Bologna’s Doorknockers

The doorknocker (battiporta or picchiotto in Italian) is a common door feature found around the world. In Bologna a wide range of styles can be seen, adding interest to a walk around the porticoes.

The origins of the doorknocker go back at least to ancient Greece and examples of the ring and hand styles have been found from this period. These styles remain popular today.

ring style doorknocker Bologna
A classic ring style doorknocker in Bologna.

The hand style is popular in Muslim countries where it’s known as “Fatima’s Hand”, but these can also be found in European cities such as Bologna.

Bologna hand style doorknocker
A hand style doorknocker in Bologna.

In places such as Pompeii, ancient Roman examples featuring lions and fearful figures like Medusa have been found.

Lions have remained popular over the centuries.

Bologna lion doorknocker
Lion motifs are popular in Bologna

The use of fierce animals and menacing figures had the added value of protecting the house from evil spirits.

Bologna ferocious doorknocker
A ferocious doorknocker.

From the 12th century, both bronze and cast iron were commonly used for the manufacture of doorknockers in Europe. The delightful Museo Davia Bargellini has some examples manufactured in Bologna from various centuries.

doorknockers Davia Bargelli
Bolognese doorknockers from the 16th-17th centuries.

From the Renaissance period, doorknockers started to assume a more artistic and decorative role with an elongated form. Later, with the introduction of electric door bells, the transformation to decoration was complete.

bologna doorknocker decorative
A whimsical Bolognese doorknocker.


Bologna doorknocker female figure
An ornate Bolognese doorknocker.

Animal figures became popular.

bologna cat doorknocker
A cat features in this example.
deer doorknocker bologna
A deer motif features on this one, perhaps from the 20th century.

Maritime themes were popular in cites such as Venice, but examples can be found also in Bologna.

Mermain doorknocker Bologna
Mermaids adorn this Bolognese door.

In 18th century Europe, there was an increased awareness of the artistic and architectural legacy of ancient Egypt, generated in part by Napoleon’s conquest of that country. For example, there are examples of Egyptian influenced tombs at the Certosa Cemetery discussed in a previous post ( The Certosa of Bologna ). This spread even to doorknockers.

 Egyptian influenced doorknocker.
An Egyptian influenced doorknocker.

Finally, whilst not doorknockers but door handles, you might come across this splendid art deco pair wandering around Bologna.

art deco door handles Bologna
Art Deco door handles, Bologna.

Over the years, I’ve collected a large number of photos of doorknockers in Bologna. On every visit I discover new ones.

This post will give you just a small taste of the variety that exists. Whilst you’re walking around the old city, keep your eye out – you never know what interesting piece of doorknocker history you’ll come across!

bologna doorknocker trad.jpg

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