Bolzano is the capital of Alto Adige, officially known as the province of Bolzano. It is nowhere near the biggest town of the province, but is considered to be one of Italy’s most liveable cities. Main attractions are the Piazza Walther, the Cathedral and the “Iceman” in the Archaeological Museum.
Bolzano City Guide
The central point of the town is the Piazza Walther, named after a 13th century local horn playing troubadour called Walther von der Vogelweide, whose statue occupies the middle of the square.It was placed there in the 19th century, by order of King Maximilian of Bayern.
It is also the location of the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta with its elaborate spire. One of the attractions inside this church is the so-called “wine door”, carved with figures working among the vines.Originally built in 1280, its present structure is the result of a 15th century reconstruction. The 65 meter tall bell tower was constructed in 1519.
The neighbourhood north of the Piazza Walther is the most interesting part of the old town.
The Dominican Church was built in 1270. It has a frescoed cloister and an interior with 14th century wall paintings themed the “Triumph of Death”.
The Sant’Antonio da Padova Church stems from the 17th and the Gothic Franciscan Church from the 14th century . The Sant’Agostino Church was built in 1771 and the Virgin Mary Church of Gries between the 15th and 16th century.
The arcaded Via dei Portici leads to the Museo Civico and its collection of historical clothing, furniture and more.
The 5,000 year old “Iceman” is the biggest attraction of the Archaeological Museum.
The Castel Mareccio was constructed around the 13th-14th century.
The Piazza delle Erbe is lined with interesting buildings. It is from this square, which was constructed in the 13th century, that the porticoes start. Its most important attractions is the Fountain of Neptune.
Other impressive buildings are the 18th century Palazzo Mercantile and the Casa Triolo, constructed in 1603.
A brief history of Bolzano
The original Roman name of Bolzano was Pons Druso, but this was quickly substituted by the present name, probably after a Roman barracks.
Long before the Romans, in the neolithic age, the area was already inhabited, however.
After the Romans, the Lombards ruled the area and in 1004 the city became part of the ecclesiastical principality of Trento. This lasted till Napoleon conquered most of Italy, after which it came to be part of Bayern.
In the 13th century count Meinhard II had had the city walls and gates torn down and the moat filled up. The Piazza delle Erbe became the economic centre of the city, while the Piazza del Grano remained the religious centre.
During World War I it was the seat of the Austrian-Hungarian military command. Bombings in World War II caused severe damage to the city.