In prehistoric times, Celts and Ligurians already lived along the rivers. Tools and jewelry from the Iron Age were found on the hill of the Parco della Burcina. Fishing, hunting and sheep farming were the sources of food and income in pre-Christian times. Gold deposits in the Elvo River attracted gold washers in the Bessa, the plain of Biella, as early as the Roman era.
In 826, Biella, then called Bugella, was donated by the Emperor Ludwig the Pious, ruler of the Roman Empire and son of Charlemagne, Count Busone. In the 10th century, Alemanni, Lombards and Franks populated the area and built city walls to protect themselves from the barbarians. The city grew around the then church of Santo Stefano within the city walls. The baptistery was built during this time. The bell tower of the Santo Stefano church has been preserved.
The medieval residential area forms the heart of Biella. Cistern square and the church of San Giacomo from the 12th century are typical buildings from the Middle Ages. Numerous stairs and a cable car lead to the upper town. Already in the 13th century, the college of weavers and wool traders was mentioned in Biellas statutes. This tradition makes Biella a leading center for wool spinning and knitting and weaving. The fine fabrics from Biella are still sought after worldwide.
In 1859, Garibaldi freed Biella from the siege of Austrian troops; After the Rattazzi decree, it became the capital of the district of the same name in the province of Novara. It became part of the Province of Vercelli in 1927 and finally an autonomous province in 1992.
In October 2019, Biella was honored as a UNESCO Creative City.