25, 2012

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    The Colleoni Chapel

    This extravagant building is the final resting place of one Bartolomeo Colleoni, a mercenary from Bergamo at the time when the city was under Venetian control..
    The entrance is to the right of the main entrance of Santa Maria Maggiore.
    This outstanding early renaissance building is just as elaborate inside as it is outside, so do make an effort to go in, especially as it's free. Photography isn't allowed and it's not huge (after all it is only a burial chapel) but its definitely worth checking out even if you couldn't care less who Colleoni was.

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    Capella Colleoni

    by toonsarah Updated Aug 6, 2012

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    Bartolomeo Colleoni was one of the most influential men in Bergamo’s history, a military leader who defended his home city on behalf of the republic of Venice in the 15th century. He was a condottiero – the condottieri being medieval military leaders in Italy who worked for the powerful ruling factions, often for high payments. Colleoni was unusual in that he remained steadfast to one employer, the republic of Venice, for most of his career, rather than swapping allegiance to make his fortune (he did have a brief period serving Milan, but they mistrusted and imprisoned him, so on his release he returned to serving Venice).

    But make his fortune he did, nevertheless. During the later years of his life he spent it on a castle at Malpaga to the south of Bergamo, as a home for him and his family, but also on charitable works and agricultural improvements – when he was not fighting! And he also spent it on what he considered to be a fitting memorial so that he would not be forgotten after his death. It certainly worked – the Capella Colleoni is unmissable and everyone who comes to Bergamo is likely to utter the name of Colleoni at least once (of course it helps that the main street in Alta is named for him too!)

    Such was Colleoni’s power and budget, he was able to arrange for the sacristy of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore to be demolished to make way for his funerary chapel, which he wanted to be more beautiful and more magnificent than all other monuments in Bergamo.. The chapel was built between 1472 and 1476 and designed to harmonise with the architecture of the Basilica. It was designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo and has been likened to a jewel box because of its ornate pink and white marble façade decorated with pillars and statues. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Italy, and for some might be possibly a bit “over the top”, but I really liked it! The exterior is a riot of decoration in pink and white marble, with angels, lattice work, pinnacles, flowers and foliage, and little flourishes everywhere. I also loved the ornate fence around the entrance – see photo four for a detail.

    No photos are allowed inside, unfortunately. It is almost as ornate as the exterior, and rather small, so the effect is a little over-powering. But it’s well worth going in to see Colleoni’s tomb, which, tradition says, he asked to be positioned so that the sun illuminated it when it shone through the circular window. The large marble sarcophagus is decorated with scenes from the life of Christ, and above it is a gilded wooden statue representing Colleoni on horseback. He holds a baton of command, the original of which lies alongside his body in the tomb. On the back wall is a tomb containing the body of Colleoni’s favourite daughter Medea, who died, aged just 16, five years before her father’s death. This tomb was added much later and her body reburied there.

    The chapel is open Tues – Sun 9.00 – 12.30 and 14.00-16.30 (till 18.00 in summer months) – closed Mondays.

    The remaining building on the Piazza Duomo is the Baptistery.

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    Alta: Make sure you rub a testicle...

    by leics Updated Jun 18, 2011

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Which is church, which is chapel?
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    The Cappella Colleoni makes a very strong statement about the person who had it built. Its entrance adjoins that of Santa Maria Maggiore, is much, much bigger and much, much more impressive.

    The chapel was built in the 1470s, commissioned by one Bartolomeo Colleoni (a mercenary soldier from the city) and designed by Giovanni Amadeo. Its exterior columns are twiddled, twirled and covered with intertwined patterning and the whole facade is a riot of decorative features.

    The interior (no photos allowed) is also highly decorated, with sculptures, paintings, coloured stonework and gilding.

    To me, the whole place was just too overwhelming to be impressive. I enjoyed the Romanesque lions and carvings of SM Maggiore much more. The chapel is also quite small, so try to time your visit for when there are no tour groups.

    For centuries it was thought that Colleoni was actually buried elsewhere, but in 1969 they found his coffin underneath his empty sarcophagus.

    Colleoni is supposed to have had 3 testicles (much more likely he just had a hydrocele). his coat-of-arms reflected this and if you look at the gates as you enter you'll see the 'testicles' are bright and shiny. The third testicle has been rubbed 'for luck' for centuries....so make sure you rub it too!

