The Cathedral, an authentic Gothic-Romanesque jewel, is one of the city’s symbolic landmarks. It towers majestically at one end of Piazza Walther, in an area that was previously occupied by a proto-Christian basilica. Outside it stands the Leitacher Törl (the Wine Gate), whose name refers to the 14th-century concession made to the church to sell the precious tipple. Inside it is a sandstone pulpit by Hans Lutz von Schussenried (1514), an impressive altar and a 15th-century wooden crucifix. You can also visit the Cathedral Treasury with its collection of sacred vestments, relics, scrolls and numerous gold artefacts, dating mostly from the 18th century.
Don’t miss a visit to the nearby Dominican church. Built in the late 13th century, it houses a Guercino altarpiece depicting the apparition of St Dominic, a number of Byzantine paintings and the Chapel of St John (commissioned by Tuscan banker Giovanni de’ Rossi), containing an extraordinary cycle of 14th-century frescoes by the Giotto school with stories of Mary, St Nicholas, St John the Evangelist and St John the Baptist. The church is a stone's throw from Piazza Walther von der Vogelweide, the swankiest part of the city, at the centre of which stands the statue of the eponymous German poet who lived between the 11th and 12th centuries.
The square hosts characteristic events and attractions from the Flower Festival to the Christmas Market and draws citizens and tourists alike, who can be found there in summer and winter, exploring its most picturesque corners and frequenting its quaintest coffee shops.
Piazza Walther is bordered to the north by Piazza del Grano, in the heart of the medieval town, where the grain market used to take place. The city’s commercial history stretches back at least a thousand years, when important trade fairs were held there due to its strategic position close to the Alpine passes. To make the most of the available space, multi-storey buildings were constructed complete with an underground cellar for goods, stores and workshops on the ground floor and accommodation on the upper floors. Narrow alleys link the arcades to the side streets. There you will find the Mercantile Museum, which from the first half of the 17th century was formerly the seat of the Mercantile Magistrate, who was appointed by Archduchess Claudia de’ Medici to resolve disputes between traders. On display there are historic documents, paintings and artistic furniture and, on the first floor, an impressive reception hall. Via Portici also contains some of the city’s best shops, which sell traditional objects and clothing. Continuing along Via Portici takes you to Piazza Erbe, with its picturesque market. In this area, dominated by historic buildings, you can buy flowers, seasonal products and the very best local produce.
Bolzano - Parish Lane (Vicolo della Parrocchia)
A walk along Via Museo takes you to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, which showcases exhibits from the Paleolithic era to the age of Charlemagne and even Romanesque relics. Don’t miss a glimpse of Ötzi, the Similaun Man who lived 5000 years ago. In 1991, German couple Erika and Helmut Simon discovered a mummified corpse in the ice near Giogo di Tisa, some 3200 metres above sea level; it was the remains of the Iceman, who lived over 5000 years ago at the beginning of the Copper Age. Ötzi, who may have been a shepherd or even a fugitive, died as a result of an arrow wound to the shoulder, with his body and equipment perfectly preserved by subzero temperatures. Today he rests in a sterile glass case that artificially reproduces the conditions up on the glacier. Since it opened in 1998, the museum has welcomed over four million visitors.