One of several towns in Italy with an intact ring of defences, Bergamo’s impressive walls were built by the Venetians over 30 years starting in 1561. Ironically, due to changing political fortunes, the fortifications were never actually used – no one had the audacity to attack them – which is probably why they still look so new and handsome today. Five gates, 14 bastions and approximately 5.3km of wall enclose the Città Alta, which is linked to Città Bassa by two cable cars.

You can walk around the fortifications following various perimeter roads and streets (a distance of around 3.5km), most of which offer extensive views over the Città Bassa and the Lombard plains beyond.

In 2017 Unesco named Bergamo’s Venetian defences a World Heritage site, along with those of five other Mediterranean towns.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bergamo attractions

1. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

0.14 MILES

Bergamo's most striking church, begun in 1137, is quite a mishmash of styles. To its whirl of Romanesque apses (on which some external frescoes remain…

2. Cattedrale di Bergamo

0.15 MILES

Roman remains were discovered during renovations of Bergamo's baroque cathedral, with an interior dating to the 17th century. A rather squat building, it…

3. Cappella Colleoni

0.15 MILES

The Cappella Colleoni, attached to the north side of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, was built between 1472 and 1476 as a magnificent mausoleum-cum…

4. Museo e Tesoro Della Cattedrale

0.16 MILES

Down the steps right next to the duomo, this glittering museum is filled with sacred art and reliquary from the cathedral's collection, as well as…

5. Baptistry

0.17 MILES

This octagonal baptistry was built in 1340 but moved to its present spot and was given a few neo-Gothic flourishes in 1898. Inside, you'll find bas…

6. Palazzo della Ragione

0.17 MILES

The imposing arches and columns of the Palazzo della Ragione sit at the southern end of Piazza Vecchia. Built in the 12th century, it bears the lion of St…

7. Torre di Gombito

0.17 MILES

For a wonderful view from one of the highest points in the old town, climb the 12th-century Gombito Tower. Visits must be reserved in advance at the…

8. Palazzo del Podestà

0.19 MILES

On the northwest side of Piazza Vecchia, the fresco-dappled Palazzo del Podestà was traditionally home to Venice's representative in Bergamo. Today, the…