    Closed on Mondays. Other opening times:

    March - October:0900-1230, 1400-1830.
    November - February: 0900-1230, 1400-1630.

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    Capella Colleoni - Colleoni Chapel

    by suvanki Updated Jul 5, 2010

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    Capella Colleoni
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    Bartolomeo Colleoni was born in 1400 at Solza, in the countryside outside of Bergamo, into a militant aristocratic family. Aged 19, he began his illustrious career as a Condottieri - (an Italian mercenary/ Soldier of fortune). His first major engagement was in 1424, at the battle of Aquila. The majority of his service was spent fighting for Venice, though he was known to change sides (particularly for higher salaries, or promotion) eventually being bestowed the highest title Command- in-chief, as peace was finally won between The Venetian Republic and Milan.

    Venice didn't want to lose Colleonis services, so he was 'kept happy' with lavish gifts, lucrative contracts and given a share of any booty. This brought him riches and properties. His favourite residence was the castle of Malpaga. It became the centre of a lavish court where artists and men of letters were frequent guests, along with his comrades-in -arms.

    Colleoni had ambitions for his name to be remembered long after his death, and had made a large payment to Venice to help fund their war against Turkey, with instructions that a statue of him be placed in front of San Marco. For various reasons this wasn't possible, but the quick thinking Venetians decided that he hadn't stipulated THE San Marco Piazza, and found a spot in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, in front of the Scuola San Marco! (I've walked past this statue quite a few times now)

    He also had his eye on the prestigious site of St Maria Maggiore for his final resting place. A spate of charity work in and around Bergamo still wasn't enough to pursuade the canons of the Basilica to allow this. Colleoni simply had his soldiers demolish the sacristy of Santa Maria Maggiore.

    Work began on his mausoleum in 1472, the architect being the highly esteemed sculptor/architect - Giovanni Antonio Amadeo. He aimed to make this piece blend in with the other buildings, which he achieved by matching the facade to that of the Basillicas doorway, with tarsia and polychrome marble decorations in white, red and black lozenges.

    Over the main portal is a stunning rose window. (pic 4) and either side, are two medallions portraying Julius Caesar and Trajan.

    The four pilasters of the windows which flank this portal hold statues of the Virtues.
    The upper part of the façade has a Romanesque style loggia.

    The upper part of the basement has nine bas- reliefs of Biblical stories, and four depicting Hercules's deeds. Decorative garlands, columns and pillars are also features of this awe inspiring facade, making it one of the best examples of Rennaisance art in Northern Italy. Its proportions and detail are unusual for the period that's known for its more formal architecture.

    Colleoni died on November 2nd 1475 at the age of 75, achieving the rare feat for a Condottieri, of dying at a respectable age, and not on the battlefield.

    Inside the chapel, facing the entrance, is the tomb of Colleoni. Situated under a Trimphal Arch.
    His remains are in a sarcophagus, which is embellished with 5 panels depicting the life of Christ.

    Above this is a smaller sarcophagus, containing the remains of his wife Thisbe.

    A gilded wooden statue of Colleoni on horseback, is the centrepiece, which was completed by the German Master craftsmen, Sisto and Syri of Nurumberg , in 1501.

    During his life Colleoni had sired 8 daughters, not all bourne by Thisbe!
    His youngest (and his favourite), Medea, was born when he was 54. Sadly, she died aged 16, on March 6, 1470, 5 years before her fathers demise.

    Her tomb is on the left hand side wall. This was designed by Amadeo himself.
    Under the tomb are carved cherubs, with mischievous faces! The tomb has 3 front panels with one containing the Colleoni coat of arms- more about this later! and the central - Deposition from the Cross.
    The statue of Medea, is quite serene, as she lies in repose, with her hands folded over a decorative gown. Sitting atop a marble inscribed plinth are 3 figures- central is The Madonna and Child, flanked by Saint Catherine and Saint Chiara
    The tomb was transferred here in 1892 from Urgnano.

    The chapel is dedicated to 3 saints- John, Mark and Bartholomew. Statues representing this trio by Pietro Lombardo are housed in a high altar, which was sculpted by Bartolomeo Manni in 1676. The altar table was designed by Leopoldo Pollack, and features supporting angels, that were carved by Grazioso Rusca.

    Look for the frescoes in the dome, depicting events in the lives of the 3 saints, by the renowned Giambattista Tiepolo, who painted them during 1732-1733.

