Beyond the portico beneath Palazzo della Ragione lies another square that is no less charged with meaning. Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) condenses the values and religious history of the entire Bergamo area.
Several years ago, while work was being carried out on a new heating system under the floor of the Duomo (cathedral) in the heart of upper Bergamo, certain discoveries were made of great importance to the history of the city.
Excavations firstly revealed numerous tombs and later a section of wall with frescos dating back to the thirteenth century. This turned out to be the important remains of a Romanesque basilica dedicated to San Vincenzo, which predated the present Duomo. Following this discovery the entire area under the cathedral was excavated. The dig ascertained that not only was the Romanesque building of considerable size and traced the perimeter of the present Duomo, but another older Paleo-Christian church also lay on the same site. These important discoveries are currently the subject of further study; meanwhile a project is being developed to make the impressive area with its valuable finds accessible to the public.
Almost at the same time, while work was in progress to renovate and restore the Palazzo del Podestà and its distinctive Civic Tower, important remains of Roman Bergamo came to light.
Thanks to this discovery, the site of the ancient Roman Forum, which has long been the subject of great discussion among historians and researchers, has now been identified with absolute certainty.
Overlooking this intimate square are the Cathedral dedicated to the patron saint, St. Alexander, under which the remains of two previous cathedrals have been found, including an early Christian church; the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, with its austere Romanesque exterior that disguises a treasure trove of sumptuous Baroque decoration inside; the Colleoni Chapel, a masterpiece of Lombardy Renaissance, built by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo for the great leader, Colleoni, who is buried alongside the tomb of his daughter Medea, and the Baptistery, which is positioned with particular scenic effect on this side of the square.