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coat of arms
Bergamo (Italy)
Country Italy
region Lombardy
province Bergamo  (BG)
Local name Bèrghem
Coordinates 45 ° 42 ′  N , 9 ° 40 ′  E Coordinates: 45 ° 42 ′ 0 ″  N , 9 ° 40 ′ 0 ″  E
height 249  m slm
surface 38.7 km²
Residents 121,781 (Dec. 31, 2019)
Population density 3,147 inhabitants / km²
Post Code 24100
prefix 035
ISTAT number 016024
Popular name Bergamaschi, German mountain mask
Patron saint Alexander of Bergamo ( August 26 )
Bergamo collage.png

Bergamo ( Lombardy Bèrghem , Latin Bergomum ) is a city in the Italian region of Lombardy and the capital of the province of Bergamo . The Venetian city ​​walls of Bergamo have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017 .


Bergamo is about 50 kilometers northeast of Milan at the foot of the Alps on the border with the Po plain . The city itself has 121,781 inhabitants (as of December 31, 2019), the agglomeration (in the broader sense) has almost half a million inhabitants.

The old upper town ( Città Alta ) is 380 m above sea level. M. on a hill that is one of the last foothills of the Alps before they merge into the fertile Po plain. The lower town ( Città Bassa , also Città Borghi ) and some suburbs extend around the old town hill, both in the plain and over adjacent hills.

Bergamo, view from the Città Alta to the Città Bassa


According to Justin , the Gaul founded Bergamo after the Etruscans were driven out . According to Ptolemy , the city belonged to the tribe of the Cenomanians , according to Cato to the Orobi, who they called Parra .

The site was named by the Romans in 196 BC. Conquered and called Bergomum . He became a Municipium and belonged to the Voturia tribe. When the (Western) Roman Empire was in decline, Attila first made a failed invasion of Gaul in 451; then the Hun leader turned to northern Italy in 452 and conquered and plundered several cities there, including a. also Bergamo. In 460 the Western Roman army master Ricimer won a victory over the Alans near Bergamo .

In 569 Bergamo fell to Alboin and subsequently became the residence of one of the most important Lombard duchies. At the end of the 6th century, Duke Gaidulf von Bergamo tried in vain to make himself independent from the Longobard Empire . He was executed in 594. Rothari , the last Duke of Bergamo, sought the title of king in 701, but was defeated and killed by King Aripert II . This then converted Bergamo into a Gastaldat dependent on the capital Pavia . After the defeat of the Longobard King Desiderius against the Carolingian ruler Charlemagne (774), the city came under the rule of the Franks and became the seat of a count. In the 10th century there were members of the Giselbertine Counts of Bergamo, who made the city more important again. The influence of the counts declined towards the end of the 10th century and from 904 onwards Bergamo were ruled by pro-imperial bishops. Their reign came to an end when Bishop Arnulf was removed from office in the investiture dispute at the Milan Synod of 1098. Now the most influential families agreed to make Bergamo an aristocratic commune.

In 1156, Bergamo's hostilities with the nearby city of Brescia began and lasted for many years. In 1167 the Bergamaskers joined the Lombard League of Italian Communes , which was directed against Barbarossa . In 1183 this rebellion against the emperor's Italian policy was settled in the Peace of Constance and Barbarossa welcomed the next year when he entered Bergamo. Disputes between different parties involved in the government, made up of the most important urban families, endangered Bergamo's communal structure since the last decades of the 12th century. In 1206 a battle broke out between the Suardi family, who were inclined towards the Ghibellines, and the Rivola clan, who belonged to the Guelfs . Further party battles prompted the Bergamaski to found the Società del popolo in 1230 , which was supposed to prevent new clashes with 200 infantrymen.

In 1237 Bergamo fought on the side of Emperor Frederick II in the Battle of Cortenuova against the Lombard League. From 1261 to 1264 there was a fight against Guelfan Milan, which ended with the submission by the Torriani . At that time they exercised the signory in Milan and Filippo della Torre became Podestà of Bergamo in 1264 . In 1296 there was a civil war between the Colleoni and the Suardi. The latter had to flee, but were able to return with the help of the Visconti family, who had ruled Milan since 1277 . When King John of Bohemia moved to Italy, the Bergamans elected him Signor in 1331, but he only held this office for a few months, as he soon succumbed to Mastino II della Scala , Lord of Verona. In 1333, Azzo Visconti gave Bergamo a long-term connection with Milan. However, several times the most important Bergamos families tried to make themselves independent again, especially when Gian Galeazzo Visconti died in 1402. After the expulsion of the ducal vicar , Roger Suardi was elected governor, who passed Bergamo to Pandolfo III. Malatesta sold (1407), under whose rule the city flourished.

