The main attractions of Bologna are located in the center and quite compact. Therefore, if you arrive at the train or bus stations of Bologna, then go to Via dell’Indipendenza and go to the center. In the article I will tell about the main attractions, I will write about the time of their work and the prices of visits.

 

Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro ( Via dell’Indipendenza , 7)

The Cathedral of San Pietro , built on the site of a 11th-century church, changed its appearance 4 times during its existence due to fires and unsuccessful restoration. Today, tourists see the building, built in the early 17th century, retaining only some elements of the original decoration. A part of the relics of St. Anna (the chapel of St. Anna), a wooden crucifix of the 12th century, the sculptural group “Mourning the departed Christ” by Alfonso Lombardi (made of terracotta) and other works of famous Italian artists are stored in the church .

Also worth noting is the 13th-century bell tower (70 meters high), where there is a huge bell weighing 3.3 tons ( La Nonna). You can get into the bell tower only with a guide at certain hours, entrance is paid.

Today, San Pietro is an active Catholic cathedral, it holds regular services and gives concerts of organ music.

Opening hours: 7:30 (weekdays) / 8:30 (weekends) until 19:00

Entrance to the Cathedral is free.

Official website: https://www.chiesadibologna.it/The-Church-in-Bologna.html

Museo Civico Medievale, Via Manzoni, 4

The Museum of the Middle Ages , located just a few steps from the Cathedral of San Pietro, occupies the building of the Palazzo Gizilardi, built on the site of an ancient palace. The museum attracts tourists with a rich collection. Here you can see old dishes (for example, a 13th century jug from Egypt), ancient weapons (Turkish arrows), religious relics, frescoes of Italian sculptors, funerary sculptures of professors of the University of Bologna. The main value of the object is unique medieval documents.

The museum is competently divided into 4 zones, each of which is divided into thematic halls: the hall of the history of the museum and ceramics, the hall of the Middle Ages, etc. Temporary exhibitions are often held here.

Opening hours:   Tuesday-Sunday: 10.00-18.30, day off: Monday and public holidays

Ticket price: full 5 euros, preferential 3 euros.

Official website: http://www.museibologna.it/arteantica/documenti/53061

 

Next to the Cathedral there are two towers – Altabella and Prendiparte. These are the defenses that protected the medieval city.

Prendiparte and Altabella Towers (Piazzetta Prendiparte, 5)

prendiprte altabella bologna

The construction of the towers was carried out by the richest and most noble families of Bologna. Aristocrats staged a competition: whose tower will be the highest. The preparty was built 850 years ago; for decades it served as a prison for heretics. Today, there is an elite hotel, one of the three most unique hotels in the world. In the building there is only one room, consisting of twelve floors. There is a bedroom, a buffet, a terrace and even a prison, where on the walls there are notes and drawings of prisoners. Renting a tower will cost a tourist 500 euros per day. You can find out the rental details on the website http://www.prendiparte.it

On Saturdays at 15:30 organized tours are provided, including a walk in the historic center, a visit to the Asinelli Tower (read about it below) and a short visit to the Prendiparte Tower. The price of the tour is 15 euros. Booking by phone 051 6583111 or booking@bolognawelcome.it

Another interesting tower is named Altabella , the second name is Atstsoguidi, which is located at Via Altabella, 7. The building used to have a watch workshop, and today it houses a small family watch store.

 

Leaning towers are another attraction and a symbol of Bologna. Yes, falling towers are not only in Pisa . In Bologna there are two such towers (in fact, they are not separated, but simply called Due Torre, or “two towers”).  This is the Asinelli Tower (la torre Asinelli) and the Garisenda Tower, which tower on Port Ravenna Square.

the falling towers of Bologna
Leaning towers are not only in Pisa

 

By the way, another city with towers is San Gimignano in Tuscany, read more about it here .

 

Torre degli Asinelli ( Piazza di Porta Ravegnana)

Azinelli Tower – A defensive tower 97 meters high. The deviation from the main axis is already 2.2 meters. The defensive towers in Italy were built by the richest families in order to strengthen their status. The higher the tower, the more significant was the family that built it. According to historical data, this tower was erected by the Azinelli family between 1109 and 1119, but the first records date back only to the end of the 12th century.

