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:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.