    The Sacra Famiglia (Sacred Family) by M.A. Kauffmann;
    Wooden pews with carvings by G.A Sanz and biblical marquetry inlay work by Giacomo Caniana (1773)

    Opening times:
    March to October: Daily, 9a.m-12.30a.m; 2:00p.m – 6.30p.m.
    November to February: Daily 9a.m-12.30a.m; 2:00p.m – 4.30p.m.
    Closed Mondays.

    Strictly no photographs! Though I managed to sneak one from outside, when both doors were open (pic 2)

    There is a gift shop inside, selling a range of post-cards, guide books etc. I purchased a small guide book, but didn't check until later, that it was completely in Italian.-

    Now back to that Colleoni coat of Arms!! Another place that you can see it is on the entrance gate, where a verdi gris angel is holding the heraldic shield, which has 3 polished tear or comma shaped orbs

    Colleoni also used the name Coglioni - which is the Italian for testicles, and the pronunciation is similar to Colleoni- Well as a brave soldier we'd say "He had Balls"! Then again, Colleoni, had more than most men!- he had 3 testicles!
    So, he was a polyorchid (Having more than 2 testicles)!

    After winning his first battle, he adopted this as his coat of arms, along with the motto - "Need".

    Later, they were altered to Lion heads, as he believed he was descended from Hercules!!

    Ok - so these commas are testicles - and they're shiny because apparently rubbing them, brings Good Luck/ Strength / added Virility etc etc etc.(pic 5)

    I took the photo (3) without realising anything about this story - I think you have to visit Bergamo to touch this shield - rubbing the screen doesn't work!!!!

    Well worth a visit!

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    History and curiosities

    by juzz Updated Sep 15, 2007

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    Let's start from curiosities ;)
    just in front of Cappella Colleoni you'll find an iron gate where you'll notice a zone brighter like it has been polished recently. It hasn't been, but ppl touch it because they think it brings good luck. That's Colleoni's emblem: three testicles. It's is probably a legend but ppl think he had 3 testicles :)
    Ok, now some history :p
    Bartolomeo Colleoni was a great leader of mercenary troops who was born in 1400 in a village near bergamo. He fought for the Republic of Venice and for Milan, often changing his master. He had been living in his castle in the village of Malpaga and he was one of the most powerful men in Bergamo, as you can imagine looking at his chapel, whose front is totally covered with precious marble. His power allowed him to pull down the sacristy of the ancient church of Santa Maria Maggiore making space for a chapel in which beeing buried with his family, in the most glamorous corner of the town. You must bear in mind that Santa Maria Maggiore was (and perhaps it's still) the favourite and beloved church for ppl in Bergamo, see my tip about it to discover why ;)

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    Capella Colleoni

    by Airpunk Written Sep 4, 2007

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    Capella Colleoni

    The colleoni chapel is a masterwork of lombardian renaissance art. It was built between 1472 and 1476 as a mausoleum for Bartolomeo Colleoni, member of an influential family. The building is located next to the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, so that these two buildings look like a strange complex. The church is the burial church for some members of the Colleoni family and you will se a couple of their artfully decorated tombs there. Perhaps the most outstanding part is the dome, which is the eyecatcher seen from outside. Inside, there you can see a beautiful 18th century fresco in it. The façade is kept in bright colours, mainly white and pastell colours, but also back marble is used. The medaillons next to the rose window depict the roman emperors Iulius Caesar and Trajan.

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    View of Capella Colleoni

    by freddie18 Updated Apr 10, 2007

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    A View of Capella Colleoni
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    Capella Colleoni is annexed to Basilica de Santa Maria de Magiorre located at the old Piazza del Duomo in the Citta Alta. The chapel was built many years ago, 1476 to be exact, by a military hero and a native of Bergamo, Bartolomeo Colleoni. Bartolomeo built it to serve as his own mausoleum. The amazing part of the chapel are the Frescoes on the ceiling as well as statue and sculptures.

    Colleoni Chapel is a fine example of Rennaisance decoration and architecture. You will not miss the chapel once you are in Piazza del Duomo. Take a walk and enjoy the narrow street of the Upper City.

    For your convenience, I am posting the visiting schedule of the Colleoni Chapel:

    March - October (Daily)
    9:00AM-12:30PM
    2:00PM-6:30PM

    November - February (Daily but Closed on Mondays)
    9:00AM-12:30PM
    2:00PM-4:00PM

    Admission is FREE

    Enjoy your tour!