Regarding the construction of the tower, there is also a version for the romantics. According to legend, this tower was built by a poor young man in love with a rich beautiful girl. Father promised to give the heiress to the poor if he built the tallest tower in the city. Of course, there was no money to build a tower, the young man had only a few donkeys (in Italian, “asino” – a donkey), for which he was called Asinelli. And, of course, according to the law of the genre, one day, working by the river, Azinelli found a bag of gold and built a tower!

Today, any tourist can climb the tower: from the observation deck, which leads to 498 steps of a spiral staircase, offers a magical view of the city. Students have a sign – do not climb the tower until you finish university!

Working hours:  

From March 1 to November 5: from 9:30 to 19:30 (daily), the last entrance at 18:30

From November 6 to February 28: from 9:30 to 17:45 (daily), the last entrance at 17:00

Ticket price: 5 euros (full), 3 euros (preferential), admission by Bologna Welcome Card is free. 

Reservation of the ascent time to the tower is required, purchase is on the official website https://www.duetorribologna.com/more-info/

Torre Garisenda, Piazza di Porta Ravegnana

Garisende Tower is next to Asinelli. Previously, the buildings were united by a bridge, but later it burned down, they did not begin to restore it.

The towers were built by rival families of aristocrats. Everyone wanted to demonstrate their greatness and superiority. The competition took into account whose tower is taller and whose angle is greater. In pursuit of records, unfortunate architects forgot about safety rules. And if the neighbor just leaned over, then Garisende almost fell to the ground. Authorities shortened the tower three times and from the initial height of 60 meters, only 48 remained, and the tower displacement is about 3 meters. The entrance to it is closed to visitors and the defensive structure mentioned in the work of Dante can only be viewed from the outside.

Having examined the towers, you can go in the heart of Bologna – on the Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Nettuno

 

See also “Bologna Airport: how to get to the center”

 

Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Nettuno

Piazza Maggiore is the main and largest square of the Italian city of Bologna. Since the 13th century, official and festive events have been held here. Previously, a market was located on this place, later the City Administration palace appeared here, the city’s largest basilica, and other buildings of historical and architectural value today. There are many cafes in the square where tourists try traditional Italian cuisine. Entrance to the square is free, parking near the sights will cost 6 euros.

piazza maggiore bologna
I’m in the center of Bologna

Located near Neptune Square (Piazza Nettuno), which has already celebrated 450th anniversary. In the center there is a statue of the god of the seas Neptune by the great Florentine master Dzhambolony.

Also on Neptune Square there is the Palace adjacent to the Palazzo dei Podesta – Palazzo di Re Enzo. It is named after the Sardinian king Enzo, who was here in custody for more than 20 years until his death. Now in this palace are located the Chapel of Our Lady of the Prisoners, the city archive, the courtroom, and prison cells have been preserved.

Fontana del Nettuno (Piazza Nettuno)

fountain of neptune bologna
Neptune’s Fountain by Giambolony

The Neptune Fountain is located on the eponymous square. The statue of the lord of the sea was created more than 400 years ago by the famous Florentine sculptor Giovanni da Bologna (Giambolonia). It was a competitive work, and it was assumed that the sculpture of Neptune will decorate one of the squares of Florence . The statue turned out to be magnificent and realistic. The height of the sculpture is 3 meters, weight – 2 tons. The design is lined with elite Verona marble.

Courageous Neptune is surrounded by his servants – faithful inhabitants of the seas, graceful mermaids, babies, symbolizing the main rivers of the world. It is interesting that from different angles the statue of Neptune looks in a special way, including from one of the sides – not quite chaste.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for Bologna), the creator of the masterpiece lost: another master was installed in Florence, and Neptune took pride of place in the center of Bologna.

By the way, the trident of Neptune from the fountain in Bologna was taken as the Maseratti logo!

Locals gather around Neptune, celebrating the victory of the Bologna football team, students ask him for help on the exam. There is even a belief – if you go around the fountain twice, the session will be passed “excellent”. Tourists throw coins into the water in the hope of returning to the hospitable city.

