Discovering Padova

Padova (http://www.unipd.it/en/discovering-padova-0) is one of the 
most charming and dynamic cities in Italy, a fascinating mix of 
historic and new, of centuries-old traditions combined with 
metropolitan rhythms creates a unique atmosphere.

Probably better known as the city of St. Anthony or as the 
economic capital of Veneto, Padova is one of the most important 
Art Cities in Italy: there are very important monuments, 
especially those realized between the 13th century and 
the 15th century, the most extraordinary economic and 
cultural period, that left an indelible mark on the town: 
the Medioeval City Walls, the great civil and religious buildings, 
the University, the wonderful frescoe-cycles realized by Giotto 
and his followers, and later the works by Andrea Mantegna and Donatello.

The Scrovegni Chapel holds entirely preserved the most complete cycle
 of frescoes produced by Giotto (1303-1305), one of the greatest 
monuments of figurative art of all time. Not far away, 
separating Piazza delle Erbe from Piazza della Frutta, 
stands Palazzo della Ragione, commonly called Il Salone, 
a building of 1218, rebuilt in 1306 by Fra’ Giovanni degli Eremitani. 
A busy market occupies daily the ground floor and the adjoining Piazze. 
The upper floor is one vast hall (81 mt long, 27 mt wide and 27 mt large). 
On the walls is an interesting cycle of frescoes of religious 
and astrological subjects (1425-1440).

Bo Palace is the ancient university seat. This large group of buildings
was erected between 1542 and 1601, with modern addictions from 1920-1940. 
The University of Padova, which was established in 1222, is one of the 
oldest in the world (the second in Italy after Bologna University) 
and keeps several places of great historical value. Particularly interesting 
are the Old Courtyard (mid16th century), by Andrea Moroni, the Room of 
the Forty with Galilei’s chair, (he taught in Padova from 1592 to 1610), 
the Aula Magna, rich with coats of arms and decorations, 
the famous Anatomy Theatre by G. Fabrici d’Acquapendente, 
the oldest in the world (1594).

Opposite the University is the Caffe Pedrocchi, a complex building 
in neo-classic style with a flourish ornate Gothic, designed 
by the architect G. Jappelli in 1831. Its upper floor has rooms 
decorated in various styles. Famous meeting place for scholars, 
it was the scene of student uprising in 1848.

A short walk leads to St. Anthony Basilica. Started immediately after
the death of the Santo (1231) and completed at the beginning of 
the following century, it is an imposing construction in Romanesque 
Gothic style, with eight domes and spires of eastern inspiration. 
It holds the body of St. Anthony and is the object of pilgrimages 
from all over the world. Among the numberless works of art it keeps, 
one must point out the frescoes by Altichiero and Giusto de’ Menabuoi 
(end of the 14th century). The Crucifix, the statues and the bronze 
reliefs of the High Altar, superlative works by Donatello (1444-1448); 
the Altar of the Saint and the Treasure Chapel.

Padova is also an ideal place to trace the history of man’s progress 
and achievements in the field of science, technique and creativity. 
As said, in its ancient and glorious University fundamental contributions 
to the progress of science and technology have been made thanks 
to the presence of enlightened and ingenious personalities.

The botanic garden is another scientific treasure. 
It was founded in 1545 by Padova University for the study of the ‘simples’,
i.e. medical plants. It is the oldest university botanical garden 
in the world, which has never moved from its original settlement. 
It keeps about 6000 plants: exotic, medicinal, poisonous and insectivorous. 
The oldest tree here is a Palm planted in 1585 and known as Goethe’s palm, 
having supposedly played a role in the German writer’s work on 
the Metamorphosis of the plants. Since 1997 the garden is part of 
the Unesco World Cultural Heritage.

Another scientific monument belonging to Padova University is the 
astronomic observatory, called La Specola. It was built in the 
18th century on a tower belonging to Padova medieval castle 
to test the astronomic theories elaborated at the University. 
Today it houses the University Astronomy Department and a museum, 
where various scientific instruments coming from 
different countries are displayed.