University Pavia

The University of Pavia has existed as such only since 1361. At its foundation, in the 9th century, it was a simple school. It consists of a number of blocks of houses, connected by corridors and beautiful courtyards. Christopher Columbus once took a course in “discovering America” here.

University of Pavia

Useful information

Address: Corso di Strada Nuova, 65 – 27100 Pavia. Phone: +39 038221711.

History and description

University of Pavia
University of Pavia

The complex of buildings making up the University of Pavia was constructed in two different periods. The oldest dates back to the 15th century, while the newer part was added only in the 17th and 18th centuries. The more recent buildings are characterized by a neo-classical architectural style.

The oldest part of the university served as the seat of the San Matteo Hospital until 1932.

The buildings added later are connected by four courtyards and have separate entrances on Corso di Strada Nuova.

In 1771, the facade on the street side was redesigned by Giuseppe Piermarini on behalf of the Austrian government. He also provided two of the courtyards with a new look, with a double row of porticos with lower arches resting on Doric columns.

The first entrance leads to a courtyard (the “cortile medico“) with an entrance into the anatomical room. The dome of this Aula Scarpa, designed in 1785 by Leopoldo Pollack, is graced by multiple paintings.

The entrance to the Museum of the History of the University is in the northeast corner of this courtyard. The collection consists, in addition to anatomical models, of tools and documents of famous people who used to teach there.

The statue in the next courtyard (the “cortile legale“) is that of Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery. The portico of this courtyard is graced by plaques and busts of famous jurists from Pavia.

The Aula Foscoliana, named after the 19th century writer Ugo Foscolo, is located on the second floor.

The third courtyard (“cortile teologico“), which the main entrance opens onto, was also designed by Pollack. It is also known as the “Portico delle Statue” because of the many statues.

This courtyard leads through a corridor to the Piazza Leonardo da Vinci and the Aula Magna. A monumental staircase leads to the Library and to the Aula Volta, also designed by Pollack, where the professor himself once taught.

The south side ends in two courtyards, connected by a covered corridor. This is where the Leano Monastery used to be located.

The 15th century part is located along the first two courtyards. It is entered from Piazza Leonardo da Vinci through the so-called “cortile Teresiano“. On the left side there are four cloisters. In the so-called Chiostro Sforzesco, parts of the original pottery decorations can still be seen. The Art History Library is located on the south side and overlooks the “Cortile delle Magnolie“.

In the 18th century a dome was built at the intersection. Simultaneously, the neo-classical Aula Carlo Forlanini was erected on the south side.

University Pavia


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