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Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Admire the works of art in this 12th-century church that has no main entrance. The structure sprang from the wreckage of a plague.

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is a striking church that is the standout religious structure in the Upper Town district of Bergamo. Dating back to the 12th century, the vast church has been modified and restored over the centuries to its current splendor. Learn about the history of the church, which was built in dedication to the Virgin Mary to stop a plague. 

Stand in the historic Piazza Duomo and gaze up at the intricate church façade, which has no entrance. Admire the Lombard Romanesque elements of the front exterior. The main apse has a gallery topped by arcades and columns. 

Enter the church via one of the side portals and notice the 17th-century Baroque décor in the nave. Examine the tapestries from Florence and Belgium that run along the interior walls. Other notable works of art in the church include the Passage of the Red Sea by Luca Giordano and Alessandro Allori’s Life of Mary. Marvel at the elaborate wooden patterns by artist Lorenzo Lotto around the choir.

Delve into the eerie sepulcher of Cardinal Guglielmo Longhi and see the tombs of 19th-century composer Gaetano Donizetti and his teacher Simone Mayr. Attend a Sunday Mass for a sense of the acoustics and spirituality in this religious site.

Go on a guided tour of the church with a docent for a more comprehensive understanding of its design and history. A devastating plague broke out in the early 12th century that led to the construction of the church. 

Note that the church is free to enter. It opens to the public daily from morning until late afternoon, with a break at noon. 

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is in the Citta Alta district of Bergamo. Ride the city’s funicular up to the station and walk west along the narrow alleys for a few minutes until you arrive at the church. Visit nearby attractions, such as the Bell Tower, the Ragione Palace and the Santa Grata Church.


Guide to Exploring Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore


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B&B Hotel Bergamo £46
B&B Hotel Bergamo

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Via Autostrada 2/A, Bergamo, BG
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 2 miles (3 km) of Humanitas Gavazzeni Hospital, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and Piazza Vecchia. Carrara Academy Gallery and Palazzo della Ragione are also within 2 miles (3 km). Bergamo Station is 10 minutes by foot and Bergamo Alta Funicular is 23 minutes.

    Mercure Bergamo Centro Palazzo Dolci £54
    Mercure Bergamo Centro Palazzo Dolci

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    Viale Papa Giovanni Xxiii 100, Bergamo, BG
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Stazione, this golf hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Centro Congressi Giovanni XXIII and Carrara Academy Gallery. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and Piazza Vecchia are also within 2 miles (3 km). Bergamo Station is only a 3-minute walk and Bergamo Alta Funicular is 15 minutes.

      Hotel Excelsior San Marco £76
      Hotel Excelsior San Marco

      Hotel Excelsior San Marco

      Piazzale della Repubblica 6, Bergamo, BG
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Citta Bassa, this golf hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Matris Domini Monastery and Carrara Academy Gallery. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and Piazza Vecchia are also within 1 mile (2 km). Bergamo Alta Funicular is 5 minutes by foot and Bergamo Station is 14 minutes.

        GombitHotel £182
        GombitHotel

        GombitHotel

        Via Mario Lupo 6, Bergamo, BG
           
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          NH Bergamo £68
          NH Bergamo

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            Relais San Lorenzo £223
            Relais San Lorenzo

            Relais San Lorenzo

            Piazza Mascheroni 9A, Bergamo, BG
               
              5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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              Best Western Hotel Cappello D'Oro £82
              Best Western Hotel Cappello D'Oro

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              12 Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, BG
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                This family-friendly hotel is located in the city centre, within 1 mi (2 km) of Largo Porta Nuova, Carrara Academy Gallery and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Piazza Vecchia and Palazzo della Ragione are also within 1 mile (2 km). Bergamo Station is 6 minutes by foot and Bergamo Alta Funicular is 12 minutes.

                Arli Hotel Business and Wellness £81
                Arli Hotel Business and Wellness

                Arli Hotel Business and Wellness

                Largo Porta Nuova 12, Bergamo, BG
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Citta Bassa, this spa hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Largo Porta Nuova, Carrara Academy Gallery and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Piazza Vecchia and Palazzo della Ragione are also within 1 mile (2 km). Bergamo Station is 7 minutes by foot and Bergamo Alta Funicular is 12 minutes.