Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral Padua
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Piazza Duomo, Padua. Phone: (+39) 049 662814. Bus: 8, 12, 18, 32. Opening hours: Weekdays from 07.30 till 12.00 and from 15.45 till 19.30; Sundays and holidays from 07.45 till 13.00 and from 15.45 till 20.30. Admission: Free.
The present Cathedral was built on a location that had previously also been used for other churches. The earliest one of these was an early Christian cathedral, the exact location of which was probably on the present church square.
Consecration of a new version took place in 1075, but in 1117 an earthquake caused major damage to this church.
Originally the area in front of the present church was used as a pig market. In the 14th century it became church property. From then on this area was used as a cemetery.
The present version was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Although the original project was Michelango‘s, the actual construction was carried out by the architects Andrea da Valle and Agostino Righetti. Michelangelo had won a competition for the right to build the cathedral. The two architects made several changes to his original project.
Girolamo Frigimelica, a Venetian architect, finished (most of) the construction in 1754. His brick facade, with three portals and two rose windows, was never completed, however.
In the 19th century the square in front of the church was paved.
Both the facade and the dome were severely damaged during bombings in World War I.
In the 14th century law students took their exams in the sacristy, while students of other faculties did this in the church itself. The building with the university coat of arms of three ox heads on the door in the square is where the degrees were conferred.
The interior has the shape of a Latin cross. Above the point where nave and transept meet there is a round cupola. A second, elliptical dome can be seen above the central nave. The three naves are separated by pillars. From the originally named Via Dietro Duomo (“Behind the Church-Street”) you can see the three apses of these naves, the bell tower and the dome. The presbytery is right above the crypt and is slightly higher than the rest of the interior.
Stefano dall’Arzere painted the “Madonna and Child” in the first chapel on the left (15th century). The altarpiece “Holy Trinity, Saint and Bishop” is by Antonio Buttafogo (17th century). The name of this chapel is Cappella della Madonna dei Ciechi (“Chapel of the Madonna of the Blind”).
Pietro Damini was responsible for the “Saint Jerome and Girolamo Selvatico” in the second, and the “Crucified Jesus with the Saints Magdalene and Caterina, in the third chapel.
Rinaldo Rinaldi made the 19th century cenotaph near the side door. A cenotaph is a sepulchral monument that does not contain the actual remains of the deceased.
The Sacrestia dei Canonici contains several important art works. Giandomenio Tiepoli painted the “San Filippo Neri” and the “San Girolamo Emiliani”. Giusto de’ Menabuoi was responsible for the “Madonna and Child”. Giorgio Schiavone painted the two panels depicting various saints. The “Deposition” was done by Jacopo Montagnana.
The wardrobe with its carved walnut inlay contains a number of relics. These include a gilded silver processional cross of 1228, a silver inkwell, a cross and two 16th century siver candlesticks.
The statues in the presbytery are the work of the modern sculptor Giuliano Vangi (born 1931). They depict the four patron saints of Padua. The entire prespbytery was restores in 1997.
The “Madonna and Child” icon on the main altar in the right transept is supposed to have belonged to the poet Petrarch. According to the poet himself it had been painted by none other than Giotto.
Underneath the cathedral
The “altar of San Daniele” in the crypt is characterized by late 16th century bas-reliefs by Tiziano Aspetti.
The area underneath the cathedral contains ancient mosaics, terracotta vases, remains of columns and also bones of horses and oxen. The latter might be remains of pagan sacrifices.
Other finds in this area ended up in some of the local museums. Some Byzantine capitals with inscriptions referring to the Goddess Fortuna were moved to the Museo Civico, while other objects can now be seen in the Diocesan Museum.