Bergamo, view of the upper Venetian city ​​wall

In 1419 Bergamo came to Filippo Maria Visconti , but a strong party sympathizing with the Republic of Venice agitated against the rule of the Visconti. Over the next few years, Milan and Venice alternately ruled Bergamo until the city finally fell to the lagoon metropolis in 1428. There were later multiple conquests of Bergamo by the French and Spaniards , in which the Venetians succeeded in recapturing. So the city was 1509 by Louis XII. captured, but regained by the Venetians as early as 1516, who from 1561 onwards particularly fortified the upper town and retained power until 1796.

After Napoleon's conquest of Northern Italy , Bergamo came to the Cisalpine Republic in 1797 as part of the dissolution of the Republic of Venice in the Peace of Campo Formio . After the fall of Napoleon, it had been Austrian since 1815 and shared the fate of the Lombard-Venetian kingdom . The further history of the city is related to the Risorgimento , with Bergamo having the largest share of Garibaldini in the so-called train of the thousand . As part of the Kingdom of Sardinia , it became the provincial capital of the Kingdom of Italy in 1859 and later of the newly created Italian state. In 1881 the city had 23,819, with the Borghi 33,977 inhabitants.

Until the time after the First World War , there were building regulations that guaranteed every inhabitant of the lower town an uninterrupted view of Bergamo Alta . Shortly before the end of the Second World War , the city was captured by the Allies and Italian partisans in late April 1945. Pope John XXIII came from the province of Bergamo and was rector of the seminary in Upper Bergamo . Even today there is a humanistic grammar school in the Città Alta , the large municipal library and the humanities faculties of the University of Bergamo (Università degli Studi di Bergamo), founded in 1960 .

In spring 2020, Bergamo was one of the regions in Europe most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with Lombardy .


Upper Town

View from San Vigilio to the historic center of the upper town
Piazza Vecchia
View from the city tower to the cathedral square. In the middle the Cappella Colleoni, on the left the north portal of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, on the right the stairs and the portal of the bishop's chapel

The upper town, Città Alta (Italian: città = city, alta = high), which is now a listed building, rises like an amphitheater on a hill and is completely surrounded by a five-kilometer-long city wall. The current walls date from the 16th century and contain several bastions . The center of the historic upper town is the Piazza Vecchia , where the medieval town hall Palazzo della Ragione with the city tower Torre Civica stands.

Behind it, on the Piazza del Duomo , the cathedral square, stands the Bergamo Cathedral ( Duomo di Bergamo ), the Cattedrale di Sant'Alessandro Martire , (originally built by Filarete, rebuilt several times from the 15th century) with a dome and classical facade .

The most striking building on the cathedral square with its Renaissance facade is the Cappella Colleoni .

To the left of the Cappella Colleoni is the church of Santa Maria Maggiore , an originally Romanesque (from 1173), later Baroque three-aisled gallery basilica with the monuments and graves of the composers Gaetano Donizetti and Johann Simon Mayr .

To the right of the Cappella Colleoni , a staircase leads to the former bishop's chapel , first mentioned in 1133 and designated as such in 1169, the Cappella di Santa Croce , with Romanesque frescoes. Not far from it, only to be seen from the city tower, is the Bishop's Palace from 1750 with a garden.

The Pankratius Church , Chiesa di S. Pancrazio , with a classicist interior, hardly noticeable from the outside , stands at the beginning of Via S. Pancrazio. In the pointed arched portal there is a fresco of a mercy seat , including stone reliefs of the Madonna and Child and St. Katharina and one St. Bishop.

The only Gothic church building in the Città Alta , the church of the Augustinian monastery (Ex Chiesa di Sant'Agostino) , is located in the east of the upper town.

In the east of Upper Bergamo there is also the small, outwardly inconspicuous church of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco, of Lombard
origin. It was mentioned as early as 774. The current building dates from the 14th century. The church is famous for the frescoes (12th to 16th centuries), especially the Lorenzo Lotto in the Marienkapelle, the Cappella della Madonna , left of the choir, from 1525. The church is now used for weddings. The three-room crypt is also decorated with frescoes.