Basilica di San Petronio (Piazza Maggiore)

St. Petronius Basilica
Against the background of the Basilica of St. Petronius

The Basilica of St. Petronius is the main and largest cathedral of Bologna (in fifth place). The construction of the building in the Gothic style began 600 years ago. According to the drawings, the basilica was to outdo the Vatican Cathedral of St. Peter : it was planned to build a structure 208 meters long and 142 meters wide. But the Pope did not appreciate the unnecessarily bold idea and ordered the building to be made smaller. Due to deviations from the original drawings and lack of funding, the construction dragged on for three whole centuries. Some works, such as facade cladding, are still not finished. And the total dimensions of the temple are 132 meters in length, 60 in width, facade height – 51 meters.

The idea of ​​building a temple did not belong to the church at all, but to the communal authorities. Therefore, in the church not only church services were held, court sessions and city meetings were not uncommon.

The main treasures of the basilica are the oldest organ in the country (1475), perfectly preserved to this day, sculptural compositions showing scenes from the Testament, unique frescoes of the 15th century. On the floor of the temple, a meridian with the zodiac signs is drawn, and a ray of light incident on one of the signs indicates the month of the year. So, who drew the meridian of Giovanni Domenico Cassini, tried to prove that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Church of St. Petronius
The main temple of Bologna

Since 2000, the relics of St. Petronius, the patron saint of the city, have been in the church.

Working hours:  

Cathedral:  Monday – Friday: from 7:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 7:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

Observation deck:  Monday-Thursday: from 11:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00,  Friday-Sunday: from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:30 to 18:00

Entrance every 20 minutes

Ticket price:  admission to the Cathedral is free, payment in the Cathedral is 2 euros, and admission to the observation deck is 3 euros.

Official website: basilicadisanpetronio.it

Palazzo Comunale (Piazza Maggiore, 6)

palazzo communale bologna
Palazzo Comunale

The Commune Palace recently celebrated its 700th anniversary; a municipality meeting has been held here since the 13th century. The building consists of two buildings (two Palaces): Palazzo d’Accursio (the “left” part of the palace with a tower and clock, it contains the oldest part of the town hall) and Palazzo del Legato (the “right” part of the palace, which was later built for the Papal legate).

Today, on the ground floor, you can see two rooms: the city council hall, decorated in the Baroque style and the red empire style hall. On the second floor, the Farnese Hall (the “Royal Hall” where Charles V was crowned) and the adjacent Legato Chapel, as well as a collection of art objects, are interesting. On the third floor there is an art gallery with works by artists of the 13-19th centuries The windows offer a gorgeous view of the main square and the statue of Neptune.

In the building behind the Neptune Fountain (Borsa Hall), the modern and largest Italian media library is open.

Opening hours:  Monday – Thursday: from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.,  Friday: from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.,  Saturday, Sunday – day off.

Entrance to most rooms is free.

Palazzo del Podestà ( Piazza Maggiore, 1)

palazzo del podesta bologna

The Palace of the City Administration is part of the architectural ensemble of the main square of the city of Piazza Maggiore. The project was created by Ridolfo Aristotle Fioravanti, an architect who worked on the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.

This is one of the oldest buildings in Bologna, it is more than 800 years old. The palace managed to visit the residence of the ruler, the courtroom, the city theater and even the training place for local firefighters.

Ground floor – covered gallery. There used to be stalls. Today there is a fashionable restaurant, luxury boutiques and a tourist center. Travelers and guests are attracted to the “whisper gallery” – a hall with amazing acoustics, in which any quietly spoken word is clearly heard in any corner. The second floor is occupied by a huge hall in which the most important events of the city and country are held. The building is crowned by a tower with a bell, which used to convene people at meetings.

gallery of whispers bologna
Tourists whisper

It is possible to visit the Palace of Podesta only on the days of the events, the rest of the time you can only look at the Palace externally and sit in the restaurant on the ground floor.

