Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

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Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore Bergamo


Church and historical and artistic heritage, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the major monument citizen, when the construction was decided also to dissolve a vow on the occasion of an epidemic of plague, i Bergamo people chose a place that was not marginal compared to the ancient one urban and easily accessible facility, where it already stood the small church of Santa Maria, consequently the construction work began in 1137 designed by a certain master Frido, represented above the apse with a bust of a bearded man.
of art

Towards the middle of the 14th century Giovanni da Campione had the task of building the monumental entrance to the north with the prothyrum supported by red marble lions, completed from a tripartite loggia with the statue of Sant'Alessandro on horseback and on which he was finally added, at the end of the century, the tabernacle covered with a spire. The porch a the south is instead supported by white marble lions. The grandiose Romanesque interior of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, had to be entirely frescoed as witnessed in some parts, it was then transformed by a sumptuous baroque decoration. Over the centuries the Consorzio della Misericordia Maggiore enriched the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore of works of art based on drawings by Lorenzo Lotto and the baroque confessional by Andrea Fantoni. In the past the church, used for baptisms, it also served as a room for civic meetings. The opening hours for visits to the place of worship vary according to the seasons and visits are not permitted during functions
Construction period
An inscription placed on the portal of the southern entrance of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, called the White Lions, dates the construction of the basilica back to 1137, but the works are much more likely began in 1157 on the site of a pre-existing 8th century church dedicated to the Virgin, in turn erected over a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Clemenza, but today they do not exist sources that confirm this fact.
The original plan of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was a Greek cross with five apses, one central and four on the transept, of which three remain: the north-west apse was demolished in 1472 by Bartolomeo Colleoni to make room for his mausoleum. The part between the central apse and the transept was built first was not completed in 1185 an altar was consecrated and in 1187 they were completed the presbytery and the apses on the east side of the transept. The works slowed down during 1200 due to economic difficulties, however the blind façade and the atrium were completed.
Exterior Basilica
The external part of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is characterized by the lack of a central entrance and facade, in fact this is blind as it formed a single wall with the ancient bishop's palace, while the four entrances present in the church are all lateral.
In particular on the left side, in Piazza del Duomo, there is the so-called door of the red lions with a prothyrum by Giovanni da Campione and to the left of this, close to the apse, the secondary entrance, between the two doors are fixed in the wall the ancient measures of Bergamo, the Capitium Comunis Pergami and the Brachium to which the weavers and traders referred. To the right of the door stands the Colleoni Chapel with the entrance staircase delimited by a wrought iron gate. Also on the right, detached, at the back of the square, is the baptistery. The side located to the south opens onto Piazza Rosate with the door, again with Giovanni's prothyrum from Campione, called the White Lions and to the left of this, set back, the Porta della Fountain of Pietro Isabello.
Interior of the Basilica
The internal part of the basilica retains the Romanesque Greek cross layout with three naves divided by pillars which they end with an apse, but the decoration underwent notable changes in the 17th century according to the baroque style thanks to the expertise of the plasterers Giovanni Angelo Sala and his son Gerolamo.
Above the tapestry representing the Crucifixion, made in Antwerp in 1698 based on cartoons by Ludwig van Schoor, it is Luca Giordano's painting with the Crossing of the Red Sea.
On the back wall, the monument to Gaetano Donizetti, a work by Vincenzo Vela and that of Simone Mayr executed in 1852 by Innocenzo Fraccaroli.
Tapestries, partly made in Florence, hang along the walls and pillars based on a design by Alessandro Allori and partly of Flemish workmanship, which represent scenes from the Life of Mary.
Inside the basilica there is a Carlo Vegezzi-Bossi organ from 1915, restored several times, whose pipes are divided into two boxes placed on opposing wooden choir stalls in the presbytery.
At the beginning of the left nave of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is located, a wooden confessional in Baroque style carved by Andrea Fantoni in 1704. A 14th century Crucifix hangs on the balustrade of the presbytery.
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