Read about the city

Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region and it is one of Italy's major cultural cities with its own special vibe under the arcades for which the city is so famous, they are all over the city center. Street after street you can walk in archways; for example to the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca church, where there are 666 arches on the way.

Bologna has nurtured great artists through time, and is home to Europe's oldest university. The campus houses a special atmosphere in the city and is host of interesting museums - all within walking distance of the cozy inner city.

The city center is located around beautiful Piazza Maggiore, which dates back hundreds of years. The Town Hall and the colossal church of San Petronio are just two examples of magnificent buildings here; they stand as a testimony to the rich and prosperous history of Bologna, which is also emphasized by a multitude of other churches and fine mansions.

Not far from Piazza Maggiore you can see the Due Torri, two of the towers erected in the Middle Ages as status symbols and defenses of rival families. They tell a significant part of Bologna's history and the people who characterized it.

The scenery around Bologna is beautiful and you can easily visit several different cultural cities, the mountain state of San Marino or the Italian Adriatic coast. Florence is a top destination for many travelers, but cities like Ravenna and Ferrara are also great choices close to Bologna.

Other attractions

Neptune Fountain, Bologna

  • Neptune Fountain/Fontana di Nettuno: The Neptune Fountain is a sculpture made in 1563-1566 after Tommaso Laureti's drawings by the Flemish sculptor Giambologna. It stands in the central square in the center of the city, Piazza Maggiore.
  • Isolani House/Casa Isolani: In Bologna, since the Middle Ages, houses have been ordered to be built with the arcades so characteristic of the city. The requirements were to ensure coherence through all the town's houses, which has also been successful. Casa Isolani from the 13th century is an early example of this.

St Petronius Basilica, Bologna

  • St Petronius Basilica/Basilica di San Petronio: The impressive Basilica di San Petronio is one of Italy's largest churches and is one of the most important in Bologna. The church was built from 1390 and stands in Gothic style with stained glass windows from the 15th century and a number of side chapels.

Accursio Palace, Bologna

  • Accursio Palace/Palazzo d'Accursio: The Accursio Palace is also known as the Palazzo Comunale, and has been Bologna's town hall for centuries. The building was erected through the 1200s-1400s and it is still the town hall. You can see different collections in the building.
  • Municipal Theater/Teatro Comunale: The Bologna Senate decided in 1756 that the famous architect Antonio Bibiena should build a new theater in the city. Seven years later, the Teatro Comunale opened, and today it is one of Italy's leading opera houses. The large audience hall is a fantastic setting for the opera's productions.

Archiginassio Palace, Bologna

  • Archiginnasio Palace/Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio: The Palazzo d’Archiginnasio from 1562-1563 was built as the city’s university. The highlight of the building's halls is the very beautiful and famous Anatomical Theater, Teatro Anatomico.
  • St Dominic Basilica/Basilica di San Domenico: The Basilica di San Domenico was built in 1221. The church is dedicated to the founder of the Dominican order, Saint Dominic, and it was built to house his tomb. The tomb can be seen in the chapel with his name, where the monument Arca di San Domenico stands.

Montagnola Park, Bologna

  • Montagnola Park/Parco della Montagnola: Montagnola Park is the largest green area within the boundaries of the former city walls around Bologna. The fine park was established from 1662 as a social meeting place in the city, and it continues to function as such.
  • Pescherie Vecchie Street/Via Pescherie Vecchie: This street is located behind the façade of Palazzo Banchi in Piazza Maggiore. It is part of Bologna's old food market. Here are stalls and shops to this day, and they continue to offer gastronomic delights.

St Francis Basilica, Bologna

  • St Francis Basilica/Basilica di San Francesco: The Basilica di San Francesco was founded in 1236, when the city council granted the Franciscan Order a piece of land in the city. It happened after Francis of Assisi had preached here 14 years earlier. The mighty building was completed in its original appearance in 1254. The facade is Romanesque, while the church is otherwise one of the country's best examples of French Gothic.
  • Poggi Palace/Palazzo Poggi: This palace was built in 1549 as a private residence for the Poggi family. Since 1803, it has been the seat of the university in the city. The University of Bologna is the oldest in the world, and Palazzo Poggi is part of the university's museums.

