History in Bergamo

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Bergamo was originally the town of a Celtic tribe in ancient times but became a Roman municipality in 49 BC. By the 5th century, it had been ruined by Attila and stayed at a standstill until Milan took Bergamo over in 1264. In the 12th century the town became independent, but in 1331 it actually gave itself over to John of Bohemia. Despite this decision, the Visconti of Milan came in a conquered the town all over again. Later, Bergamo became part of Venice and remained so for many years, until 1797.

Legacy of the Venetian

During the time Bergamo belonged to Venice, the Venetians built a hilltop fortification in the high part of the town. You can still visit it in the Citta Alta, part of the town that is the historic center of Bergamo. Here you can also visit the famous citadel, the Piazza Veccia, or old square, the Palazzo della Ragione, Palazzo Nuovo, the 14th century baptistry, the renaissance Colleoni Chapel, the archaeological museum, and San Michele al Pozzo Bianco, a 12th century church with frescos from that century through the 15th century as well as paintings by Lotto. The Rocca Castle is also a historically significant structure that is important to visit. Its construction was begun by the vicar of John of Bohemia in 1331, but it was completed by Visconti. When the Venetians took over, they added a line of walls as well as a huge tower to the castle. Another notable site is the Basilica di Santa Maria Magglore. Its construction began in 1137 in the same place as an older, 7th century religious area. The basilica was not finished until the 15th century. Today, the basilica is very different from its original form. Only the Greek cross plan and the Romanesque architecture remain because during the 16th and 17th centuries the various rulers of Bergamo changed the basilica to fit their own needs.

Later Years

After the rule of the Venetians, the town was given to Austria in 1815. Soon after, in 1859, Garibaldi freed Bergamo from Austrian rule, and it ended up becoming part of the kingdom of Italy.

Present-day Bergamo

Today, Bergamo is still divided into the 2 sections, the old medieval hilltop town, Citta Alta, and the more modern lower section of town, Citta Bassa. The old hilltop section, is obviously the most historically significant due to the number of monuments, forts, churches, and chapels built there throughout history. It is also the location of most of Bergamo's museums including the Museum of Natural Science, the Archaeological Museum, and the Botanic Garden. The lower town holds the residential areas, the business center, the financial district, shopping areas, and art galleries.

In the present day, Bergamo is the capital of the Bergamo Province in Lombardy. It is a large industrial center shipping out machinery, cement, and textiles and an important agricultural market due to its many orchards and large vineyards which produce some of Italy's famous fine wines.

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