9 Must See Attractions In Bologna, Italy juni 6, 2022 – Posted in: Italy, Travel – Tags: Attractions, Bologna, Holiday, Italy, Vacations, Weekend Breaks
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Tourist attractions in Bologna
There is plenty to see in Bologna and if you are only in the city on a day trip from Florence, Venice or Milan, you wont have time to see it all. Instead, take a weekend getaway so you can see all the fascinating attractions. However, it can still be difficult to choose what to see, so here is a list of the sights in Bologna that you will definitely have to visit when you are on holiday in the city.
There are many other exciting sights in Bologna and you can read much more and plan your own visit to: Bologna Welcome
Bologna, the city of many names
La grassa, la dotta, la rossa… the fat, the learned, the red. Bologna has been called a lot through the ages, and besides being Italy’s pantry with all the great food, it is also the world’s oldest university city. The red nickname comes partly from the city’s beautiful colors and partly from the political observance of the city.
But that’s not all. With all the great restaurants in Bologna, you also have to set aside time for a walk to the many exciting sights in the city, so you do not come back as “la grassa”, the fat tourist!
9 sights in Bologna to see
One of the sights in Bologna that you can hardly avoid seeing is Piazza Maggiore. Here in the city’s central square, there is plenty of life around the clock. During the day, large crowds of tourists come by to see the Church of San Petronio, the town hall and the fountain of Neptune in the adjacent Piazza del Nettuno. In the evening, the locals go for a stroll, while their lively conversation echoes between the red and yellow walls.
Read more here: Piazza Maggiore
Basilica of San Petronio
The Basilica Church for Skt. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna from about 431-450, is an impressive sight as it towers over Piazza Maggiore in all its incompleteness. Construction began in the 14th century, but when rumors of the great edifice that would surpass St. Peter’s in its beauty reached Rome, the flow of money was stopped. In the small museum at the back of the church, you can see what the finished building should have looked like. From the top of the church tower there is the most beautiful view over the city.
The history of Bologna is closely linked to the university and the science that sprang from it. In the church you can therefore experience something you have probably never seen in a religious building before: a 68 meters long sundial. If you stand on the left side of the church, you can see the entrance hole to the sun beam in the ceiling.
Read more here: Basilica di San Petronio
In the northwestern part of the square, you can look straight into the past in the current public library. Through the glass panes in the floor lie the ruins of the former Roman colony, Bononia. The entrance to the excavation is free, and you enter through the basement. Here you can walk over the old streets, wells and the remains of religious and secular buildings as well as a fragment of a fountain from the later botanical garden. The safe at the entrance to the museum also testifies to the building’s changeable history: in addition to the library, botanical garden and a bank, there has also been a restaurant on site.
Read more here: Salaborsa
Bologna also houses the world’s oldest university, which today has 100,000 students. Since the 12th century, they have flocked to the city to share in the knowledge that the city’s scholars have gathered. In 1562, construction began on the Archiginnasio Palace, which would bring together the various faculties into one building, completed in 1563. Today, you can still visit the impressive library of over 850,000 manuscripts, books and journals. Also exciting is the Teatro Anatomico, where the medical students learned anatomy by dissecting corpses.
Over the years, the space became cramped in Archiginnasio, and today the university is spread all over the city. Along the university street Via Zamboni you can see several of the buildings that house the “new” university.
Read more here: Biblioteca dell’Archiginnasio
Museo Civico Archeologico
The Archaeological Museum tells the story of Bologna: from the earliest traces of prehistoric settlement to the Etruscan founding of the city of Felsina to the colonization of the Romans and the new name, Bononia. The large Egyptian collection is also worth a visit, which with its 3,500 objects is one of the most important in Europe.
Read more here: Archaeological Museum of Bologna
Le Due Torri
The two towers, Bologna’s landmark, were built in the 12th century as a symbol of the immense wealth that has always accompanied the city. Being the Ferrari’s of the time, they once counted up to 180 towers in the city, of which only about 20 remain today. There is access to the tallest tower, Torre degli Asinell, which is 97 meters tall. Here, the 498 steps lead you up to the platform, where you can try to count all the red roofs. The smaller tower, Torre Garisenda, had to be shortened in the 14th century due to the increasing slope, down to today’s 47 meters.
