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Photo of Two Towers, Bologna

Visit Two Towers, Bologna

The Two Towers are an important attraction in the historic centre of Bologna in north-east Italy

Discover the Two Towers of Bologna

Italy This Way comment: as long as you have the energy and courage to walk up a lot of stairs, a visit to the Two Towers of Bologna is interesting, and the views from the top are exceptional

There were originally numerous towers in the centre of Bologna, but few remain today and the best known and most impressive are the Asinelli Tower and the Garisenda Tower - both very close together in the medieval centre of Bologna and together known as the Two Towers.

Asinelli Tower in Bologna

Both of the Two Towers were built in the first 20 years of the 12th century, and according to legend they were built by two different noble families (who gave their names to the towers), each trying to build a taller tower than their neighbour! The towers also served a military function.

The Asinelli Tower is the taller of the two, around 97 metres tall, and the Garisenda Tower abut half this height at 48 metres tall. When they were first built they were much more similar in height: the Asinelli Tower was 70 metres tall and the Garisenda Tower 60 metres tall, but in the 14th century the first was increased in height and the second was lowered to reduce the chance of collapse.

It was also at this time that ownership of the towers transferred to the city, and they started to be used as a prison. They had a footbridge built to connect them, about 30 metres above ground level.

Since that time, in the following centuries the towers have also been used for various scientific experiments such as the investigation of the speed of the rotation of the earth, by dropping iron balls from the top and studying their trajectory.

During the Second World War the tower platform was used as a lookout tower and a location from where rescue operations in the city could be overseen.

Both towers still lean quite significantly, in different directions! The Garisenda tower has the greatest slope, but since Dante also described how much the tower was leaning in his Inferno, I assume it has been the same for a long time and is unlikely to fall!


Visit the Two Towers in Bologna

The towers are now an important tourist attraction in Bologna.

To visit, you first buy a ticket (cost around 5 euros: you can buy these online or in the ticket office on Piazza Maggiore) and then join the queue at the base of the Asinelli tower at your allotted time (the Asinelli tower is recently restored and the only one of the towers open to the public).

There are 500 wooden steps to reach the top, so you need to be reasonably fit: the steps are often small, narrow and on a slope so visitors with vertigo might find the visit a bit daunting, and those who don't like confined spaces might also mind the visit a challenge. It is not very easy to change your mind once you have started climbing!

As reward for your effort, after your long climb you reach one of the best views across the rooftops of Bologna.

After your visit, you will be pleased to discover that there is an excellent ice cream cafe next to the bottom of the towers!

View of Bologna from the Asinelli Tower

Attractions nearby

For more attractions in the city see the Bologna guide.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Emilia-Romagna guide.

See also: 

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Map of Two Towers, Bologna and places to visit


Two Towers, Bologna places to visit

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Basilica of Saints Bartholomew and Gaetano in Bologna

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The fascinating medieval centre of Bologna is one of the largest to be found in Italy

Bologna guide


The highlight in Dozza is the fortress, restored in Renaissance style in the 16th century

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Modena has a remarkable centre around Piazza Grande and the cathedral, now protected as a world heritage site

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The historic centre of Ferrara is important enough that it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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The large town of Carpi has retained a good number of historic buildings and churches of interest

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...or see all our recommended places to visit in Emilia-Romagna

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