Medieval skyscrapers in Bologna

Italy’s Bologna, in medieval times, would have been a city filled with medieval-era “skyscrapers”.

It s estimated that up to 180 towers may have existed during the medieval period.

The reason for the construction of so many towers is not known. It is assumed that these constructions would have been built for defensive purposes, but also as a sign of wealth and privilege for the town’s wealthy and prestigious families.

Bologna towers, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

Through the years, some collapsed, and others were torn down.

Sadly, few of those towers exist today, and two remain free-standing in Bologna’s center. Known as the Two Towers, they are the landmarks of modern-day Bologna.

Close to Bologna’s main piazza stands the Asinelli Tower (97 meters) and the leaning Garisenda Tower (48 meters).

Both were constructed in the 12th century, and both towers were mentioned in Dante’s Inferno.

The Garisenda Tower was shortened at some point, most probably for safety reasons. It is a leaning tower.

Bologna towers, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

The Asinelli Tower can be climbed, and offers spectacular views over the city. Years ago, it was easy to get access to the tower without booking in advance. On my last visit in December, I learned you must now book in advance on the website or through the tourist office. Sadly, it was sold out on the day I was in Bologna. This is why we climbed to the top of San Petronio to enjoy its observation terrace.

Next time I’ll be better prepared…

Enjoy the medieval skyscrapers the next time you’re in Bologna.

Bologna towers, Italy/ Kimberly Sullivan

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