In the corner between the cathedral and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore stands the Fontanone , built in 1342 by the Visconti as a cistern with a capacity of 22,000 hectoliters. In 1768, a portico was built above it based on a design by Constantino Gallizioli to store ancient Roman stones from the city. After renovations, the building has been the seat of the Ateneo di Scienze Lettere e Arti di Bergamo since 1818 , a society of students, scientists and artists that still promotes historical research and the art of Bergamo.

In the north of the upper town, on the Colle Aperto , is the small botanical garden ( Orto botanico "Lorenzo Rota" ) with native and exotic plants.

From the old fort on the San Vigilio hill to the northwest above the upper town you can enjoy an extensive view . A little below the fort is the Church of St. Vigilius .

Lower town

The Basilica of Sant'Alessandro in Colonna

In the lower town, the Città Bassa (ital. Città = city, bassa = lower, low), there are the Accademia Carrara , a collection of paintings with works by Botticelli , Rubens , Raffael , Pisanello and others, and the so-called Fiera , a large stone building with 540 stalls and a large hall in every corner where the famous Bartholomew's mass is held every year .

In Via Pignolo , which leads north from the center, there are Renaissance palazzi; one of them houses the Adriano Bernareggi Diocesan Museum. The late baroque-classical church of Sant'Alessandro in Colonna can also be found here. A little above the church there is a fountain of Neptune .

Upper and lower town are connected by Viale Vittorio Emanuele and, since 1887, by a funicular .


The dessert polenta e osei

Bergamo is known for its polenta . Taleggio is a soft cheese from a nearby mountain valley. Polenta e Osei is a dessert that is a miniature replica of a traditional dish, namely polenta with sparrows, which was popular until songbirds were banned. The dessert, however, does not consist of polenta, but of a biscuit mixture, the "birds" of marzipan.


Bergamo is home to a successful women's volleyball club : Foppapedretti Bergamo . The club won seven European Club Championship ( Indesit European Champions League ) events from 1996/1997 to 2009/2010 .

The serial champion in American football and one of the most successful teams in this sport at Italian and European level, the Bergamo Lions also play here.

As in the rest of Italy, football also plays an important role in the town. Atalanta Bergamo is an association of top division, the Serie A .

Cyclists like to train on the steep route between the lower and upper town.


The Bergamasque people distinguished themselves very early on through their commercial activities: they first introduced silkworm breeding in northern Italy , achieved a wide reputation for breeding sheep , supplied the best iron wire and also made important contributions to organ building . Today the city is known for its chemical industry, the manufacture of building materials, as well as for its research institutes, including the pharmacological research center IRCCS.


Orio Airport with an Alpine backdrop

Bergamo is located on the motorway A4 . By train , the journey time from Milan (Milano Centrale) is around 50 minutes. Next to the train station is the bus station, from where u. a. can also go to Milan.

Orio al Serio Airport ( IATA code BGY) is located on the south-eastern outskirts of the city and is being advertised by Ryanair as “Milan's third airport” after Linate and Malpensa . From Germany it is mainly served by low-cost airlines. The bus ride with regular city buses (line 1C) to the center takes about 20 minutes. There are also private bus routes from the airport to Milan and Malpensa Airport.

Public transport is mainly based on bus routes and two funiculars . Since spring 2009, the upside Bergamo-Albino light rail to Bergamo Station .

Funicular to the Città Alta

Porta Nuova and Città Alta
Funicular to the Upper Town
View of Bergamo from the funicular
Share of Funicolare Bergamo Alta - Monte S. Vigilio SA from February 1, 1911

From 1880 the city looked for a transport solution to free the hilltop upper town from its isolation and commercial crisis, which had occurred after the expansion and development of the modern, ever expanding lower town. The city ​​council also moved to the Sentierone zone of the lower town. After a long discussion, the proposal of the engineer Alessandro Ferretti was accepted. He was commissioned to build a funicular that would connect Viale Vittorio Emanuele on the northern edge of the lower town with the Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe in the southern old upper town.

