Bologna Piazza Maggiore
A popular gathering place and home to the city’s most grand church, Piazza Maggiore is one of the highlights of Bologna’s historic center. This public square dates from the 13th century, but its most important buildings—including Palazzo dei Notai, Palazzo d'Accursio, Palazzo del Podestà, and Palazzo dei Bianchi—took centuries to complete, and its central Fountain of Neptune wasn’t added until 1566. Stroll through the piazza to get a taste of Bologna’s vibrant atmosphere, stopping to visit the imposing Basilica di San Petronio or linger over a cappuccino at one of the porticoed cafés.
Piazza Maggiore is a top sight in most city walking or bike tours, along with attractions like the Two Towers and the churches of Santo Stefano and San Domenico. Bologna is famous for its rich local cuisine, so visitors can also opt for food tours that combine sightseeing with tastings of local specialties.
Things to know before you go
- Piazza Maggiore is pedestrian-only, so children can explore without the danger of traffic.
- Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes if you visit as part of a bike or walking tour.
- The square and its porticoes are wheelchair-accessible.
- Cafés and restaurants line the square, so you can stop for a snack or meal.
How to get there
Piazza Maggiore is Bologna’s main central square, and it’s just a short walk from the Bologna Centrale train station or from the most important attractions in the city center.
When to get there
Piazza Maggiore is bustling with people all day and far into the evening. The square is particularly beautiful at night, when the basilica, palaces, and central fountain are dramatically illuminated.
Neptune, the Symbol of Bologna
Piazza Maggiore is home to one of the most important landmarks in Bologna, Giambologna’s 16th-century Fountain of Neptune, a marble-and-bronze monument that sits in the center of the part of Piazza Maggiore known as Piazza del Nettuno. The trident held by the statue of Neptune inspired the logo for Maserati, which was founded in Bologna.
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- Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno)
- San Petronio Basilica (Basilica di San Petronio)
- Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio (Teatro Anatomico dell'Archiginnasio)
- Prendiparte Tower (Torre Prendiparte)
- Two Towers (Due Torri)
- Oratory of Santa Cecilia (Oratorio Di Santa Cecilia)
- Basilica of San Domenico (Basilica di San Domenico)
- Basilica of Santo Stefano (Basilica di Santo Stefano)
- Bologna University Quarter
- Albergati Palace (Palazzo Albergati)
- National Gallery of Bologna (Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna)
- Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (Santuario della Madonna di San Luca)
- Ducati Museum (Museo Ducati)
- Marconi Museum (Museo Marconi)
- Lamborghini Museum (Museo Lamborghini)