The 15 best sights of Padua – description, photos, map

Padua

Padua (Italy) – the most detailed information about the city and its main attractions with photos and a map in the holiday and travel guide.

City of Padua (Italy)

Padua (Italian – Padova) – a city in the north-east of Italy in the Veneto region, located in the valley of the Po River, 20 km from the Venice Lagoon. Padua, one of the richest Italian cities, was one of the centers of the Renaissance, attracting famous artists and scholars, from the beginning of the 14th century. Padua is a stunning ancient city that combines sacred monuments, charming architecture, artistic treasures, majestic Renaissance squares and the prestigious university where the legendary Galileo Galilei once worked.

Padua is known in the Christian world as the burial place of one of the most revered saints, Anthony of Padua. A symbol of the city is the spacious Prato della Valle square, decorated with statues of the great inhabitants of the city. Padua is a great place to stop when traveling in northeastern Italy, as it is advantageously located near the tourist meccas of Venice and Verona.

Historic Center of Padua

Historic center of Padua

History of Padua

Padua’s founding dates back to between the thirteenth and eleventh centuries B.C. and is associated with the civilization of the ancient Greeks.

Records in fact show that Padua is one of the oldest cities in Northern Italy. Settlement here definitely existed since the twelfth century BC.

There is a legend that after the mythical Trojan War, one of the leaders of Troy, Antenor, fleeing from the Greeks, sailed down the Po and founded the village of Padus (from the Greek for marsh) on a swampy area.

During the Roman Empire, Padus, later called Patavium, became an ally of the Romans, and became rich thanks to its advantageous location at the crossroads of trade routes. Padua became one of the largest cities of the Empire.

In 601 Padua was destroyed to the ground by King Agilulfo, and then again in 800 by the Huns. After that the city was almost abandoned – the inhabitants scattered in the neighborhoods, many went to Venice.

Historic Center of Padua

Historic center of Padua

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area fell to the Lombards. They completely changed the social structure and introduced feudalism.

At the same time, Catholicism began to gain strength. Churches began to be built in the city, Padua began to revive and become rich. At the beginning of the 11th century, defensive structures, public and religious buildings were built in the city.

At the beginning of the 13th century, a university was founded in Padua. In the 14th century Padua became one of the cultural capitals of all Europe – Giotto worked here, Averroës and Avicenna taught here.

At the beginning of the 15th century Padua fell under the rule of the Venetian Republic. For almost two centuries the city became one of the cultural centers of the region.

After the Napoleonic wars, the city and the region fell under the influence of the Habsburgs and remained under them until the unification of Italy.

How to get to Padua

Padua is located almost in the center of the Veneto region between the cities of Treviso and Venice. If you get to Padua by plane, there are three options – airports in Venice, Rimini and Milan. The closest is Marco Polo airport in Venice.

Padua

Padua

If you go by train, all trains go to Padua on the routes Milan-Venice and Bologna. The schedule and ticket prices can be found on this website – www.trenitalia.it.

If you go by car, then from Milan and Venice is the A4, from the south of Italy – the A13 (Bologna).

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Tourist tax

As in many cities, Padua has a tourist tax, which may or may not be included in the price of accommodation (you need to clarify when booking). In 2016, the tourist tax is as follows:

  • four stars and above € 2.85
  • three stars € 1.90
  • two stars € 1.40
  • one star € 0.95

Public transport

Public transport in Padua includes buses, streetcars and cabs. Tickets can be purchased at numerous kiosks.

A bus in the streets of Padua

Bus in the streets of Padua

Lodging in Padua

Padua has hotels and guesthouses to suit all tastes and budgets. There are a great number of colorful hotels in and around the city. You are advised to book accommodation in the historic center or in the surrounding villages.

Panorama of Padua

Panorama of Padua

Cuisine

Cuisine of Padua is represented by old culinary traditions. Besides pizza, which is traditionally associated with Italy and can be found everywhere, we recommend you to try dishes with horsemeat, cheeses, bigoli, Paduan chicken, focaccio, false parsuto, sweets pazientini and zaleti. As for alcohol, local wines.

Bigoli

Bigoli

Attractions of Padua

As in most ancient cities, the main attractions of Padua are located in the historic center. This is especially characteristic of most Italian cities because they often developed around ancient Roman or medieval defensive walls.

