Padua in Italy is like a beautiful casket that holds some of the most precious artistic gems of time. Padua is located in northern Italy in the Veneto region. It takes less than 30 minutes to reach Padua from Venice. The origins of the city date back to more than 2000 years in time. The ancient urban structure of the city can still be seen in the form of gated roads that lead through the city. Padua is often overlooked by the tourists but that is the beauty of the place as it allows you to explore the wonderful city in less crowd.
Padua is also very famous because of its prestigious university since 1222, Italy’s 2nd oldest university, which is considered as one of the most importance centers of learning in Europe for sciences and literature. The streets of the university city stay alive with the students who roam around, eat and drink after their lessons. The city has many busy piazzas, restaurants, cafes and bars where you can taste the local famous Spritz. The city is also famous because of its religious aspect and the amazing religious structures. It is also known that Saint Anthony spent part of his life in Padua.
History of Padua Italy
The archeological remains of the city confirm that Padua was formed between the 11th and 10th centuries BC. It is believed that Padua was formed by the Trojan prince called Antenor in 1183 BC. By the 5th century BC, Padua rose to become popular near the bank of Brenta River to rise as one of the principle centers of Veneti. The Roman historians say that the Spartans tried to invade Padua but failed miserably and never returned back. Padua also survived many other invasions and fought back bravely.
Gradually Padua became a part of the Roman Republic and also got famous for its excellent horse breeds. Padua also earned great reputation for its excellent quality of sheep wool. The city was also one of the wealthiest cities in Italy. The people of Padua were praised and respected because of their discipline and moral values.
14 Interesting Things to do in Padua Italy
Basilica di San Antonio
The Basilica di San Antonio is the Padua’s most respected and visited religious site. This cathedral houses the tomb of Saint Anthony who lived and worked here. The saint is buried at the cappella del Santo which is visited by lots of pilgrims. The architecture of the building is very interesting as it is a mix of different styles i.e. Romanesque, Gothic, and Byzantine. The construction started in 1232 after one year of the death of Saint Anthony. The building was completed in 1310 but went through many renovations during the Renaissance.
This huge and multi-domed basilica is now of the main highlights of the city located in the center of the historic old town. The main doorway at the front is framed by many archways and complex details. 8 different domes look wonderful above the walls with a series of towers. The interior looks wonderful with many marble sculptures, artworks and gold trimmings. There are several chapels in the cathedral decorated with a lot of artwork. There is a beautiful treasury chapel behind the high alter that has the relics of Saint Anthony.
Piazza dei Signori of Padua Italy
Piazza dei Signori is one of the main squares in the Padua city. This piazza is famous for historic celebrations and tournaments and still the favorite place for central gatherings in the city. Piazza dei Signori was built around the famous clock tower in 14th century. The square is full of Renaissance and Medieval details. Events and seasonal markets are regularly hosted at this place where you can visit and enjoy the authentic Italian culture. There are many restaurants, cafes and shops at the square.
Padua Duomo in Italy
Padua Duomo is the main church of the city although the Basilica di San Antonio is more famous. Padua Duomo also has a very attractive exterior and a magnificent interior. The cathedral was constructed in 1117 but was destroyed by an earthquake. After renovations the interior of the church looks marvelous because of its blue and red patterned marble floor with lots of arches and columns and the beautiful whitewashed walls. The Baptistery of Padua features a highly detailed fresco, which is painted by Giusto de Menabuoi. This fresco covers the whole wall and the ceiling as well.
Giardini dell’Arena is a beautiful garden situated in the northern part of the city’s old town. It is a great place to relax or to picnic. The park is decorated with many beautiful flowers, trees and plants. This is a nice place to walk and there are many pleasant walking trails along the banks of the northern canal.
Cappella degli Scrovegni
Capella degli Scrovegni is located inside the Giardini dell’Arena and is famous for its wonderfully decorated interior. The church was created between 1303 to 1305 and there is a lot of hard work done on the interiors. There is colorful religious depiction on every inch of the walls by Giotto. The exterior of the church is not as attractive as compared to the Interior. A superb sculpture of Madonna with two angels, designed by Giovanni Pisano is situated at the altar. If you want to visit this church, you have to make an advance reservation because the management of the church wants to preserve the interior decorations as much as possible.