The maiden voyage of the funicular took place on September 20, 1887. On its way from the lower town (271 m) to the upper town (356 m), it overcomes a height difference of 85 m, with the highest gradient being 52%. The distance for one cabin is 236 m, for the second 240 m. Each of the two wagons can hold up to 50 people. The engineer Ferretti , who was also the director of the lower town's horse-drawn tram , managed it until 1907, when the management of the facility was passed to the city ​​administration through a referendum . In 1921 the system was replaced by two inclined elevators and the two stations were rebuilt. Each of the two cars is now pulled up the mountain on a rope independently of the other, with the rope being wound onto a drum in the mountain station. The renovation work was carried out by August Stigler . Further renovations followed in 1954, 1963/64 and 1987, exactly 100 years after its inauguration. Today the cable car is a popular and fast means of communication for locals and tourists between the lower and upper towns.

San Vigilio funicular

A second funicular runs within the north-western upper town to the hill of San Vigilio . It was put into operation on August 27, 1912 with a 55-seat wagon and overcomes a height difference of 90 m on its 630 m long route from 369 m to 459 m. The highest gradient is 22%. The managing company soon found itself in financial difficulties, so that in 1918 the connection was also taken over by the city transport company. After it was shut down between 1976 and 1984, the cable car was fundamentally renewed from 1987 to 1991 and is now primarily used by tourists to reach the 496 m high castle, from where one has an overwhelming view of the old town, the lower town and the surrounding area Has. You can also see parts of a defense system that was rebuilt and expanded on existing medieval structures between 1550 and the beginning of the 18th century. One of the most famous passengers of the first few years was Hermann Hesse in 1913.

Town twinning

United StatesUnited States Greenville , United States (1985)

China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China Bengbu , People's Republic of China (1988)

FranceFrance Mulhouse , France (1989)

RussiaRussia Tver , Russia (1989)

ArgentinaArgentina Posadas , Argentina (1998)

ArgentinaArgentina La Rioja , Argentina (1998)

United StatesUnited States Pueblo , United States (2005)

BoliviaBolivia Cochabamba , Bolivia (2008)

PolandPoland Olkusz , Poland (2009)


Famous personalities of the city are included in the list of personalities of the city of Bergamo .

Bergamo in literature


  • Anna Ferrari-Bravo, Paola Colombini: Guida d'Italia. Lombardia (esclusa Milano). Milano 1987, pp. 413-463.
  • Lombardia - Touring club italiano, Touring Editore (1999), ISBN 88-365-1325-5 , Bergamo Online .

Web links

Commons : Bergamo  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Bergamo  - travel guide
Wiktionary: Bergamo  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Statistiche demografiche ISTAT. Monthly population statistics of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica , as of December 31 of 2019.
  2. World Heritage List Italy , accessed on July 12, 2017.
  3. ^ Iustinus , Epitoma historiarum Philippicarum Pompei Trogi 20, 5, 8.
  4. Ptolemy 3: 1, 31.
  5. Cato in Pliny , Natural History 3, 124f.
  6. ^ Prosper Havn. ad. 452; Paulus Deaconus , Historia Romana 14, 9; on this Gerhard Wirth , Attila , 1999, p. 107f.
  7. ^ Jörg Jarnut , Gigliola Soldi Rondinini: Bergamo . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , Sp. 1945 f. (here: Sp. 1945, J. Jarnut).
  8. Coronavirus, Bergamo senza medici e infermieri: camere mortuarie piene, salme in chiesa. In: March 12, 2020, accessed March 13, 2020 (Italian).
  9. The coffins accumulate in Bergamo (March 17, 2020)
  10. ^ Lombardia - Beni Culturali, Chiesa di S. Pancrazio, Bergamo (BG)
  11. Rosella Ferrari, Luca Lucchetti: Bergamo, San Michele al Pozzo Bianco , Petit Museum - PM: 7-2009. Little Mercury Edizioni Luca Lucchetti Grafica & Foto, Bergamo 2009. ISBN 978-88-96060-33-9
  12. Thomas Veser: Bergamo, a “venerable stranger”, May 31, 2013, accessed on June 1, 2013
  13. Information from the IRCCS, English , accessed on June 1, 2013
  14. ^ Walter Hefti: Rail cable cars all over the world. Inclined cable levels, funiculars, cable cars. Birkhäuser, Basel 1975, ISBN 3-7643-0726-9
  15. Gemellaggio con Greenville ( Memento of 27 March 2015, Internet Archive )
  16. a b Comune di Bergamo , Gemellaggi e relazioni internazionali
  17. Gemellaggio con Tver '
  18. Sister cities of Pueblo
  19. ^ Comune di Bergamo , Bergamo firma il gemellaggio con Olkusz