Galliera Gate, Bologna

  • Galliera Gate/Porta Galliera: The city gate Porta Galliera is one of the 12 gates built in the third wall of Bologna. The present gate was constructed in the years 1659-1661. If you want to see the other gates of the city, you can just follow the ring road around the center of Bologna.
History overview

    Read about city history

    Founding and the Roman Empire
    Bologna region was settled in the Bronze Age some 3,000 years ago by the villanoves. The people were overcome by the Etruscans who founded the forerunner of today's Bologna under the name Felsina.

    In the 300s BC the Gallic tribe came to the area, and they conquered Felsina and the surrounding area. The Gauls mingled with Etruscan culture, and they dominated until 196 BC, when the expanding Roman Empire attacked.

    After Roman victory, Bologna then became a colony in the Roman Empire under the name Bononia from 189 BC. From the very beginning, Bononia became important as commercial roads were built through the city.

    During Roman times, Bologna had up to 30,000 inhabitants and was at one time the second largest city in the Italian area. Here were temples, baths and an arena.

    The city burned under Emperor Claudius, but it was rebuilt and expanded under Nero, which provided the city with more public institutions.

    After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area around Bologna was for centuries alternately attacked from the north. It was once part of the Ravenna exarchate, and from 728 the city became part of the Kingdom of Lombardy, initially King Luitprand.

    From the 1000s
    Through the various powers, Bologna was strategically well placed with a sound economy. Due to a rapidly increasing trade and production of handicrafts, prosperity was on the rise and cultural development started as well. It was here, for example, that the first university in Europe was founded in 1088.

    Bologna was for a time subject to the Pope of Rome, but through the 11th century the city approached the status of a city state. Later, in 1164, the city of the Lombard League joined the German-Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. It ended in Peace with Costanza in 1183, after which a boom began in Bologna's development.

    Growth and prosperity
    The following centuries attracted both culturally and economically rich Bologna people from all over Europe - not least because of the university, where, among other things, law could be studied. Among the students at the institution was Dante Alighieri.

    From the 1100s, many of the city's wealthy families erected the characteristic defensive towers, two of which can still be seen in the center of Bologna. The towers were part of the city's defense, but at the same time prestige buildings where the families' ability was exhibited.

    The population increased so rapidly that there was a housing shortage in the city, which is why the many arcades that covered the sidewalks were erected. In this way the housing stock could be increased, and by the end of the 13th century Bologna was among Europe's largest cities. Around 50,000 people lived in the city.

    New Age During the Pope State
    An increasing disagreement in the city about its status led to the end of its term as an independent state. Some were followers of the emperor, some of the Pope, and after long strife, Pope Julius II conquered Bologna in 1506, and the city state was incorporated into the Pope. The new regime was now led by a cardinal and a senate, who every two months elected a judge, gonfaloniere, who was assisted by eight consuls.

    Among the highlights of the city's political life as part of the pope's realm were the papal coronation in 1530 by Karl V as well as the Trentinian Council of 1547-1548; an important church congregation that was otherwise located in Trento.

    It also became a few centuries of general growth and cultural flourishing in the city. After the plague first reduced the population from 72,000 to 59,000 at the end of the 16th century and again to 47,000 in 1630, the number of citizens quickly rose again to about 65,000, and a building was built in Bologna.

    Thus, much of what Bologna visitors today experience was listed during the time of the Pope. These included seats, mansion, churches and the expansion of the university. Many artists worked in the city, which also had great ecclesiastical activity. With 96 monasteries, Bologna had more of these than any other Italian city.

    Napoleonic times
    Bologna was ruled by the pope until 1796, when troops from France's Napoleon conquered the city and the area. Bologna was now under French rule and it became the capital of the newly created Republic of Cispadana.