 

See also “Bologna cuisine: what to try in the capital of Emilia Romagna”

 

Palazzo Dei Banchi ( Piazza Maggiore, 6)

The Palazzo dei Banki is the youngest building in Piazza Maggiore. The base of the building’s facade is 15 arches, two of which are through, leading to the central streets of Bologna.

From Italian the name of the building is translated as “counter”. Previously, they changed the currency, sold and bought a lot of goods: from food to jewelry and weapons. And today this place is considered a shopaholic’s paradise. Numerous boutiques with souvenirs, clothes, and local delicacies open their doors to tourists every day, and in many restaurants you can taste traditional Italian dishes.

Palazzo dei Notai ( Piazza Maggiore, 5)

palace of notaries bologna
Palace of Notaries (with battlements) and the Palace of the Commune

The Notary’s Palace (Palazzo dei Notai) is also located in Piazza Maggiore. The building consists of two parts, interconnected. The age of the building is about 730 years. The palace is decorated with an old coat of arms – inkwells with feathers. The roof is supplemented with teeth. In the halls preserved interior decoration, ancient frescoes. Previously, a notarial archive was kept here, various notarial documents were drawn up, and today the Palace is used by city services.

Entrance to tourists and residents of the city is limited, you can get inside the premises only during certain events.

After exploring the main square, you can stroll through via Massimo D’Azeglio, on the street there are many shops, gelatiery, grocery stores where you can have a snack or buy local delicacies, fruits, pies, sweets.

On the opposite side from San Petronio are some more interesting sights that may be interesting to lovers of history, archeology and … anatomy!

Museo civico archeologico di Bologna ( Via dell’Archiginnasio, 2,)

The city archaeological museum was founded almost 150 years ago. The impetus was an interesting find: archaeologists discovered the burial of the Etruscans in the area of ​​the Bologna cemetery.  

The museum is divided into eight sections so that all the halls can be viewed in one visit. Most of all tourists are attracted by the section of Ancient Egypt: there is a unique collection of Egyptian antiquities (coins, vases, statues and even funeral masks of the pharaohs). Other halls (Greek, Ancient Roman, Etruscan, Gali collections) are no less interesting.

Opening hours:   Tuesday-Friday: from 9:00 to 15:00,  Saturday, Sunday: from 10:00 to 18:30,  Monday – day off

Ticket price: 5 euros (full), 3 euros (preferential).

Admission with the Bologna Welcome Card is free.

Important! The first Sunday of every month is free admission!

Official website: http://www.museibologna.it/archeologico

Palazzo Dell’Archiginnasio (Piazza Galvani, 1)

The building of the Archgymnasium once housed the main university of the city. Built in 1563, it was supposed to unite all the faculties of the city and was a higher educational institution until 1803.

The architectural appearance of the first floor includes 30 arches. Two wide stairs lead to the old classroom. The walls and ceilings of the halls are decorated with ancient paintings, preserved in almost perfect condition. The highlight of the Arch-gymnasium is an old library that stores rarities: books, manuscripts, drawings, manuscripts, filing of the Italian press for many decades.

Entrance to the library for tourist purposes is prohibited. You can only visit the Anatomical Theater and the Stabat Mater Hall in the building of the Gymnasium

Official website: http://www.archiginnasio.it

Teatro Anatomico ( Piazza Galvani, 1)

The Anatomy Theater is located in the building of the Archgymnasium. It was opened in 1637. Then students of the medical faculty were taught the preparation of corpses, world medicine was born here, the first steps were taken on the difficult path of treatment of deadly diseases.

As in the 17th century, today in the center of the amphitheater there is a marble table, the room is decorated with expensive cypress, the ceiling is decorated with constellations of the zodiac signs. The center depicts the ancient patron saint of medicine – Apollo.

The only difference is that in our time corpses are not dissected here.

A visit to the theater of anatomy is paid, and perhaps this is the only way to get inside the archimnasium.

