Top Historic Sights in Padua, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Padua

Palazzo della Ragione

The Palazzo della Ragione is a medieval town hall in Padua. The building, with its great hall on the upper floor, is reputed to have the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe; the hall is nearly rectangular, its length 81.5m, its breadth 27m, and its height 24 m; the walls are covered with allegorical frescoes; the building stands on arches, and the upper storey is surrounded by an open loggia, not unlike that w ...
Founded: 1172-1219 | Location: Padua, Italy

Prato della Valle

Prato della Valle is a 90,000 square meter elliptical square in Padua. It is the largest square in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe. Today, the square is a large space with a green island at the center, l'Isola Memmia, surrounded by a small canal bordered by two rings of statues. Prior to 1635, the area was largely a featureless expanse of partially swampy terrain just south of the old city walls of Padova. In 163 ...
Founded: 1636 | Location: Padua, Italy

University of Padua

The University of Padua was founded in 1222 as a school of law and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. Padua is the second-oldest university in Italy and the world"s fifth-oldest surviving university.  Since 1595, Padua"s famous anatomical theatre drew artists and scientists studying the human body during public dissections. It is the oldest surviving permanent anatomical theat ...
Founded: 1222 | Location: Padua, Italy

Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua

The Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, locally as 'il Santo' it is one of the eight international shrines recognized by the Holy See. Construction of the Basilica probably began around 1232, just one year after the death of St. Anthony. It was completed in 1310 although several structural modifications (including the falling of the ambulatory and the construction of a new choir screen) took place bet ...
Founded: 1232-1310 | Location: Padua, Italy

Padua Synagogue

The Italian Synagogue of Padua is the only synagogue in city still in use from the Renaissance through World War II. It was built in 1584 and restored in 1581, 1631, 1830, and 1865. It was closed in 1892 when the community built a modern synagogue, but reopened after the war because in 1943 fascists burned the modern synagogue. The synagogue is located in the historic ghetto. The baroque synagogue measures 18 by 7 met ...
Founded: 1584 | Location: Padua, Italy

Padua Botanical Garden

The Orto Botanico di Padova is a botanical garden in Padua, founded in 1545 by the Venetian Republic. It is the world's oldest academic botanical garden that is still in its original location. The garden, affiliated with the University of Padua, currently covers roughly 22,000 square meters, and is known for its special collections and historical design. A circular wall enclosure was built to protect the garden from the ...
Founded: 1545 | Location: Padua, Italy

Scrovegni Chapel

The Scrovegni Chapel contains a fresco cycle by Giotto, completed about 1305 and considered to be an important masterpiece of Italian and European art. The fresco cycle details the life of the Virgin Mary and has been acknowledged by many to be one of the most important fresco cycles in the world. The church was dedicated to Santa Maria della Carità at the Feast of the Annunciation, 1303, and consecrated in 1305. D ...
Founded: 1303-1305 | Location: Padua, Italy

Church of the Hermits

The Church of the Eremitani, or Church of the Hermits, is an Augustinian church of the 13th century. It was built in 1276 and dedicated to the saints Philip and James; it is however best known as degli Eremitani from the annexed old monastery, which now houses the municipal art gallery. The chapel of SS. James and Christopher (Ovetari Chapel), formerly illustrated by Mantegna"s frescoes, was largely destroyed by the ...
Founded: 1276 | Location: Padua, Italy

Padua Cathedral

Padua Cathedral is the third structure built on the same site. The first one was erected after the Edict of Milan in 313 and destroyed by an earthquake on 3 January 1117. It was rebuilt in Romanesque style: the appearance of the medieval church can be seen in the frescoes by Giusto de' Menabuoi in the adjoining baptistery. The design of the existing cathedral is sometimes attributed to Michelangelo, but in fact it was th ...
Founded: 1551 | Location: Padua, Italy

Abbey of Santa Giustina

The Abbey of Santa Giustina is attached to the basilica which was built in the 520s AD by the Prefect Opilius to house the remains of St. Justina of Padua and of other Christian martyrs of the city. By the 10th century the community has been under the Rule of St. Benedict. At that point the monastic community undertook renovations of the basilica. In 1110 the abbey was sacked by the troops of the future Holy Roman Empe ...
Founded: 520 AD | Location: Padua, Italy

Santa Sofia Church

anta Sofia in Padua is the oldest church structure in the city. It was built in the 10th century on the site of a presumed Roman Mithraeum. The first document dates from 1123. The apse was the first phase of the construction, sometime in the ninth century. Primary construction was between 1070 and 1080. This phase ended in 1106. The second phase opened in 1117 and ended in about 1170. The structure underwent embellishmen ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Padua, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Klis Fortress

From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.

Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.

In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.

Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.