Winter in Padua

Winter in Padua

Despite its fairly decent size, all the main attractions of Padua are within walking distance. Although, if necessary, you can take buses that will take you around all the sights. But we recommend walking, as the city is pleasant to walk around. There is not an abundance of tourists as in Rome, Venice, Verona, Milan, you can quietly enjoy the city and its interesting places. Also there are a lot of pedestrian zones.

Piazza Eremitani in Padua

Piazza Eremitani is an ancient square in Padua. Here is a large regional museum with interesting collections from the Roman, pre-Roman, Etruscan and early Christian periods. Valuable objects of art are also on display here. Among them stands out Giotto’s masterpiece, the Crucifixion.

Chapel of the Scevroeni

The Chapel of the Scevroeni

Another attraction of the square is the Chapel of the Scevrogni, built at the beginning of the 14th century and painted by the genius Giotto. The chapel has a simple and modest appearance, but hides stunning artistic treasures. Its interior was designed by the famous Giotto, who designed the bell tower in Florence.

Virtually every available wall space is filled with various religious images and vivid colors. Divided into several parts, the frescoes represent stories from the Bible, the life of Christ, and depict the vices and virtues of man.

Frescoes in the Chapel of the Treasure

Frescoes of the Chapel of the Holy Cross

There are also a 14th century church, palazzo Zuckerman and a museum of applied art.

Address: Piazza Eremitani, 35121 Padova PD

Piazza San Antonio and the Basilica of St. Anthony

The square in the historic center of Padua, adjacent to the main cathedral of the city, is called Piazza Sant’Antonio. The Basilica of St. Anthony is the main architectural dominant feature of the historic center, the largest cathedral in Padua and an important Christian shrine that houses the relics of the saint of the same name.

This huge basilica with its many domes is undoubtedly the highlight of Padua and one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The basilica was laid out in the 13th century and features a myriad of different architectural styles. The main facade has several arches, and on the side above the walls are 8 different domes along with a series of delightful towers.

St. Anthony Basilica

St Anthony’s Basilica

The Basilica has an impressive interior. Frescoes and works of art cover literally every inch of the church, along with various gold ornaments and marble sculptures. In addition, the chapels display beautiful works of art by Renaissance masters: Altichiero da Zevio, Giacopo d’Avanzo, Stefano da Ferrara and Girolamo Tessari.

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To the left of the basilica is Donatello’s masterpiece, a bronze equestrian monument dedicated to the Venetian general.

Interior of St. Antonius Basilica

The interior of St. Anthony’s Basilica

Address: Piazza del Santo, 35123 Padova PD

Cathedral

The cathedral (Duomo) was built in the early 12th century and has a simple brick facade. Of particular interest is the adjacent baptistery, which is decorated with a beautiful fresco.

Cathedral

Cathedral

Prato della Valle

Prato della Valle is the largest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe (almost 90,000 square meters). It is Padua’s main square, located in the southern part of the historic center.

Panorama of Prato della Valle

Panorama of Prato della Valle

The square got its unique shape at the end of the 18th century thanks to the Venetian Viceroy Memmo. It is a huge green island surrounded by a canal which is crossed by 4 bridges and in the center there is a fountain. Along the canal there are sculptures of famous people – scientists, artists, doctors, politicians who have lived, created and worked in Padua.

Prato della Valle - evening

Prato della Valle – evening

At the very edge of the square rises the Abbey of Santa Giustina, a magnificent example of Renaissance architecture built in the early 16th century. The impressive architectural structure with its 82 meter bell tower and its 12th century foundations dominate the architecture of the square. But it looks just as impressive on the inside!

Santa Giustina Abbey

Santa Giustina Abbey

Not far from the square there is an ancient botanical garden with over 6,000 plants. On the southeast side of the piazza is the ancient 16th century basilica.

Address: Piazza Prato della Valle, 35121 Padova PD

Specola

Specola is the old astronomical observatory, one of the symbols of Padua. Here you can find the astronomic museum and from the top you have a wonderful view over the city. The great Galileo Galilei once conducted research here.

