Old Square Bergamo

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Old Square Bergamo


The characteristic Old Square began to take shape current form in the 1400s with demolition of a group of houses he occupied the area in front of the Palazzo della Ragione. The square represents the place and heart of political life and administration of Bergamo and the whole Bergamo. During the Venetian domination this central area acquired Renaissance shapes and sizes, above all when the building on the western side it was transformed to become a headquarters of the Venetian mayor.

In order to decorate d the facade was called one of the best known artists of the time, the Bramante, who frescoed it in 1477. The the square took on its definitive appearance with the construction of the new building on the east side of the Municipality, whose foundation stone was placed in 1604. The project for the construction of the municipal house was entrusted to the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi, but the building it was not completed as planned original also due to lack of funds. Covered in white marble, it now houses the Angelo civic library Never, in whose precious heritage of parchments, illuminated manuscripts, incunabula, the history of the city is stored in the archives. Currently the appearance of the Old Square is not what appeared in past centuries. Bramante's grandiose frescoes have disappeared, of which only a part has been recovered, also the facade of the Palace of Reason, whose origins date back to XII century, has lost its numerous coats of arms of the rectors of Bergamo and the mayors who they decorated its façade.
The Lion of San Marco displayed in the Old Square above the central balcony it has been a symbol, for 350 years, of domination of Venice, was destroyed in 1797 with the arrival of the French, but in 1933 the city of Venice donated a copy of the lion to Bergamo marble. The portico located in the Old Square under the ancient municipal building connects the Old Square, where it was concentrated the civil power, and the square of Cathedral, symbol of episcopal power.
The Cathedral overlooks the historic Old Square located in upper Bergamo, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Colleoni Chapel, the Baptistery and the Bishopric.
Contarini Fountain
Located in the square, the Contarini Fountain was built of Zandobbio marble, it appears composed of a main basin with an octagonal base, at the center of which a jet makes water flow. The basin is surrounded by ornamental statues arranged symmetrically, first of all two small sphinxes facing each other, one looking towards the Palazzo della Ragione and the other directed towards the civic library, at the base of which the same number are placed small tubs that collect the water that flows from their mouth, with which it is possible to drink.
Next to each of the small basins there are two small columns, on which they are sculpted zoomorphic elements such as snakes and lions. On each of the sides left undefended, two statues representing a lion, symbol of the Serenissima, are placed equidistant who commanded the city at that time.
The fountain owes its name to Alvise Contarini, mayor of the Republic of Venice, who gave it as a gift to the citizens in 1780, when he left his post in the Orobic city. The intent of the then city rector was both to beautify the central Old Square, than to provide the inhabitants with a precious tool that can be used for domestic purposes and against drought. During 1858 the fountain was subjected to a complete renovation, which partially modified the original characteristics.
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