The ancient part of Brescia, Roman Brixia so-called since the first century BC because of the rocky, hilly ground on which it is built , is bounded to the north-east by Cidneo Hill (245m). Brich was the Celtic word meaning rocky summit, high places. And the hill with its wonderful view over the whole city, has represented the most important element in the town's history from the time of the first settlements in the Bronze age up until the eve of the XX century.
Points of Interest: Monumental buildings
The temple was built by Vespasian in 74 A.D., as the partly restored dedicatory inscription on the pediment shows. The capitolium site had a terrace on three sides with the temple in the middle and two lateral rows of arcades stretching down towards the Forum. The flight of marble steps, which has been restored and made up with bricks, led up to the podium of the raised pronaos, which is characterised by a hexastyle central porch with Corinthian columns about 11 metres high, which were restored during the nineteenth century reconstruction works.
The east side of the square is bounded by a building with an Ionic portico, surmounted by two storeys with architraved windows and enlivened by a typically Venetian use of two colours.The building, constructed where the defensive wall of the Visconti "Cittadella Nuova" (1363) once stood, was designed by Lodovico Beretta and built by Pier Maria Bagnadore in 1595. It incorporates the Clock Tower (1540-1550), with a mechanical clock made by Paolo Gennari of Rezzato, whose dial showing the phases of the moon and the signs of the zodiac has been decorated by various hands.
The south side of the square is occupied by the buildings of the old Monte di Pietà (1484 - 1489) and the new Monte di Pietà (1596 - 1600). The former was designed by Filippo de' Grassi, and takes its name from the institution that occupied it from 1490 onwards, the latter was designed by Pier Maria Bagnadore.
The theatre was designed by the architect Carlo Manfredi and was built on the same spot where, a century earlier in 1644, the first public theatre in Brescia was opened, founded by the Accademia degli Erranti. In 1789 the facade and the three great arches which are incorporated in the arcade along Corso Zanardelli were added and, at a later date,at the suggestion of the architect Gaspare Turbino, the imposing flight of steps leading up to the entrance to the theatre.
The Queriniana library was founded in 1747 and opened to the public by Cardinal Angelo Maria Querini, formerly librarian at the Vatican library, well known for his bibliophily.
He had the monumental palace designed and built by the architect Marchetti and donated his remarkable private bibliographic collections, legating a considerable sum to enable the library to expand in the future.
One of the city symbols, the tower was built in 1248 and is rated amongst the Middle Ages most important monuments. Constructed using remains of Roman buildings along the pre-existing medieval walls in order to protect the so called “San Giovanni” door, the tower is 31 meters high and has a 10.6 meters square plan. It carried out the function of municipal treasure storage, rationing warehouse, and prison too. The bell area was added in the XV century, while in the XVI century the fountain in Via Pace was embedded in its base.
"The Granarolo", so-called because up until the end of the XIX century it was used as a corn market, is built of undressed, white Botticino stone. It was designed by Angelo Vito and Luigi Basiletti and finished in 1823.
The building on the northern side of Piazza Labus, which preserves the remains of Brescia Roman origins, was founded in the 17h century. In this period the building was renovated, and were also reorganised all the architectural elements from the Middle Ages that covered the then degraded Roman remains, still clearly recognizable on the palace façade. The systematic archaeological excavations carried out between 1993 and 1998 in the surrounding area brought to light large excerpts of the indoor and outdoor marble floor decorations of the Roman basilica and of the Forum from the period of Augustus. Despite the fact that these findings are fragmentary, it is possible to trace the outline of the architectural and decorative pattern of the large public building, destined to the most important civil activities of the community, among which the administration of justice. During the Flavian dynasty the basilica enclosed the southern side of the Forum as a sort of monumental entrance, linking with the side porticoes, counterbalancing the Sanctuary to the north.