Padua is the capital of the province of the same name in the region of Veneto in the north of Italy. Though often seen as Venice’s little sister, it has enough tourist attractions to keep visitors entertained for several days.
Padua city guide
Padua Tourist information
There are two tourist information offices in Padua. One is located in the atrium of the railway station and the other one in the Vicolo Pedrocchi. Phone: +39 049 5207415. There is a useful museum and public transport pass called PadovaCard. The Italian name of the city is Padova.
Padua is located not far from the lagoons on the Adriatic Sea. The river Bacchiglione runs through its centre and feeds several canals. The most important and picturesque canal is called the Piovego. During the summer months it is possible to visit the canals by means of small boats.
The first walls around the city were constructed by the Romans, but at various times during the middle ages more were added.
The city’s university is the second oldest one (after Bologna) of the country and a tourist attraction in itself. Highlights are the Anatomical Theatre in the Palazzo Bo and the 20th century Palazzo Liviano. Its Botanical Garden was founded in 1545. Its astronomical observatory is called Specola.
The second important landmark in Padua is the Basilica di Sant’Antonio di Padova, simply called Basilica del Santo by the locals. A highlight in this church is Donatello’s high altar. Donatello was also responsible for the Gattamelata statue in the Piazza del Santo. The San Giorgio Oratorium and the Scoletta del Santo are other sights facing this square.
In the area around the Duomo (“Cathedral”) other religious buildings such as the Baptistery and the Palazzo Vescovile can be seen.
The San Gaetano Church has many works of art by local masters.
Padua’s main square is the Prato della Valle, which is the biggest square of the country. The center of the square is an island called the Isola Memmia, which is surrounded by a number of canals. One side of the square is taken up by the enormous Santa Giustina Abbey, with its eight domes.
Other interesting squares are the Piazza delle Erbe, the Piazza della Frutta and the Piazza dei Signori.
The old town is characterized by long, low porticoes, which, if laid end to end, would have a length of around 12km.
Giotto’s 38 frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel and the Ovetari Chapel in the Eremitani Church, which was decorated by Mantegna, are considered highlights.
In the 15th century Padua became an important Renaissance centre in northern Italy.
The Palace of Reason (thirteenth century) is one of the most famous buildings.
The interior of the Scoletta next to the Basilica del Carmine is completely frescoed.
Shopping and Entertainment
The Caffè Pedrocchi is a famous meeting place. It is now the seat of the Museo del Risorgimento.
The more trendy shops with antiques and vintage clothing are found in the alleys of the Ghetto, together with small osterie and more refined restaurants. In the University district and the area around the Santo there are many bookstores, both modern and antique.
During the summer months, the youth and student entertainment expands to include the Prato della Valle.
Of particular importance is the trade fair complex (Fiera di Padua).