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The Top 10 Attractions in Bologna

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Within the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy will you find a stunningly beautiful city called Bologna.  Due to its ancient university (the first and oldest university in the world), visitors often find the city a dichotomy due to its combination of lively energy emanated from the large amount of young students living here, together with a feeling of ancientness due to its old, historic buildings.
Overall, a great city to visit and explore. Let's have a look at the Top 10 Attractions here:

10. The Palazzo Fava 


Palazzo Fava was built in 1546 by the Fava family. It was also this family that commissioned the painting of several rooms on the main floor, particularly the Sala di Giasone, by the famous Carraccis brothers. Today, the palace boasts an exhibition area inside, which is very popular among art enthusiasts. Its also possible visit a quaint café inside the building. 

Via Manzoni 2, Bologna, Italy

051 1993 6305

9. The Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio


The Palazzo dell’Archginnasio is one of Bologna’s most important buildings. It was the seat of the cities university from 1563 to 1805, before it moved to the Palazzo Poggi. Today, it houses the Civic Library, or the Biblioteca Comunale, which is off-limits to the public. Cardinal Borromeo commissioned the construction of the palace to hold lecture halls for the University’s Law and Arts courses. Areas that are open to the public is  the Aula Magna di Stabat Mater, a grand classroom, and the anatomic theatre. 

Piazza Galvani, 1, 40124 Bologna, Italy

+39 051 276811

8. The Palazzo Comunale 


The Palazzo Comunale or Palazzo d’Accursio, the home of the city council of Bologna since 1336, is an impressive building with a mix of architectural styles. Its current look was adopted in the 15th and 16th centuries after renovations by architect, Fioravante Fioravanti, who further installed a clock tower close to it. The second floor of the palace houses the Collezioni Comunali d'Arte, an art collection from the 13th to 19th centuries. A statue of Pope Gregory XIII, who was  responsible for creating the Gregorian calendar, stands above the main portal. Another great feature is Donato Bramante's 16th-century staircase, which is a staircase on which a horse-drawn carriages could ride all the way up to the 1st floor. Wow!

Piazza Maggiore, 6, 40121 Bologna, Italy

+39 051 203040

7. The Teatro Anatomico


The Teatro Anatomico, housed in the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, is an amphitheater where public body dissections were held. Designed in 1637, this area is built in pine wood and decorated with statues of famous anatomists like Hippocrates, Galen, Fabrizio Bartoletti and Gaspare Tagliacozzi, among others. Tiered seating made of cedar, surrounds a central marble table where the dissections were done on. Two skinless figures (1734) support the canopy above the lecturer’s chair. In WWII, this theatre was destroyed but later rebuilt. 

Piazza Galvani, 1, 40124 Bologna, Italy

6. Le Due Torri (The Two Towers of Bologna)


The Two Towers of Bologna is its traditional symbols, and stand tall in the middle of the, Piazza di Porta Ravegnana Square. Originally, the towers had wooden buildings and passageways all around their base, serving military functions in the Middle Ages. 
Today, the Asinelli Tower is open to the public.  It was interestingly enough constructed in the 12th century, but only completed in 1684, standing at an astounding 97.20 meters high, with 498 steps. Local folklore says students climbing it will never graduate! 
The other, Garisenda Tower, is much smaller at 47 meters, with a steeper tilt. 

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, 40126 Bologna, Italy

+39 051 647 2113

5. The Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca


This church, built in 1765, lies about 3.5 km from the city center on a hilltop. It is said to be located at a very celestial position, and is connected to the city walls by the world’s longest portico which has its beginning point at the Piazza di Porta Saragozza. The church is also famous for a painting of the Virgin Mary, believed to have been painted by Saint Luke, transported from the Middle East in the 12th century. 

Via di San Luca, 36, 40135 Bologna, Italy

+39 051 614 2339

4. Museo della Storia di Bologna


Housed within the Palazzo Pepoli is the Museo della Storia di Bologna, a one-of-a-kind interactive museum dedicated to Bologna’s history from the Etruscan period to the present. Opened in 2012, this museum has 35 chronologically themed rooms with 3D films, modern presentations of relics, interactive displays that tell of key episodes and symbolic figures in the city’s history. 

Via Castiglione 8, Bologna, Italy

+39 051 1993 6370

3. Pinacoteca Nazionale


Bologna's main art gallery hosts a grand collection of Bolognese artwork from the 14th century. Most notable of these include baroque canvases by the local, Carraccis brothers, Annibale, Agostino, and their cousin Ludovico. (16th century). The Pinacoteca is housed in the former, Noviziato Gesuita di Sant'Ignazio, a 15th century palace. 

Via delle Belle Arti, 56, 40126 Bologna, Italy

+39 051 420 9467

2. The Basilica di San Petronio


Dedicated to Bologna’s patron saint, Petronio, bishop from 431 to 450 A.D., this basilica stands at an imposing 132 meters and is the world’s 15th largest church. Construction began in 1390, but was never completed with the façade remains incomplete up to date. Look out for the famous 1656 sundial which was behind finding anomalies in the Julian calendar. 
Interesting Fact: The conception of the idea to build a basilica in 1514, was proposed in order to tower over Rome’s St. Peter’s Church.  Such a dream never realized of course since construction could not be completed.

Piazza Galvani, 5, 40124 Bologna, Italy

+39 051 231415

1. The Abbazia di Santo Stefano


The Basilica di Santo Stefano is Bologna’s most famous and most peculiar church. It is also called the, Sette Chiese, since seven churches were located at this location originally, of which only four remain – the Chiesa del Crocefisso, Chiesa della Trinità, Santo Sepolcro and Santi Vitale e Agricola
The basilica’s origins are a matter of contention– while some believe it was built in 430 under bishop Petronio, who decided to build a structure divided into seven churches representing the places of the Passion of Christ, others say it was built on the ruins of a pagan temple, next to which the other churches were added. The structure today incorporates a mix of Romanesque, Lombard and even Byzantine and ancient Roman work, and is a labyrinth of the centuries of Bolognese culture. 

Via Santo Stefano 24, Bologna, Italy


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