The Castello Carrarese is one of the most important tourist attractions of Padua. In the course of its history it has been used for a number of different purposes. From the 18th century onward, it came generally to be referred to as the “Old Castle” (Castel Vecchio).
Castello Carrarese Padua
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Piazza Castello, 12 – Padua. Telephone: +39 0498205611.
History and description
The area the Carrarese Castle stands on was first occupied by another castle, built by Ezzelino III da Romano. At the time it was the most important defensive part of the city walls.
Ezzelino III da Romano was a feudal lord who reigned Padua from 1237 to 1256. He was an ally of Emperor Frederik II, and was know as an extremely cruel tyrant. Apart from Padua, he also ruled over Verona and Vicenza.
The largest of the two towers of the original castle was called the Torlonga.
After the end of Ezzelino‘s reign, the castle was abandoned. This period of decay lasted till the 14th century, when the Carraresi family had the present fortifications constructed.
The Carraresi had the two formerly checkered towers painted red and white. This can be seen on a fresco by Giusto de’ Menabuoi in the Sant’Antonio Basilica. Recent restoration work has brought to light traces of these colors in the Specola on top of the castle.
There used to be an elevated passage between the castle and the Reggia Carrarese, the residential complex the family had built within the city walls.
After the Renaissance walls were built and the protracted period of peace under Venetian rule, the castle became less strategically important. The Republic also toyed with the idea of building a “New Castle” (Castelnuovo), but of this project there is not much left.
Several references proving that it was the Carraresi who built the 14th century version of the castle have been found. One of the stones in a well found in 1810 in the large courtyard has an inscription mentioning one of the Carraresi, princes of Padua, as the builder of the palace. In 1990 a floral decoration with the initials FC, for Francesco da Carrara, was found underneath some plaster in one of the rooms.
Until after world war II the castle served as a prison. Later, it became an astronomical observatory (Specola).