Specola

Specola

Nearby there is also the Oratorio di San Michele, closely linked to the last years of the famous Petrarch’s life, as well as the 13th century Carraresi castle.

From Specola you can easily reach the city center, looking at the church of San Tommaso, the piazza Duomo and the magnificent baptistery, painted with beautiful frescoes.

The heart of Padua – Piazza della Ragione, della Erbe, della Frutti and Piazza dei Signori

Piazza della Ragione is Padua’s second most important square. Here is the most beautiful Palazzo della Ragione or Salone (great hall), one of the symbols of the city. Palazzo Ragione is a huge town hall built between 1172 and 1219. The building is said to have the largest unsupported roof in Europe. The palazzo is the embodiment of Padua’s past power and influence.

Palazzo della Ragione

Palazzo della Ragione

On the southwest corner of the piazza is a 15th-century tower with an astronomical clock.

Piazza della Erbe

Piazza della Erbe

Piazza della Ragione, della Erbe and della Frutti are the heart of the medieval city and also the site of the daily market.

Piazza dei Signori

Piazza dei Signori

Piazza dei Signori is one of the main squares in the historic part of Padua, which was founded in the 14th century and has been the center of city life throughout its history. At one end of the square is the ancient Church of St. Clement, and at the other end is the magnificent 15th-century Gothic Clock Tower.

University of Padua

The University of Padua is one of the oldest universities in Europe, founded in the first half of the 13th century. Galileo, Copernicus, Harvey and many others taught and conducted research here.

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University of Padua and Café Pedrocchi

University of Padua and Pedrocchi Café

A few steps away you can find the historic Café Pedrocchi, which has been open since 1830.

Address: Via 8 Febbraio 1848, 2, 35122 Padova PD

What else to see in Padua

The Bridge of St. Lorenzo is a 53 m long stone bridge.

St. Lorenzo Bridge

Bridge of St. Lorenzo

The Obelisk of Antenor, the legendary founder of Padua.

Obelisk of Antenor

Obelisk of Antenor

The historic gates of San Giovanni and Molino.

San Giovanni Gate

San Giovanni Gate

Porta Molino

Porta Molino

The Church of San Nicolo is one of the most romantic places of Padua. The 16th century church is located in an ancient medieval square.

Church of San Nicolo

San Nicolo Church

15 major attractions in Padua

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Padua (Padova) is a commune located in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. It has a rich history and has been an important city since the Middle Ages.

Padua is located on the Bacchiglione River, approximately 40 kilometers west of Venice. The city currently has a population of 214,000. The city is extremely beautiful and Padua has many curious architectural structures and bridges. It is also home to the important University of Padua, where the legendary Galileo once taught.

Archives tell us that Padua is one of the oldest cities in the country: it began to be inhabited from 1183 BC. In subsequent years, the city was occupied by different tribes. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Padua gained great importance, and its university was known throughout Italy.

St. Anthony’s Cathedral

Basilica of St. Anthony

St. Anthony’s Cathedral | Photo: denvilles_duo / Flickr.

The largest church, a place of burial and veneration of St. Anthony of Padua (1193-1231), was built in 1232. The structure includes rising domes that rise above Gothic brickwork with Renaissance relics.

Behind the main altar are nine ray-shaped chapels emphasizing the wide ambulatory with the Cappella delle Reliquie, which houses the relics of St. Anthony.

You will also notice that dozens of people are clustered along the left transept, waiting their turn to enter the Cappella del Santo and lay their petitions at the saint’s tomb, expressing gratitude for his intercession in curing illness and returning lost objects.

The chapel itself is a light-filled Renaissance structure decorated with nine panels that vividly depict the story of Antony’s life in the form of unusual relief sculptures. The panels belong to the Lombardo brothers, born in Padua, and were created around 1510.

Through the southern door of the basilica you enter the monastery with its five remarkably peaceful cloisters. The oldest (13th century) is the Chiostro della Magnolia, so called because of the magnificent tree in the center.

Address: Basilica di Sant’Antonio di Padova, Piazza del Santo, Padua, Italy.

Piazza dei Signori

Piazza dei Signori

Piazza dei Signori. | Photo: Marco Zanferrari / Flickr.

One of the main squares in the historic district of Padua, Piazza dei Signori is one of the central places to visit in the city, where city festivals and tournaments are traditionally held.

