Not to be missed in Bergamo's Città Alta...
COLLEONI CHAPEL (La Cappella Colleoni)
Considered to be the jewel in Bergamo’s crown, the Colleoni Chapel has been acclaimed as one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Italy.
The chapel in Piazza Duomo was built by order of military leader Bartolomeo Colleoni to be a fitting home for his own tomb.
There is a story that the wealthy condottiero asked for his tomb to be positioned so that the sun illuminated it when it shone through the circular window.
The chapel was designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo and has been likened to a jewel box because of its ornate pink and white marble façade decorated with pillars and statues.
It was built between 1472 and 1476 and designed to harmonise with the architecture of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which stands next to it. Colleoni was so powerful at the time that he had been able to order the demolition of the sacristry of the basilica to make way for his chapel.
Bartolomeo Colleoni was born in Solza, just outside Bergamo in 1400 and began his military career at the age of 15. After Bergamo came under the control of Venice, he was entrusted by the republic with commanding the armies deployed to defend it.
|The Chapel glimpsed from|
the Piazza Vecchia
In 1456 he acquired a castle at Malpaga to the south of Bergamo and settled down to live peacefully with his wife and eight children and carry out works to benefit the area.
He commissioned the architect Amadeo to design a chapel where he could be buried with the insignia of a captain of the Venetian republic. He died on 2 November 1475 and his body was placed in the sarcophagus inside the chapel where it still lies.
He left money to Venice with a request that a statue of himself be erected in Piazza San Marco. As there was a rule that no monuments were allowed in the Piazza, the statue was placed opposite the Scuola di San Marco in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo.
INSIDE THE CHAPEL:
On the right hand side, Colleoni’s body rests in the larger marble sarcophagus, which is decorated with scenes from the life of Christ.
The smaller sarcophagus above was designed for the body of his wife, Thisbe, but it is believed she was not buried there.
Above is a gilded wooden statue representing Colleoni on horseback.
On the back wall is a tomb containing the body of Colleoni’s favourite daughter Medea. This was added much later and her body was reburied there.
There are frescoes above the tombs by Giambattista Tiepolo.
Opening hours: Tues – Sun 9.00 – 12.30/14.00-16.30 (till 18.00 after March). Closed Mondays. Tel +39 035 210061.