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. Deco ...
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

Saint-Eustache

The Church of St Eustace was built between 1532-1632. St Eustace"s is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there.

The origins of Saint Eustache date back to 13th century. The church became a parish church in 1223, thanks to a man named Jean Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby, as granted by King Philip Augustus. To thank such divine generosity, Alais constructed a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity, and it is believed that it was the transfer of a relic of Saint Eustache from the Abbey to Saint-Denis to the Church of Saint Eustache which resulted in its naming. Jeanne Baptiste d"Albert de Luynes was baptised here.

According to tourist literature on-site, during the French Revolution the church, like most churches in Paris, was desecrated, looted, and used for a time as a barn. The church was restored after the Revolution had run its course and remains in use today. Several impressive paintings by Rubens remain in the church today. Each summer, organ concerts commemorate the premieres of Berlioz’s Te Deum and Liszt’s Christus here in 1886.

The church is an example of a Gothic structure clothed in Renaissance detail. The church is relatively short in length at 105m, but its interior is 33.45m high to the vaulting. At the main façade, the left tower has been completed in Renaissance style, while the right tower remains a stump. The front and rear aspects provide a remarkable contrast between the comparatively sober classical front and the exuberant rear, which integrates Gothic forms and organization with Classical details. The L"écoute sculpture by Henri de Miller appears outside the church, to the south. A Keith Haring sculpture stands in a chapel of the church.

The Chapel of the Virgin was built in 1640 and restored from 1801 to 1804. It was inaugurated by Pius VII on the 22nd of December, 1804 when he came to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon. The apse chapel, with a ribbed cul-de-four vault, has at its centre a sculpture of the Virgin and Child of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle that the painter Thomas Couture highlighted by three large paintings.

With 8,000 pipes, the organ is reputed to be the largest pipe organ in France, surpassing the organs of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame de Paris. The organ originally constructed by P.-A. Ducroquet was powerful enough for the premiere of Hector Berlioz" titanic Te Deum to be performed at St-Eustache in 1855.