The origin of the monastery of Pontida dates back to the eleventh century, a fundamental era in the history not only of the Church but of all European civilization. It is the era of the great conflict between the Papacy and the Empire, which goes by the name of “struggle for investitures”.
Founded by Alberto da Prezzate, a local nobleman, who gave Cluny part of his land in Pontida, on which a small church already stood, to build a hospice for travelers and pilgrims. Later a monastery was built, inspired by the rule of Saint Benedict, whose Prior, until the 14th century, played the role of vicar of the Abbot of Cluny for Lombardy.
Its presence can be seen in the distance with the tall bell tower crowned by the statue of St. James. The vast abbey complex can be admired from the large square that leads to its entrance. The Basilica, preceded by a long staircase, has a neoclassical façade, by Bovara from Lecco, with a linear tympanum and pronaos with slender fluted columns.
Inside, the Gothic structure of the three naves has remained unchanged, with the beam pillars supporting the high cross vaults. The chapels preserve valuable marble altars from the Baroque period. In the presbytery, the high altar, built in recent years, contains two stone slabs with sculptures dating from the late 11th and early 12th centuries, belonging to the primitive sepulcher of St. Albert, recognized as one of the oldest examples of sculpture Romanesque in Lombardy.
The right aisle leads to the sacristy where, from the Renaissance stone portal, you can admire a beautiful play of perspectives in a sixteenth-century fresco dedicated to redemption. The Upper Cloister was built around the 16th century and its design, in Renaissance style, is attributed to Pietro Isabello, one of the most important architects of the time. The frescoes of twenty-six popes of the Benedictine order are preserved in the walls. From its eastern side, one enters the Aula Capitolare frescoed with paintings of the early sixteenth century and still used today by the monks for the main rituals. The entrance to the Monastery leads to the Lower Cloister adorned with terracotta friezes, part of which is from the 16th century and partly from the 18th century, with architectural fragments from the IX-XI centuries.