Opening hours:   Monday-Friday: from 10:00 to 18:00,  Saturday: from 10:00 to 19:00,  Sunday and holidays: from 10 to 14 hours

Ticket price: 3 euros

Official website: http://www.archiginnasio.it/infopalazzo.htm

Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico ( Piazza S. Domenico, 13)

Basilica of St. Domenic of Bologna

The Basilica of St. Domenik is literally a three-minute walk from the Archimnasium and the Anatomical Theater. It was built to mark the end of the Black Death epidemic in Bologna. The relics of the founder of the Order of the Preachers – St. Domenic are stored here.

relics of St. Dominic in Bologna
The basilica contains the relics of St. Domenic

This religious site is not one of the most visited by tourists, so there are no crowds of travelers, a calm and peaceful atmosphere prevails. The basilica stores the sculptures of Michelangelo, in the temple there is also an ancient organ that Mozart himself played, therefore, even a non-religious person will be interested in visiting this place.

Mozart organ Bologna
In the basilica you can see the organ on which Mozart learned to play.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 – 13:00, 15:00 – 19:30, on weekends, the working time must be specified.

The entrance is free.

Official website: https://sandomenicobologna.it/

Basilica di Santo Stefano (via Santo Stefano, 24)

Piazza Santo Stefano Bologna
Santo Stefano Square

St. Stephen’s Church belongs to the Catholic branch of Christianity. This is not just a tourist attraction, but the most complete and well-preserved European analogue of Jerusalem. According to legend, there used to be a temple of the goddess Isis, the patroness of the hearth. Only columns of African marble remained from the building. The complex included 7 buildings built at different times, but only 4 objects were well preserved.

The oldest building is the temple of the Holy Sepulcher. Inside the religious shrine is a holy spring symbolizing the waters of the Jordan River. In the complex you can see ancient frescoes, a crucifix dated to the fourteenth century.

Church of St. Stephen Bologna
In the courtyard of the church
santo stefano bologna
Remaining murals
Santo Stefano Bologna
One of the surviving churches
Santo Stefano Bologna complex
Two churches of the complex

Opening hours: on  weekdays from 9 to 12:30 and from 15:30 –18: 30, on  weekends: from 9 am to 13 hours, and from 17:30 to 19:00

Free admission.

Official website: abbaziasantostefano.it

Museo di Palazzo Poggi (Via Zamboni, 33)

The Palazzo Poggi Museum holds unique exhibits. Each visitor will find here something interesting for himself. Here are the results of research, including the fruits of the experiments of Luigi Galvani, a famous Italian scientist. Several rooms are dedicated to medicine: obstetrics, anatomy. The collection began to be collected almost 300 years ago, the exposition includes ancient weapons, models of vehicles, atlases, ancient documents.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday from 10:00 to 16:00, on weekends from 10:00 to 18:00

Ticket price: 5 euros.

Official website: https://sma.unibo.it/it/il-sistema-museale/museo-di-palazzo-poggi

Università di Bologna

Bologna University is the oldest in Europe, graduating hundreds of talented scientists, inventors, writers. The interior resembles a knight’s castle. High ceilings are painted with frescoes, the family coat of arms of teachers hang on the walls.

The real wealth of the educational institution is the library, which stores 300 thousand books and thousands of periodicals.

Official website – http://www.unibo.it/it

Giardini Botanici (via Irnerio, 42)

The Botanical Garden covers an area of ​​two hectares. The collection includes 5 thousand species of plants, mainly from Italy, but also brought from all over the globe. The garden is famous for its luxurious greenhouses, where bright orchids, unique ferns and predatory flowers that hunt insects grow.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., on Saturday – until 1 p.m.

the entrance is free

Official website http://www.ortobotanicoitalia.it/

Il Giardino Della Montagnola (via Irnerio 2/3)

Montagnola Park occupies an artificially created hill, at the foot of which there is a monument to the People. The monument commemorates the citizens who died in 1848, on the day of the unification of all the lands of Italy.

A marble staircase leads to the park. To the left of it are the ruins of an ancient castle of the 16th century. The park regularly holds holidays and music festivals. A play area is organized for younger visitors.

Entrance to the park is free.

Official website: http://www.montagnolabologna.it

Giardini Margherita ( Piazza di Porta Santo Stefano)

Margarita Gardens since its inception were considered city property, which is unconventional for Bologna. Most city parks were once part of the estates of aristocrats.

