Throughout its history, the site of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in the Italian city of Bergamo has been considered sacred. Back in the days of Ancient Rome, it was occupied by a Roman pagan temple. In the 8th century, with the spread of Christianity, the ancient shrine was replaced with the Church of St. Mary. But already in the 12th century, the construction of the basilica, the famous Catholic church that adorns Piazza Duomo (Duomo Square), began.
The construction of the magnificent monument of sacred architecture lasted five centuries. The slow work pace did not prevent the masters from creating a masterpiece, a genuine work of art. The original design was made in the Lombard Romanesque style. However, over time, the appearance of the church has changed, acquiring the features of the Baroque.
The fact that the church stands next to the episcopal palace has also made adjustments to its exterior. Instead of a central facade, the basilica has two of them at once. One looks out on Duomo Square and is called the Gate of the Pink Lions, the other, with the Gate of the White Lions, faces Rose Square. The gate got its unusual name from the statues of lions, which support the pillars of the portals. The first ones were made of pink Veronese marble, and the second ones were of classic white marble. Both were created by the talented sculptor and architect Giovanni da Campione in the middle of the 14th century.
The Gate of the Pink Lions is more complex and striking. It is decorated with a sculptural composition of three saints: St. Barbara, St. Alexander, and St. Vincent. Above them, there is the Gothic niche with the statue of the Madonna with Child, surrounded by St. Esther and St. Grata. The more modest Gate of White Lions is decorated with a frieze depicting Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles.
The luxurious interiors of the basilica were created in the 17th century. The walls are decorated with tapestries made in Florence according to sketches by the skilled painter Alessandro Allori. There are also such valuable relics as a 14th-century crucifix and bronze candlesticks, dating back to the end of the 16th century.