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  • jessy&tessa's Profile Photo

    THE COLLEONI’S CHAPEL

    by jessy&tessa Written Aug 29, 2006

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    from the civic tower
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    In the south side of piazza Duomo there is the Colleoni chapel near the church of Santa Maria. Under the pillars that flank the front, there are some episodes of the life of Ercole. On the two windows and beside the enter there are feminine statues of the virtues. Very important is the central rose window on which is collocated the Colleoni’s statue

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    Rich condottiero tomb

    by hojasdehierba Written Feb 15, 2006

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    Marble facade

    Adjoining Santa Maria Maggiore is the Capella Colleoni in early Renaissance style, with a lavishly decorated marble facade, built in XVth century to house the tomb of the condottiero Bartolomeo Colleoni. Inside are the tombs of Colleoni and his daughter Medea, both by Amadeo; there are also beautiful ceiling paintings by Tiepolo (XVIIIth century). The façade is really beautiful although the photo is not good. It opens from 9-12.30 and from 14.00-18.00, with a more restricted opening time at winter. Admission is free.
    Pegada a Santa Maria Maggiore esta la Capella Coleoni, realizada en estilo renacentista temprano, con una fachada de marmol lujosamente decorada. Fue construida a finales del siglo XV para albergar la tumba del codottiero Bartolomeo Colleoni. Dentro estan las tumbas del propio Colleoni y de su hija Medea, ambas realizadas por Amadeo; tambien hay unas hermosas pinturas en el techo, que son obra de Tiepolo y datan del siglo XVIII. La fachada es muy bonita, aunque la foto no es buena. Abre de 9-12,30 y de 14.00-18.00, con un horario mas restringido. La entrada es libre

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    Colleoni Chapel

    by croisbeauty Updated Jul 30, 2005

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    Colleoni Chapel
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    The Colleoni Chapel was encased into the church of Santa Maria Maggiore during the years 1473-76. The strong medieval touch of the S. Maria Maggiore church is counterbalanced by this Renaissance jewel which harmonises beautifully trough its cromatic effect with the essential simplicity of the older church.
    The refined play of colour and the multiple elements of the decorations of the chapel, underlining the themes of the life of the Condottiero Colleoni and his personal characteristics. Colleoni had performed works of charity in Bergamo, and of peace. For Venice, he had been great Condottiero, and had possessed great military strategic knowledge.
    There are great many of artistic works inside the chapel to be admired, in particularly, tomb of Bartolomeo Colleoni and bas-reliefs of sculptor Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, who is also architect of the chapel, but most of all the works of Gian Battista Tiepolo; "Baptism of Jesus" and his female figures frescoes in the dome vault.

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    Colleoni Chapel

    by irisbe Updated May 23, 2005

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    Colleoni Chapel

    This Chapel is build in Renaissance style, matching well attached to the older more simple style of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore.

    This construction (1473-1476) is actually encased into the Basilica.
    It was meant to hold Colleoni's sepulchral monument and even almost caused the demolition of the Palazzo della Ragione!
    Inside bas-relief art by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo (architect of the chapel); lots of fresco's; statues; the Medea's tomb by Amadeo Medea (Colleoni's favourite daughter died at the age of 15)




    No photography inside was allowed and there was surveiance.
    You could listen to a bad quality audiophone if you put some money in the automat.
    The explication was monotomous and hardly to understand if there was any other interfering noise in the chapel (which there was). I didn't recall anything of what was said.

    There is a little stand where you could by some postcards and a guide at fair price.

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    Colleoni Chapel

    by Mahieu Updated Jan 22, 2004

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    inside Colleoni Chapel

    The Chapel is joined to the northern part of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica and is one of the pearls of the Lombard Renaissance. It was built in 1472 by Bartolomeo Colleoni as a funeral chapel for himself. The chapel is fabulously ornated with pink and white marble. Inside there are many beautiful paintings to admire.

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    Piazzo del Duomo

    by sim1 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Piazzo del Duomo


    Lets walk through the arches of the palazzo, and take a look at the Piazza del Duomo.

    And this is what you will see : the Capella Colleoni. It is so beautiful! It is a renaissance chappel from the 15th century, designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo. The colours and the details are wonderful to look at!

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