Skyscrapers from the year one thousand, of upper Bergamo Also known as the “Campanone”
Visitors arriving in Bergamo from the plain will certainly be impressed by the towers and belfries that characterise the skyline of the old hilltop city, which make it one of the most unique sights not just in Lombardy, but the entire Alpine area. It is an image that, particularly in the case of the towers, takes one far back in time to recall an ancient history. They are known as the “skyscrapers” of the year one thousand. Many years ago there were many more; those rising up above the roofs of the old city are survivors from the Middle Ages. Built by powerful families, these house- towers were used for defence purposes, but they were also a symbol of prestige. During the time of conflict between the factions of the Guelphs, who supported the Pope, and the Ghibellines, who were on the side of the Holy Roman Emperor, Bergamo was the stage for bloody clashes, ambushes and attacks. The towers were not only used for withstanding long sieges, but also for controlling the movements of opponents and attacking them from above. The most evident example is the majestic tower that stands in the heart of the old city at the site of the most important crossroads of Roman Bergamo, where the cardo (the north- south oriented road) met the decumanus (the street running east-west). The Gombito Tower took its name from this crossroads, which has remained unchanged over the centuries. It appears as an almost windowless building, with a fortified residence alongside that once belonged to the family that built it. The Gombito Tower is also open to the public. In summer and at particular times, a guide will take visitors to the top - but the whole climb must be carried out on foot. Originally 64 metres high, in the nineteenth century it was reduced to its current 52 metres for safety reasons, but even at this height, visitors are struck by its compact bulk made up of large blocks of stone. Nearby Piazza Mercato del Fieno also features a well preserved example of a housetower, which is, in fact, made up of two towers. Windows added in less bellicose times have softened its appearance. An elegant balcony in the solid wall, which is overlooked by a mullioned window, catches the eye. Similar buildings were once found all over the Medieval city, but today all that remains is the memory in ancient documents and some fragments of walls absorbed by other buildings. The tower belonging to the city’s first defences seems to welcome visitors to old Bergamo from Colle Aperto. This is the Adalberto Tower, which was named after the bishop who commissioned its construction. Another, even more mighty, tower stood not far away. Transformed into a belfry for the basilica housing the body of St. Alexander, the patron saint of Bergamo, it was demolished together with the church in 1561 when the Venetian Republic began building the walls. Four towers dominated the nearby Hill of San Giovanni and were part of the grand fortified construction called “Firma Fides”, which was built by the Visconti family, Lords of Milan. No trace is left of these two towers, nor another two situated on the slope below; only the Campanella Tower remains, which lies between the Cittadella (Citadel) and Piazza Mascheroni. Another very well known tower is the one dominating Piazza Vecchia, which has become a symbol of Città Alta (Upper Bergamo). This is the municipal tower. With a height of 54 metres, it was built by the powerful Suardi family who had to surrender it to the municipality. Transformed for civic uses, a bell was added, which for centuries marked time with city life. Following a very old tradition, the bell still sounds at 10 p.m. to mark the old curfew. It tolls with 180 powerful rings that the sounds of the modern city are unable to mask.
( big bell), it has a modern lift that takes visitors to the top, from where they can enjoy spectacular views.
bergam o alta
Bergamo innevata e vista dall’alto è molto suggestiva. La neve bianca sui tetti, la luce calda che delimita le vie della città alta ed accende le dimore e le chiese arroccate sul colle, creano un’atmosfera davvero magica.