Read more here: Le Due Torri
The Jewish Ghetto
Just north of Piazza Maggiore is the former Jewish ghetto. In 1555, the pope dictated the construction of ghettos for Jews across the country. From sunset to sunrise, the Jews were locked inside the small area, and only in the morning could they again be allowed to enter the city through one of the three gates. From 1593 and two hundred years onwards, Jews were not allowed into Bologna.
If you want to take a walk in the narrow streets, start on Via Rizzoli. Here you turn right onto Via Guglielmo Oberdan and then Via dei Giudei. Continue up to Via dell’Inferno, where in number 16 there used to be a synagogue, marked with a memorial plaque on the opposite wall. Also visit the Museo Ebraico di Bologna, the Jewish Museum.
Read more here: The former Jewish ghetto
On your way through the city, you can’t help but notice the colonnades that stretch almost 40 kilometers through the streets of Bologna. The covered corridors provide a welcoming shade when the sun is baking down, and in winter they give shelter from the rain and the biting cold. Protecting from the weather is not the only reason they were built. In the 12th century, the population of the university town grew explosively. To make room for the city’s new residents, it was decided to include the space above the sidewalk. With new apartments built on top of the colonnades, this at the same time gave Bologna its characteristic narrow streets.
Read more here: The porticoes of Bologna
Sanctuary of San Luca
Even more impressive is the four-kilometer-long colonnade up to the Church of San Luca, the world’s longest continuous colonnade. To protect pilgrims visiting the church from the rain, the town’s inhabitants decided in the late 17th century to extend the colonnades up the mountain. It is no coincidence that the colonnade has 666 arches, the number of the Devil. The Virgin Mary, for whom the church was built, however, gives travelers its protection.
The present church was built in the 18th century, and behind the altar you can admire the beautiful icon, the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus, which a pilgrim brought to the early chapel in the 12th century. From the top of the dome there is a breathtaking view over the countryside around Bologna. See opening hours via the link.
Read more here: Santuario di San Luca
How to get to San Luca
Note that the walk from Porta Saragozza and up through the colonnades is for for people in good shape. If you aren’t tired after the journey upwards, then take the beautiful route further across the mountain and down through the green parks. Follow Via di Monte Albano and turn left onto Via di Casaglia. If you don’t want to walk, a small train, the San Luca Express, runs from Piazza Maggione up to the church and back again.
Tips for your holiday in Bologna
Where to stay in Bologna – best areas
There are many wonderful hotels in Bologna – so where are you going to live? On Booking.com you can see the large selection of hotels in Bologna, and right here you’ll get a few good tips for booking a hotel in the Italian city.
As long as you choose a hotel within the old city walls, marked by the ring road, you live within walking distance to all the best restaurants and sights. In the small streets in the center of the old town center there is a cozy street life around the clock. Goods are delivered early in the morning, and both tourists and locals stay out late, having a great time in the city.
If you are sensitive to sound, choose a hotel that is closer to the city wall than Piazza Maggiore. On the other hand, the old town center is where all the fun happens and where the most charming hotels are located. Our best advice is to bring a set of earplugs and join the party! Are you especially fond of partying, then find a hotel near the new university.
See all hotels in Bologna on Booking.com by doing your own search here:
A recommendation: Al Cappello Rosso
We stayed at the iconic hotel Al Cappello Rosso, which since 1375 has welcomed guests to the charming hotel, lying only a few steps away from the city’s central Piazza Maggiore. The small luxury hotel with the authentic and charming atmosphere has over 600 years of experience in offering a luxurious holiday beyond the usual. The hotel has 33 splendid rooms and 10 apartments, decorated with the history of the house in mind. Some of the rooms are decorated by local artists, while others are themed rooms, such as “Shock in Pink”, which honors the legendary fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
Al Cappello Rosso is a hotel for you who want to stay right in the center of a charming luxury hotel with lots of history.
How do you get to Bologna
Most larger airline companies fly out to Bologna. The airport of Bologna, Aeroporto G. Marconi Bologna (BLQ), is located north-west of the city, a 20-minute drive from the city center. You can board the airport bus headed for the train station in Bologna, and tickets can be purchased at the station or at Aerobus. It costs €6 per. person, while a taxi to the center costs between €15-20.