    The city flourished politically and economically and with it also followed a cultural development. Cispadana was a reality until the fall of Napoleon. After the Vienna Congress in 1815, the city again came under the control of the Pope.

    There were frequent riots in the city against the rule of the Pope. This happened in 1831, 1843 and 1848, but none of them had a decisive political impact.

    From the New Italy to Today
    Italian Nationalism rose in Bologna as in other Italian cities and states. In 1859, the city voted to join the Kingdom of the Sardine, which quickly developed into the newly formed and unifying Kingdom of Italy. Upon accession, the formal affiliation with the Pope and the Pope State ceased.

    In the last decades of the 20th century, Bologna developed into a city with many high-tech companies. It caught on in business, and the city quickly became one of Italy's leading trade and exhibition cities.

    The location was good on the roads between north and south in Italy, and with the railway's construction and growth, Bologna became a major hub and later for that reason a target for allied bombs during World War II. In 1943, the city was bombed both July 16 and September 25, with severe destruction. The city's infrastructure and industry were among the targets, but large parts of the historic city center were also destroyed.

    After World War II, Bologna resumed the role of industrial and economic center. Reconstruction after the bombs of the war was carried out and solid economic growth was brought about with the development of the industry.

    In connection with Bologna's status as a European cultural city in the year 2000, the city was again renovated and restored in great style. Today's Bologna is a wealthy city that draws on history. The city's many historic buildings are very well maintained and you experience a very international atmosphere in the city, which still retains its Italian charm.
    Skjul indhold her

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Bologna, Metropolitan City of Bologna, Italy

Top attractions

Palazzo Podesta, Bologna

  • Podestà Palace/Palazzo del Podestà: This palace was built around the year 1200 as the seat of the city administration and mayor. Already in the years 1244-1246, the palace was expanded with the extension, Palazzo Re Enzo, and in the 15th century, the facade was changed in the Renaissance of the time.
  • The Main Square/Piazza Maggiore: The square Piazza Maggiore was laid out in the 13th century as the center of Bologna. It is the square where a number of major sights can be found such as the Palazzo del Podestà. You can also see the Biblioteca Salaborsa, the town hall and the mighty Basilica de San Petronio.

Two Towers, Bologna

  • The Two Towers/Due Torri: The Two Towers are two tall constructions from the Middle Ages. The towers are among the few remaining of about 180 towers that the city's rich families had built over time. The towers served both as fortifications and as prestigious buildings.
  • St Peter's Cathedral/Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro: St. Peter's Cathedral is Bologna's main church. It has been a cathedral since 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII made it archbishopric. In the interior of the church you can see beautiful decorations such as Cappella Maggiore around the altar.

Madonna di San Luca, Bologna

  • Madonna di San Luca Sanctuary/Santuario della Madonna di San Luca: This is a pilgrimage church beautifully situated on top of a 298 meter/977 foot high hill outside the center of Bologna. The access to the church is fantastic, as you pass approximately 4 km/2.5 miles of archways from the city center to the church.
Trips in the area

Ravenna, Italy

  • Ravenna: The town of Ravenna is known for its nearby lovely beaches on the Adriatic coast. At the same time, Ravenna is an ancient cultural city that has been the capital of the Western Roman Empire. You can e.g. see beautiful mosaics in the city.
  • Faenza: The city of Faenza has given its name to faience and it is its trademark. Faenza's sights are concentrated around the central square, Piazza del Popolo, where you can see the city hall.

Florence, Italy

  • Florence/Firenze: Florence is one of Italy's most visited and magnificent cultural cities. The city has been home to a number of the world's great artists and thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Here are countless sights and fine museums.
  • Ferrara: Ferrara was one of Italy's leading cultural centers during its heyday in the 15th century, and there are several things to see and do here. You can, for example, visit the city's cathedral and Castello Estense.

San Marino

  • San Marino: The geographically small republic of San Marino is breathtakingly located on and around the mountain peak Titano at 749 meters/2,457 feet in height. On a visit to the city and the country, all you have to do is walk around the city streets and enjoy the views.
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