Created in the 14th century, the square was built around the famous clock tower and complemented by Medieval and Renaissance decor.

At one end of the square is the Church of San Clemente and at the other end is the Torre Dell’Orologio (Clock Tower). In the square there are beautiful houses, restaurants, stores and cafes, as well as the beautiful Marcian column.

There are regular market fairs and events in this square, so you will have something to see in Padua and you will be able to experience real Italian culture and local life.

Address: Piazza dei Signori, Piazza dei Signori, Padua, Italy.

Padua Cathedral

Padua Cathedral

Cathedral of Padua.

Built to a very old design by Michelangelo, the cathedral has an industrial style facade. When visiting the cathedral, note the modern altarpiece and sculptures by Giuliano Vangi, and then be sure to see the 13th-century baptistery, a true Romanesque gem decorated with vivid frescoes of biblical scenes by Giusto de Menabuoi.

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Address: Duomo Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Via Dietro Duomo, Padua, Italy.

Cappella degli Scroveni

Cappella di Scrovegna

Chapel of the Scroveni.

Padua’s version of the Sistine Chapel, Cappella degli Scrovegni, houses one of Italy’s greatest Renaissance masterpieces, Giotto’s striking cycle of frescoes. Dante, da Vinci, and Vasari revered Giotto as an artist.

This depiction of biblical figures was particularly well suited to the chapel of Enrico Scrovegna, commissioned in memory of his father (who was denied a Christian burial because of his work as a moneylender).

On the outside, it is a simple brick building with little indication of what is inside. It took Giotto two years to complete the frescoes that tell the story of Christ from the Annunciation to the Ascension.

The chapel of the Scrovegna was once adjacent to the family mansion (demolished in 1824) – the city of Padua acquired the chapel in 1881.

Address: Cappella degli Scrovegni, Piazza Eremitani, Padua, Italy.

Prato della Valle

Prato della Valle

Prato della Valle.

This ellipse-shaped garden square on the southern edge of the historic center has long been used as a public playground. Today it is a popular spot for locals who want to bask in the summer rays and students preparing for exams.

Framing the space is a narrow canal decorated with 78 statues of prominent Padua residents and ten empty pedestals. The ten empty pedestals contained statues of the Doge of Venice, but Napoleon had them smashed after taking Venice in 1797.

Address: Prato della Valle, Padua, Italy.

Musei Civici agli Eremitani

Musei Civici agli Eremitani

Musei Civici agli Eremitani.

On the first floor of this monastery are artifacts from Padua’s Roman and pre-Roman past, including fine glass, Roman surgical instruments and Etruscan bronze figures.

Upstairs is an interesting collection that boasts several famous works by Bellini, Giorgione, Tintoretto and Veronese dating from the 14th and 18th centuries.

Among the interesting items for visitors are a large Brussels tapestry and an 18th-century painting by Giorgio Fossati, which depicts Prato della Valle when it was still a sports ground.

Address: Musei Civici Eremitani, Piazza Eremitani, Padua, Italy.

Palazzo Della Ragione

Palazzo Della Ragione

Palazzo Della Ragione.

The center of Padua is an elegant double square divided by the three-story Gothic palazzo della Ragione, which is a city courthouse dating back to 1218.

Inside Il Salone (the Great Hall) are frescoes by Acolita Giotto Giusto de Menabuoi and Nicolo Miretto that depict the astrological theories of Padua professor Pietro d’Abano with the months, seasons, saints, animals and notable townsfolk.

At the western end of the hall is a huge wooden horse modeled after Donatello Gattamelata’s majestic bronze sculpture, which still stands in Piazza del Santo. At the other end of the hall is a modern version of the Foucault pendulum.

The address is Palazzo della Ragione, Piazza delle Erbe, Padua, Italy.

Botanical Garden of Padua.

Botanical Garden of Padua

Botanical Garden of Padua.| Photo: xiquinhosilva / Flickr.

The Botanical Garden of Padua was founded in 1545 by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Padua to study the medicinal properties of rare plants. The botanical garden served as the headquarters of the secret meeting of the Resistance during World War II.

