In northern Italy there is a city and commune in Veneto that is the capital of the province of Padua, and it’s named Padua. The city is the communication and economic hub of the area ad it is sometimes included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, which has a population that reaches 1,600,000 inhabitants.
The city is located west of Venice and southeast of Vincenza and it stands proudly on the Bacchiglione River. In earlier times the Brenta River ran through the city and even today it reaches the northern districts of the city. Padua has an agricultural setting named Pianura Verde or Venetian Plain.
The city is home to the famous University of Padua which is renowned for its 820 years old history and its famous lecturers such as Galileo Galilei.
Padua displays a picturesque landscape with its large communal piazza and the big network of arcaded streets which open into it and the city also has several bridges that are used to cross the branches of Bacchiglione. This was used once to surround the ancient walls of the city with a purpose very alike a moat.
Many might have heard of the city and recognise it from Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew”.
There are many locations that beckon your attention in Padua, one of which is the Scrovegni Chapel, one of its most famous and remarkable chapel. This is where you can see a cycle of frescoes done by Giotto and completed in 1305, which were commissioned by Enrico degli Scrovegni. Enrico was once a wealthy banker who desired to have a private chapel attached to his palazzo, and so he ordered for the Scrovegni Chapel to be built. The location of the chapel is on the site of an arena from Roman times and as a result it is often referred to as the Arena Chapel. The famous fresco cycle tells the tale of the Virgin Mary and her life. It is considered to be one of the most important in the world. It also has the worlds earliest kiss scene representations in the history of art.
Another well-known location in Padua is the Palazzo della Ragione which is well known to have the largest roof in Europe that is not supported by columns. It has a great, nearly rectangular hall on the upper floor and the walls are covered with allegorical frescoes. The upper floor is encircled by an open loggia and the building itself stands on arches. The structure is dated back in 1172 when it started to be built and it finished in 1219. Originally there were three roofs but later, in 1306, the structure was covered with one roof by an Augustinian friar named Fra Giovanni. In 1420 there was a fire that greatly damaged the palazzo and when it was being restored, the Venetian architects united the three chambers that were before and formed the great hall known as the Salone. After this the walls were frescoed again all the way from 1425 to 1440 by Nicolo’ Miretto.
Other greatly admired constructions are the Gran Guadia loggia in the Piazza dei Signori, and which was built starting from 1493 to 1526 and near it the Palazzo del Capitaniato can be found which has a grand door, work of Giovanni Maria Falconetto. In the vicinity there is the Cathedral that contains works of Nicolo Semitecolo, Giogio Schiavone and Francesco Bassano.
Another famous location is the Basilica di Sant’Antonio da Padova there the bones of the saint rest in a chapel which is the work of various artist such as Sansovino and Falconetto and which is adorned with carved marble. The building is said to be designed by Nicola Pisano and it is covered with a total of seven cupolas of which two are pyramidal and also has four lovely cloisters that can be visited.
Padua is also the home of the equestrian statue of the general Gattamelata which was done by Donatello and that stands proudly in the piazza, just in front of the Basilica di sant’Antonio da Padova.
Other such wonderful sights to see are just nearby at the St. George Oratory and the Scuola di S. Antonio. Both of which has frescoes by famous artists such as Altichiero and Tiziano.
The Pirato della Valle square is one of the most famous location that is representative of Padua. The square is one of the largest in Europe and in the centre of the square there is a broad garden enclosed by a ditch. Bordering this are 78 statues that depict famous citizens of Padua. The square was created by Andrea Memmo which once resided in the Palazzo Angeli. The palazzo was constructed in the 15th century and now it shelters the Museum of Precinema.
There are also constructions such as the Abbey of Santa Giustina which houses several saints’ tombs which attracts attention to the history of the city, also the Church of the Eremitani is quite well known although it was largely destroyed by the Allies in World War II, and probably the oldest church in Padua is Saint Sofia, apparently built before the 12th century. There is also the church designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi named the Church of San Gaetano which has an unusual octagonal plan and which is home to Madonna and Child that is created in Nanto stone by Andrea Brisco.
In the city you can also find the Padua Synagogue and at the centre of the historical city there are the buildings of Palazzo del Bo.
The City Hall has rather unique wall decorations. The names of the Paduan people which died in various wars across Italy are written on the wall that attaches to the Palazzo della Ragione.
The centre of Padua is enclosed by city walls built in the 16th century, now only several ruins, it still has two gates and the castle Castello with its main tower. The tower was used as an astronomical observatory during the 1967 and 1777 known under the name of Specola.
In the vicinity of Padua, several noble villas can be found, such as Villa Pacchierotii Trieste and Villa Loredan.
There are many other sights to see and to experience and it will take you a long time before you can truly part of these wonders. So don’t hesitate and move to Padua so you can take all the time you’d like to enjoy the city and its history along with its wonderful people. If you’re hesitating because moving is an annoying job, don’t, because we can help you there.
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Photographer : Stefan Bauer