The walls of Ber­ga­mo. Four cen­tu­ries of hi­sto­ry

The Key to Bergamo Tourist Magazine - - Front Page -

The al­mo­st thir­ty years it took to build the walls of Ber­ga­mo con­firm the im­por­tan­ce the Re­pu­blic of Ve­ni­ce at­tri­bu­ted to this work. The Re­pu­blic see­med un­con­cer­ned about the ex­pen­se not on­ly be­cau­se it wi­shed to se­cu­re Ber­ga­mo, but al­so be­cau­se it wan­ted to gua­ran­tee and streng­then the de­fen­ces of its do­mi­nion on land near the bor­ders, whi­ch coin­ci­ded wi­th the ri­ver Ad­da. Ber­ga­mo was cho­sen for its stra­te­gic po­si­tion at the mou­th of two val­leys - Brem­ba­na and Se­ria­na - and al­so to pro­tect the city and its tra­de. Ber­ga­mo was in fact an im­por­tant tra­ding cen­tre for goods bet­ween the port of Ve­ni­ce and Val­tel­li­na and cen­tral Eu­ro­pe. The in­ha­bi­tan­ts of Ber­ga­mo paid dear­ly for this se­cu­ri­ty. Al­mo­st a quar­ter of the hou­ses in the city on the hill (ap­pro­xi­ma­te­ly 250 buil­dings) we­re de­mo­li­shed, and its an­cient ap­pea­ran­ce was com­ple­te­ly chan­ged. The Ber­ga­ma­sk peo­ple tried in vain to pre­vent this uphea­val, but on 31 Ju­ly 1561 the Go­ver­nor Ge­ne­ral, Count Sfor­za Pal­la­vi­ci­no, en­te­red the city and im­me­dia­te­ly ga­ve the or­ders for work to com­men­ce. Four thou­sand de­mo­li­tion wor­kers we­re em­ployed, whi­le a guard of 550 sol­diers wat­ched over the stree­ts and squa­res to pre­vent di­sor­der. Ac­cor­ding to the ini­tial pro­ject, work should on­ly have con­ti­nued for a few mon­ths, enou­gh to ma­ke a se­ries of ram­parts and reu­se and rein­for­ce the old walls. The ori­gi­nal plan was in­stead quic­kly aban­do­ned, and it was de­ci­ded to build a com­ple­te­ly new sto­ne wall along the en­ti­re cour­se, whi­ch was ul­ti­ma­te­ly al­mo­st

ki­lo­me­tres. six

The lie of the land was to­tal­ly chan­ged. Slo­pes we­re tran­sfor­med in­to escar­p­men­ts, dips we­re built up, hills we­re le­vel­led. In or­der to re­tain the ground, the great walls re­qui­red foun­da­tions and sup­port ar­ches, but in spi­te of this the­re we­re col­lap­ses and sub­si­den­ce whi­le do­zens of sto­ne- cut­ters cut the lar­ge blocks of sand­sto­ne. The­re we­re even er­rors of cal­cu­la­tion. The San Lo­ren­zo Ga­te, for exam­ple, was po­si­tio­ned too low do­wn and jud­ged to be in­de­fen­si­ble: in 1605 it was clo­sed and reo­pe­ned 25 years la­ter af­ter a new, mo­re mo­de­st ga­te was built. To­day it stands out again­st the green of the val­ley wi­th fields of vi­nes and young oli­ve trees. Work con­ti­nued for al­mo­st thir­ty years wi­th long in­ter­rup­tions du­ring whi­ch it see­med that Ve­ni­ce, ha­ving mo­di­fied its stra­te­gy, no lon­ger at­ta­ched great im­por­tan­ce to the for­tress of Ber­ga­mo. The com­mit­ment and costs rose enor­mou­sly and the Re­pu­blic had to fa­ce the gro­wing th­reat of the Tur­ki­sh; the walls we­re com­ple­ted on­ly in 1588. Work on de­fen­ces con­ti­nued ho­we­ver, be­cau­se San Vi­gi­lio Ca­stle nee­ded to be ra­di­cal­ly al­te­red. Lo­ca­ted on a hill be­hind the city, the ca­stle was a key ele­ment in its de­fen­ce. A co­ve­red road con­nec­ted the ca­stle to San Mar­co Fort, a po­wer­ful struc­tu­re whi­ch, wi­th mi­li­ta­ry quar­ters and po­w­der ma­ga­zi­nes, com­ple­ted the pe­ri­me­ter of the up­per walls. In­si­de the for­tress the­re we­re mi­li­ta­ry quar­ters, po­w­der ma­ga­zi­nes and an ar­se­nal, whi­le along the walls do­zens of can­nons in­si­de special ca­se­ma­tes we­re po­si­tio­ned to stri­ke the ene­my du­ring an at­tack. The can­nons we­re con­si­de­red the so- cal­led “ac­ti­ve de­fen­ce”, whi­le the thick walls, their steep si­des and the dit­ch that ran in front ma­de up the “pas­si­ve de­fen­ce”. Wi­th one hun­dred can­nons moun­ted on the ram­parts, the for­tress of Ber­ga­mo was now rea­dy, but for­tu­na­te­ly for the city and the in­ha­bi­tan­ts of Ber­ga­mo, the walls we­re ne­ver nee­ded. In De­cem­ber 1796 troops from Na­po­leon’s ar­my ar­ri­ved and the city fell wi­thout a sin­gle shot being fi­red. To­day the Walls are can­di­da­tes to be­co­me a Une­sco World He­ri­ta­ge for its hi­sto­ri­cal and ar­ti­stic va­lue, a pa­th ta­ken in 2007 that has fi­nal­ly got to its fi­nal sta­ge. The Une­sco World He­ri­ta­ge no­mi­na­tion en­lists the Walls wi­thin the se­rial and trans­na­tio­nal si­te na­med “Ve­ne­tian for­ti­fi­ca­tions bet­ween XV and XVII Cen­tu­ry”.

n n n n n Ba­luar­do di San Gia­co­mo, il cui ele­men­to for­te è la Il percorso, su­pe­ra­to

n n

Newspapers in Italian

Newspapers from Italy

© PressReader. All rights reserved.