San Vigilio Castle

Bergamo, Italy

Representing a clearly visible symbol of power, San Vigilio Castle has been the residence of Bergamo’s numerous rulers for centuries. It is located 496 meters above the sea level, on top of the hill that gives it its name, overlooking the Città Alta: that’s why it used to have a strategic role in case of attacks. The circle plan of the building resembles a star, featuring the four towers called Castagneta, Belvedere, Del Ponte and San Vigilio. Its basements are very tortuous: a tunnel (accessible in part) was also found, connecting the castle directly to the northern side of the hills fortification, inside the San Marco Fortress.

The first news about a fortification on the Hill dates back to the 6th century AD, even if we can’t rule out the presence some previous Roman buildings. In 889, the future king of Italy Arnolfo di Carinzia decided to conquer it, sending away the religious community inhabiting it since the VI Century, which had built a small fortress called Castello della Cappella (Chapel’s Castle), dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene.The structure thus became a strategic military post, to the extent that in 1166 Bergamo Town Council decided to build a bigger castle. Thanks to the work of Milan’s Duchy in the XIV Century and mostly of the Republic of Venice in The XV century, San Vigilio Castle underwent further enlargements and reinforcements. Many changes were carried out, including the four fortified towers provided with casemates and embrasures connected one another by a defensive wall and a protection moat.

During the XVI century the castle endured numerous sieges by the French and the Spanish. Therefore, a massive defensive wall was built, while the central medieval tower was demolished in order to let more garrisons get in; besides, the castled was equipped with the soldiers’ accommodations and the castellan’s house.

In the end of the XIX century, the castle begun to be seen as touristic attraction: the entire historical complex was purchased by the Soregaroli family to open a restaurant. It was a kind of premonition, as today the San Vigilio hill, with its two fancy restaurants, is considered one of the best places to have a romantic dinner. The San Vigilio funicular, established in 1912 to connect the hill to Sant’Alessandro Gate, also enhances the charming atmosphere

Later, the castle was bought by Bergamo’s Municipality and opened to the public in 1962, while the funicular (closed since 1976) was reactivated in 1991.

Currently the secret passage linking the San Marco Fortress with the castle can be visited, thanks to the activity of a speleological group called “Le Nottole”, which arranges guided tours on request.

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Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Italy

More Information

www.visitbergamo.net

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Giedrius K (2 years ago)
Nice panorama once You go on top. Unique place, though not much more to see there.
Emma Vanderveken (2 years ago)
More on the expensive side. They charge three euros for tap water and five euros per person for 'coperta'. However, the food we got was really good. The view is also amazing.
Lucia (2 years ago)
Good nice place from where you can observe all Bergamo. There are restaurants there where you can have a rest. Place represents the ruins of an old castle with beautiful gardens. You can see the towers inside. It will be interesting for children. You can get there by feet, by car or bucicle or by funicular.
Oktawia (2 years ago)
In castle is amazing view in whole Bergamo. You can ride in funicolare, but it's queue in here, so I recommend you go on foot, becouse you discover beautiful place. You can feel like Sherlock Holmes who need found treasure. It's adventure to go on foot but when you go on top is awesome rewards.
Ivan Zasokhlin (2 years ago)
Hotel is recently renewed. Awesome views from the top of the Citta Alta are all situated in the hotel. Parking and driving is a bit tricky, but overall quality is top notch. Breakfast is good, but not the best. Eggs, porridge and coffee to your choice.
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