Since the 9th century there were two cathedrals in Bergamo: one was the basilica of Saint Alexander, which stood on the site believed to be that of his martyrdom, and the other was dedicated to Saint Vincent, construction of which apparently began in the Lombard era, on the site of the present cathedral. Bishop Giovanni Barozzi commissioned the re-building of the cathedral of St. Vincent in the mid-15th century, for the plans of which Filarete claimed credit.
In 1561 the Venetians demolished the cathedral of St. Alexander for reasons of military expediency, leaving St. Vincent's as the sole survivor. At the beginning of the 17th century Bishop Giovanni Emo unified the canons of the two old cathedrals. Finally Bishop Gregorio Barbarigo succeeded in obtaining from Pope Innocent XI the bull Exponi nobis of 18 August 1697, which established for the diocese a single chapter and a single cathedral, changing the dedication of the surviving cathedral to Saint Alexander from Saint Vincent.
In 1689, the structure was refurbished to designs by Carlo Fontana. Another major renovation was undertaken in the 19th century, culminating in the completion of the Neo-classical west front in 1889.
The cathedral has a Latin cross ground plan with a single nave.
The first side-chapel to the right contains a St. Benedict and Saints by Andrea Previtali (1524), and the first side-chapel to the left, the Madonna and child with saints by Giovan Battista Moroni (1576). The church also contains a Madonna with child with two doves by Giovanni Cariani, as well as canvases attributed to Giambettino Cignaroli and Sebastiano Ricci, including a Saints Firmus, Rusticus, and Proculus (1704). In the apse is a Martyrdom of Bishop Saint John of Bergamo (1731-1743) by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and a Saint Alexander by Carlo Innocenzo Carloni. The main altar was designed by Filippo Juvarra. The choir area has wooden intaglio panels by Johann Karl Sanz.
Nearby stands the octagonal baptistery, constructed in 1340 by Giovanni da Campione for the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. During major building works in 1650 the baptistery was dismantled, but was saved, and in 1856 reassembled in the canons' courtyard. It was moved to its present site in 1889.
Inside are bas-reliefs of episodes of the Life of Christ, a statue of John the Baptist and a font of 1340 by Giovanni da Campione.
Round the upper level runs a colonnade, and over it stand eight 14th-century statues representing the Virtues.References:
The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.
A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.
In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.
In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.
In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.
From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.
In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.
The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.
In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.
The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.