Convent of San Francesco Bergamo

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Convent of San Francesco


A time of much greater dimensions redoubts, the convent of San Francesco has access from Piazza Mercato del Hay, it was the largest and most important religious complex in the medieval city. Object of donations and bequests, the monastery was established in the 12th century and completed in 16th century, features two large cloisters, the first, called the arks due to their presence of nineteen arks built in the 13th century destined for tombs of city families, the second cloister, called the well, offers a beautiful view towards the Orobie.

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Suppressed in the early nineteenth century, the Convent of San Francesco was transformed in the barracks and then in prison, the complex suffered serious damage. Of the big one church, used as a warehouse, only the remains apse part with related frescoes. Between 1935 and 1939 underwent a radical recovery with reconstructions to place one there school. Currently the Convent of San Francesco is home to the city's Historical Museum.
The construction of the complex of the Convent of San Francesco began in the 13th century on an area donated by powerful Bonghi family and, through modifications and additions, completed in the 16th century. The structure, typical of medieval architecture, develops between the Cloister of the Arche or major and the Cloister of the Well or minor, both connected by a short corridor that branches off from the evening corner of the first.
The Convent of San Francesco as well as for its architecture, it is of particular importance for the fragments of fourteenth-century frescoes that have survived the centuries, neglect and the deleterious active work of men.
In the architectural structure of the Convent of San Francesco a church was inserted, wanted by the family who had sold the area, consecrated by bishop Roberto Bonghi in August 1292. Of the church, destroyed in 1821 to make room for a prison, only the apse part and three side chapels which, however, retain fragments of frescoes of great artistic and historical value, precious testimonies of the fourteenth-century art of Bergamo.
The main cloister, also called the cloister of the arks, was used in the 14th century as a cemetery and contained, sepulchral arks of families of the city's nobility and for this reason it was also called the cloister of the dead, the cloister has a very large rectangular shape, with arches that mark the entire perimeter. The arches, connected by columns to the column wall, refine and lighten the structure without affecting its austerity.
The minor cloister also called del Pozzo due to the large cistern located in its centre, has a square shape and smaller in size than the Cloister of the Arks, from terrace which replaced a third cloister, it is possible to see the panorama of the part below north-eastern part of the lower city and the mountain belt that surrounds it. The walls of the cloister of the Convent of San Francesco were decorated with fourteenth-century frescoes irretrievably lost having been replaced in the 18th century by others depicting the miracles of Saint Francis, however deteriorated but still visible.
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