The oldest tree, nicknamed Goethe’s Palm, was planted in 1585 and was mentioned by the great German writer in his Italian Journey.

A recent addition is the high-tech Biodiversity Garden, five interconnected greenhouses that recreate different climatic zones and talk about botanical and ecological topics through multimedia displays.

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Address: Università degli Studi di Padova, Orto Botanico, Via Orto Botanico, Padua, Italy.

Museum of Risorgimento and Modern Age

Museum of Risorgimento and Modern Age

Museum of Risorgimento and Modern Age.

On the first floor of the Museum of the Risorgimento and Modern Age, decorated in different styles (from ancient Egyptian to imperial), is the museum that tells the local and national history from the fall of Venice in 1797 to the adoption of the Italian Constitution of January 1, 1848 through original documents, images and memorabilia.

Address: Museo del Risorgimento, Piazzetta Cappellato Pedrocchi, Padua, Italy.

Zuckermann Palace

Palazzo Zuckermann

Zuckermann Palace.

The first and second floors of the Zuckermann Palace, built at the beginning of the 20th century, house the Museum of Decorative Art.

The collection of arts and crafts covers several centuries: you will see a variety of cutlery, furniture, clothing and jewelry.

On the 2nd floor is the Bottacina Museum – a treasure trove of perfectly preserved historical coins and medals are kept here along with a modest collection of 19th-century paintings and sculptures.

The address is Palazzo Zuckermann, Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, Padua, Italy.

Palazzo del Bò

Palazzo del Bò

Palazzo del Bò. | Photo: Alex / Flickr.

This Renaissance palazzo is part of the University of Padua. The university attracted some of Italy’s greatest and most controversial thinkers. Copernicus, Galileo, Casanova, and the world’s first woman doctor of philosophy, Eleonora Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (her statue adorns the staircase) worked here.

Admission only with a 45-minute guided tour, which includes a visit to the world’s first anatomical theater.

Address: Palazzo Bo, Via VIII Febbraio, Padua, Italy.

Church of the Eremitani

Church of the Eremitani

Church of the Eremitani.| Photo: dvdbramhall / Flickr.

Destroyed in World War II, the 13th-century church is home to fragments of Mantegna’s famous frescoes.

When the 1944 bombing destroyed Andrea Mantegna’s extraordinary 1448-1557 frescoes, the loss to art history was irreplaceable. After half a century of painstaking reconstruction, the destroyed and moisture-damaged frescoes depicting St. James and St. Christopher have been restored.

Address: Church of the Eremitani, Piazza Eremitani, Padua, Italy.

Statue of Gattamelata

Statue of Gattamelata

Statue of the Gattamelata. | Photo: dvdbramhall / Flickr.

Located in Piazza del Santo, Donatello’s majestic bronze equestrian statue dates back to 1453. On horseback is Erasmo da Narni (nicknamed Gattamelata), a Renaissance mercenary who served the Venetian Republic.

Address: Monumento al Gattamelata, Piazza del Santo, Padua, Italy.

Brenta Canal

Canal of Brenta

Brenta Canal.

The Brenta Canal stretches for many kilometers from Chioggia on the coast to Padua, where it returns to the Brenta River. Created in the 15th century, the canal was intended to expand the trade routes and opportunities of Venice and the major cities of Northern Italy.

You can take a boat trip from Padua to Venice and vice versa on this impressive waterway. Along the way you will see many beautiful houses, majestic palaces and villas, such as Villa Foscari and Villa Pisani.

In addition, the natural scenery is really amazing and when you get out in Venice, you will see a strange little village scattered along the banks of the canal.

GPS coordinates: 45°26’13.7″N 11°55’26.6″E.

Canals and Rivers of Padua

Canals and Rivers of Padua

Padua’s canals and rivers.| Photo: Dave Collier / Flickr.

In addition to the Brenta Canal, Padua also has several central canals and rivers that provide fantastic walking opportunities and are a great way to explore the city. Starting in Via Goito, you can follow the path along the river and admire the beautiful water scenery until you reach the Museo dell Astronomico.

From here you can continue along the Riviera Tiso da Camposampiero to the city center or walk along the river in a northern direction to the Arena Giardini. During the walk you can observe many beautiful buildings and see the fantastic natural landscape that the river creates.

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