Welcome is Bologna
MAP

The oldest University in Europe through its places

Discovering the University of Bologna through its places and streets.
The University and the city of Bologna are deeply linked by an intense relationship through centuries. When visiting Bologna, it is therefore interesting to see some of historical places and to know some facts that made the University of Bologna famous worldwide.

The University of Bologna did not have its own building until the middle of the 16th century. Previously, doctors were holding lessons in their own houses or in rooms rented by the Comune (city council) in the area of the Porta Nuova, Via San Mamolo, Via dei Libri (today Via Farini). Students, especially foreign students represented significant revenue for the city of Bologna. “Portico” (arcades) were introduced to extend housing for students. This specific element of Bologna's urbanisation is 42 km in lenght. The San Procolo's church in Via d'Azeglio, that contains the tomb of one of the first Christian martyr of Bologna, was one of the welcome centres for law students at the University of Bologna. The nearby Collegio di Spagna (Spanish college), founded by the cardinal Egidio Albornoz in 1364, is a unique testimony of various colleges that were housing students from different countries. The university itinerary includes the tombs of Glossators, a testimony of the social prestige of university doctors, located next to the churches San Francesco and San Domenico. Those two main churches used to be points of reference for medieval students: the first one for so-called “artists” (students of medicine, philosophy, arithmetic, astronomy, logic, rhetoric and grammar), the second one was for “lawyers” - law students. The Museo Medievale (Medieval Museum) contains different illustrations of doctors with scholars. There is also the Lapide della Pace (Peace stone, 1222) sculptured to commemorate the peace between students and the Comune (city council) after the capital punishment of one student accused of trying to tempt a noblewoman. In front of the Santa Maria della Vita's church, you can join the “portico”  (arcades) of the Ospedale della Morte (Death Hospital), a big complex marked by portico del Pavaglione, Via de' Foscherari, Via Marchesana and Via dei Musei (called Via della Morte – “street of the Death” in the past). The complex consisted of several sections: for men, for women and wounded persons but there were also parts dedicated to offices, schools of medicine and an ice-room. The complex was attended by students of medicine who were studying anatomy on corpses of dead prisoners in the Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio located next to the Death Hospital. The Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio (Archiginnasio Palace) was built at the request of the pope Pio IV in 1561 as a central seat of the University of Bologna. Leaving Via dell'Archiginnasio, you can join Via Castiglione where next to the Palazzo della Mercanzia (Merchandise Palace) there is a stone inside of the wall recording the exception of the tax duty for students of the University during the 15th century – another testimony of the social respect for students in the municipal life. The Palazzo Poggi (Poggi Palace) is a place that you do not want to miss in the university's itinerary. The palace was built in the middle of the 16th century and it was chosen by Napoleon as a new seat of the University of Bologna in 1802. There are many museums dedicated to the oldest European university (founded in 1088) but all collections are concentrated in the Palazzo Poggi and the university zone between Via Belmeloro, Via Irnerio and Viale Filopanti. Do not miss the Orto Botanico (Botanic garden) that preserves a vegetable heritage unique in Europe. Going back to Via Zamboni, the main street of the student's life in Bologna, you can visit the Biblioteca Universitaria (University Library) opened to the public in 1756.


Read the history of Bologna University

Church of San Procolo

Church of San Procolo

Inside the church there is the Ark preserving the body of Saint Procolo (one of the first Christian martyrs in Bologna)

Collegio di Spagna

Collegio di Spagna

This complex was founded in 1364, by Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, to host Spanish students enrolled in the famous university town.

Basilica of San Francesco

Basilica of San Francesco

This church is the first example of French Gothic style in Italy. It was built between 1236 and 1254 on the initiative of the Franciscan community that stayed in the city already since 1218 with Bernardo di Quintavalle.

Museo Civico Medievale

Museo Civico Medievale

The Medieval Museum in Bologna enlightens visitors about the history of the city, often turbulent. The fascinating collection of bronze statues, armours, handmade products, illuminated manuscripts and monumental tombs is located inside Palazzo Ghisilardi-Fava, nicely painted.

Hospital of Death

Hospital of Death

Just in front of Santa Maria della Vita church, some stairs lead to the majestic portico belonging to the ancient Hospital of Death, which was very popular among medicine students who used the corpses of executed men to make anatomy studies in the nearby university, Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio.

Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio

Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio

The construction of the Palace was commissioned by Cardinal Borromeo between 1562 and 1563 following the project by architect Antonio Morandi called Terribilia; it was to house the lecture halls for the University Study (Law and Arts). Up to 1803 it was the seat of the University and since 1838 it has been housing the Civic Library.

Palazzo Poggi

Palazzo Poggi

The palace, designed in the mid 16th century probably by Pellegrino Tibaldi with the contribution of Bartolomeo Triachini, who is attributed in particular the inner courtyard, became the new seat of the National University, after the reform of Napoleon's period (1803).

Museo di Paleontologia e Geologia "G.Capellini"

Museo di Paleontologia e Geologia "G.Capellini"

It is the largest Paleontological Museum in Italy both for its surface area and for the number and importance of its collections (a recent estimate rates it as having about one million pieces).

Museo di Zoologia

Museo di Zoologia

This is one of the most important zoological museums in Italy thanks to its large size and number of collections preserved and on display.

Orto Botanico

Orto Botanico

The Botanical Garden of the University of Bologna is one of the oldest in Italy. It was founded in 1568 on the initiative of Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605). After several transfers found its permanent home in Via Irnerio, a short distance from Via Zamboni. The total area is about two hectares and on it have grown more than five thousand specimens of native and exotic plants.

Via Zamboni

Via Zamboni

Via Luigi Zamboni is a historic street located in the center of Bologna and heart of university life. It crosses Piazza Verdi and Largo Respighi where there are Teatro Comunale and the offices of many faculties.

Piazza Verdi

Piazza Verdi

Piazza Giuseppe Verdi is located in the city centre of Bologna, not far from “le due torri” (the two towers, symbols of the city), crossed by Via Zamboni, university centre par excellence.

University Library of Bologna

University Library of Bologna

The library open its doors to the public in 1756. With the first library decree of the United Italy (1869) the library came to be one of the most important in the country and in 1885 it was officially recognized as of University Status. It is worth remembering that in addition to the Library’s enormous wealth of written and printed heritage – now amounting to over 1.250.000 volumes – it also comprises an art collection made up of over 400 portraits of illustrious figures, while 16th century frescoes.