Piazza Maggiore visit Bologna in one day

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Position click here to reach P.zza Maggiore


Piazza Maggiore is the heart of Bologna and the perfect place to start a historic visit of the city.

The area on which the square exists today was built in 1200, as the citizens of Bologna needed a place to use both as market and as place of aggregation in general. Piazza Maggiore was one of the first squares built after the fall of the Roman empire. And took on its present form only in 1400, while in the 16th century the whole area was further expanded under the leadership of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo with the construction of Piazza del Nettuno, The Giambologna Fountain and the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio.


The buildings of Piazza Maggiore

The city’s main historic buildings overlook the square:

  • Palazzo dei Notai built between 1384-1422 on a project by Antonio di Vincenzo;
  • Palazzo Comunale (D’Accursio) built in 1290 but restructured by the architect Fioravanti after the fire which caused its partial destruction in 1425. Now hosts many art exhibitions and is the location of the Morandi museum;
  • Palazzo del Podestà built in 1201 and restored between 1472 and 1484 by the Bentivoglio family. It was the first seat of the city government exercised by the Podestà;
  • Palazzo Re Enzo built in 1246, was the place of imprisonment of the son of Frederick II, King Enzo of Sardinia, for over 23 years. The building, enriched and enlarged over the centuries, took its present appearance after the renovation in the early twentieth century by Alfonso Rubbiani, who was able to restore the original medieval appearance;
  • Palazzo dei Banchi original site of exchangers and bankers was built in 1412 and in 1568, after it was restored following a project by Vignola, the underlying portico was built and nicknamed “Pavaglione” by the citizens. Currently the portico is filled with bright shop windows;
  • Basilica of San Petronio started in 1390 on a project by Antonio di Vincenzo is still unfinished, it represents a splendid example of italian gothic and is one of Italy’s most impressive churches.

Piazza Maggiore: the square

The size of the square is 115 meters in length and 60 meters in width.

The central part is called “crescentone” with reference to a pedestrian platform built in 1934. On the crescentone can still be observed some damage caused by the passage of a US tank on April 21, 1945, the day of the city’s liberation during the second world war.

At present, Piazza Maggiore is home to numerous initiatives that take place on festive days (in the summer it turns into one of the largest outdoor cinemas in Italy with over 3000 chairs placed on the crescentone). Furthermore it is often the meeting point for events and political meetings in town. As it is the meeting place for the citizens of Bologna … you will hear people talk about politics, about the city’s problems, about local sports … any topic is treated in this wonderful gathering by people of all ages.

Curiosities of Piazza Maggiore

Over the centuries the square has seen laws being promulgated, sentences being inflicted, death sentences being executed, popes and emperors passing. And also Carnivals being celebrated, religious rites being carried out. Here, people exulting for the end of the war, crying for the deaths of the massacre, demonstrating for demands or to keep the memory of dramatic events alive.

All the history of Bologna has passed and continues to pass from here!


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