Margarita Gardens – the most popular and visited by both tourists and locals, the green massif. At the heart of the park is a pond surrounded by artificial rocks, and a wooden castle has been built on its shore. There are many aquatic turtles in the pond.

The park has a convenient infrastructure. Throughout the well-groomed territory, paths are laid, sprinkled with gravel. In the gardens regularly hold festivals, holidays, concerts. There are playgrounds for children.

Hours: around the clock.

Entrance to the park is free.

You can get from the center by bus number 39, stop Farini (center) – Al Parco Giardini Margherita (Margarita Gardens).

Car parking is located nearby, an hour of parking costs 2.5 euros.

Casa Del Carducci ( Piazza Giosuè Carducci, 5)

Carducci House once belonged to the famous Italian poet and his family. After the death of a genius, the queen gave the Bologna house and garden on the condition that the inhabitants organize a museum of his memory in it.

The rooms have preserved the past decoration and atmosphere. From the spacious hall of the first floor you can climb the spiral staircase upstairs and see for yourself the poet’s apartments, an archive of his personal belongings. The house has a rich library that stores 40 thousand books, ancient documents and manuscripts.

The house is adjacent to a cozy flowering garden. The green massif is decorated with sculptural compositions, including those created by Leonardo Bistolfi. Many statues have been preserved almost intact. Another attraction of the kindergarten is the remains of the old city wall.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:00 to 13:00

Ticket price – 5 euros.

Official website: http://www.casacarducci.it/

Fortress walls and gates (Mura e porte di Bologna)

The walls and gates are the remains of ancient structures that served to protect the city from the enemy. Scientists believe the walls were erected at sunset in ancient Rome. It is impossible to give a more accurate date. It is only known that the construction took place in several stages.

The first square-shaped defensive line protected the central area of ​​just 20 hectares. Seven gates were built into the wall, which were crowned with crosses. The second defensive belt was erected at the beginning of the 13th century. It has eighteen gates. The farthest, third line, almost repeats the location of modern ring roads. Twelve gates were originally made in the wall, but only ten were saved.

The fortress walls came under large-scale reconstruction, a significant part of them was demolished along with the gate, which caused dissonance in society. Today you can see the preserved buildings while walking around the historic city center.

Santuario Madonna di San Luca (v ia di San Luca, 36)

Madonna di San Luca Bologna
Church of the Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca is a Catholic sanctuary and a popular pilgrimage site located on Guard Hill about 5 km from the center of Bologna. This place is known, first of all, for the icon painted by the Evangelist Luke (according to legend, in the 12th century a hermit came to the sanctuary, who brought the Icon of Our Lady from the Church of St. Sophia in Constantinople) and a covered gallery, 3.8 km long, leading to the hill. This is the longest indoor gallery in Bologna.

Under the dome of the Cathedral there is an observation deck, you can go up there for 5 euros, let in no more than 10 people at a time, therefore, a small queue is created.

lookout san luca bologna
The climb to the observation deck is very narrow
onion san
View from the observation deck

The construction of the modern temple began in 1723 and lasted more than 40 years. And in 1930 a funicular was built connecting the temple and the street. Zaragozza (in just 7 minutes you could climb to the temple). However, this caused disapproval of believers who believed that pilgrimages can only be made on foot. In 1976, the funicular was closed.

Icon San Luke Bologna
Icon painted by Saint Luke – the goal of all pilgrims

Today you can get on foot through the arcade (3.8 km from Porta Saragozza), by taxi , by the tourist train San Luca Express and by public transport bus number 20 from the center to Villa Spada (Porta San Donato – Montagnola Park – Piazza Maggiore – via Saragozza – Villa Spada) + bus number 58 ( Villa Spada – Basilica Madonna di San Luca). The fare is 1.30-1.80 euros.

 

See also: “Transportation in Bologna: buses, coach, taxi”

 

Opening hours: from 7:00 to 19:00 (closed from 12:30 to 14:30 all days except Sunday)

Admission is free, climb to the observation deck 5 euros.

Official website: http: //www.santuariobeataverginesanluca.org/

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