Porticoes of Bologna

The Porticoes of Bologna are an important cultural and architectural heritage of Bologna, Italy and represent a symbol of the city together with the numerous towers.[1] No other city in the world has as many porticoes as Bologna: all together, they cover more than 38 kilometres (24 mi) only in the historic center, but can reach up to 53 kilometres (33 mi) if those outside the medieval city walls are also considered.[2]

Porticoes of Bologna
UNESCO World Heritage Site
LocationBologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
CriteriaCultural: (iv)
Inscription2021 (44th Session)
Area52.18 ha (0.2015 sq mi)
Buffer zone1,225.62 ha (4.7321 sq mi)
Coordinates44°29′29″N 11°19′58″E / 44.49139°N 11.33278°E / 44.49139; 11.33278
Porticoes of Bologna is located in Emilia-Romagna
Porticoes of Bologna
Location of Porticoes of Bologna in Emilia-Romagna
Porticoes of Bologna is located in Italy
Porticoes of Bologna
Porticoes of Bologna (Italy)

On account of their cultural and artistic significance, in 2021 the porticoes of Bologna have been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site.[3]


Wooden porticoes in via Marsala, an example of how early porticoes looked

The porticoes of Bologna were built almost spontaneously, probably in the early Middle Ages, as a projection of private buildings on public land, in order to increase living spaces. The first historical evidence dates back to 1041.[4] In a first period the houses were increased by the expansion of upper floors and the creation of wooden projections. Over the years, the jetties increased in size and it was necessary to build support columns from below to prevent them from collapsing, thus creating the worldwide famous arcades.[5]

In the following centuries the success of the arcades was determined by the need to cope with the strong increase in the presence of students and scholars at the University of Bologna, but also with immigration from the countryside. The expansion of the porticoes began in 1288, when a notice from the local municipality established that all new houses had to be built with a portico, while those already existing that did not have one were required to add it.[6] During all the Middle Ages, the arcades were made of wood, then, following a decree issued on 26 March 1568 by the pontifical governor Giovanni Battista Doria and the so-called gonfaloniere Camillo Paleotti, they were rebuilt with bricks or stones. Despite this, some buildings with wooden porticoes still survives today, like those in via Marsala or in Corte Isolani.

The Portico of San Luca is the city's and world's longest.[7] It connects Porta Saragozza (one of the twelve gates of the ancient walls built in the Middle Ages, which circled a 7.5 km (4.7 mi) part of the city) with the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, a church begun in 1723 on the site of an 11th-century edifice which had already been enlarged in the 14th century, prominently located on a hill (289 metres or 948 feet high) overlooking the town, which is one of Bologna's main landmarks. The windy 666 vault arcades, almost four kilometres (3,796 m or 12,454 ft) long, effectively links the Sanctuary of San Luca to the city centre. Its porticos provide shelter for the traditional procession which every year since 1433 has carried a Byzantine icon of the Madonna with Child attributed to Luke the Evangelist down to the Bologna Cathedral during the Feast of the Ascension.[8]



  1. ^ I Portici di Bologna, Bologna Welcome
  2. ^ "Bologna, la città dei portici". Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  3. ^ UNESCO World Heritage: The Porticoes of Bologna
  4. ^ I portici di Bologna? La storica bacchetta Wikipedia: "Non nacquero nel tardo medioevo", la Repubblica
  5. ^ I portici Bolognesi nel contesto europeo
  6. ^ Francesca Bocchi, I Portici di Bologna e l'edilizia civile medievale, Bologna, Grafis Edizioni, 1990
  7. ^ Caird, Joe (16 January 2009). "Bologna city guide: top five sights". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  8. ^ Il Portico di San Luca, il più lungo "corridoio" mai costruito al mondo, Guida Bologna

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