Musei Civici is also located inside the Giardini dell’Arena and consists of two museums and a fantastic cappella degli Scrovegini. The museums have one of the finest examples of Venetian art in Italy between 12th and 19th centuries. There are some amazing paintings by famous Renaissance artists including Titia, Bellini, Veronese and Giotto. The museums also have a wide collection of historical artifacts which belong to different eras.
The museums have archaeological collections from the 8th century BC. The museum also exhibits the artifacts from Etruscan, Greek, Italy and Egypt.
Palazzo della Ragione
Palazzo della Ragione is a famous landmark of the Padua city in Italy. This is a symbol of the power and influence of Padua in the past. This huge town hall has the largest unsupported roof in Europe. The town hall was constructed between 1172 to 1219 and has been used for many ceremonial functions as well as legal courts. The interiors are very well decorated with colorful frescos.
Orto Botanico is also known as the world’s oldest existing botanical garden which was originally created for research on herbal medicine. This garden was created in 1545 as a learning center for the university students. The garden has a great variety of herbs, trees and interesting plants. There are modern day greenhouses at one corner of the garden which have an interesting variety of plants. At the other corner of the garden, there is a nursery garden.
In short this is a great place to come, admire and learn about the plants and to witness the one and only historical botanical garden in the world. The elegant geometrical designs of the plant beds are actually the original designs from 1545.
Prato della Valle
Prato della Valle is the favorite gathering spot for the locals in Padua and is the largest square in Italy. This 90,000 square meter landmark is one of the largest squares in Europe. Locals call it as “il Prato”. This area is known to be the favorite spot of Saint Anthony for his preaching sermons. The square hosts a variety of markets, stalls and festivals. Prato della Valle is surrounded by a canal which is also decorated with 90 statues of the famous figures from the history of Padua city. The central section of the square is connected through 4 bridges that pass above the water canal.
Local love the design and atmosphere of this square. The oval shaped area is a great place to admire the architecture and to relax in the lawns. The place gets busy in summer and lots of people gather here for sunbathing.
Palazzo del Bo and Anatomical Theater
Palzzao del Bo and Anatomical Theater are associated with the university of Padua. The university has always been a big landmark in the city. Italy’s 2nd oldest university was founded in 1222 in the Palazzo del Bo. The university had some of the world’s most famous teachers like Galileo, Copernicus and Eleonora Lucrezia who was the world’s first female Doctor of Philosophy. The entrance hall, the arcades and many classrooms are decorated with paintings, reliefs and coats of arms.
The Anatomical Theater here, is the oldest permanent structure for anatomy studies in the world. It was built in 1594 and is still very well preserved. Ideal way to explore the whole area including the Anatomical Theater is by taking a guided tour which is for 45 minutes.
Caffé Pedrocchi of Padua Italy
Mentioning Caffe Pedorcchi is very important during the visit to Padua Italy. This café has a historical importance and is considered as a famous landmark of the city. This café was the major gathering point of the patriots during the riots of 1848 against the Habsburg monarchy. A university student was injured inside the café on 8th February 1848 which led to the uprisings.
Besides its importance as a patriotic uprising place, the café was also very famous among the intellectuals, writers and artists.
Brenta Canal of Padua Italy
Brenta Canal was created in 15th century to increase the trading between Venice and other major cities of Northern Italy. You can take a boat trip from Padua to Venice from here. The boat tour gives you a glimpse of beautiful Padua houses and villas. The area near the Brenta Canal was favorite for the wealthy Venetians to build their villas. The two villas “Villa Pisani” and “Villa Widmann-Foscaro-Rezzonico” are very famous among visitors.
Padua has many other beautiful small canals and amazing walking tracks along them. You can choose from a variety of paths and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the city while joy walking.
Palazzo Zuckerman of Padua Italy
Palazzo Zuckerman is also a famous museum that has two large floors. The first floor has a huge collection of pottery, ceramics, jewelry, silverware, textiles, furniture and ivory collected from Padua and its surrounded region. The second floor is dedicated to a merchant called Nicola Bottacin, who had a big collection of artwork, coins and weapons. This place is ideal to learn about the lifestyle of old civilization of Padua city.
Ponte Molino of Padua Italy
Ponte Molino is one of the most beautiful bridges of Italy. This is a wonderful Roman segmental arch bridge in Padua across the Bacchiglione. The views of the surroundings are mesmerizing from this bridge. This is a great place for photographers and people who love a calm walk.
You can also read about Ponte Vinaachio in Florence Italy Article.
Read more about the best places to visit in Italy.