Padova, Veneto

The city of Padua (from the Latin Patavium, Padova in Italian) is the economic and communications hub of the Veneto region in northern Italy. It is the city of St. Antony, one of the main saints of Catholicism, and is where most of the action in Shakespeare's play, "The Taming of the Shrew", takes place.


  • Population: about 210,000 inhabitants in 2018
  • Zip/postal code: from 35121 to 35143
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 049
  • Patron saints: Padova has four patrons, San Prosdocimo, celebrated on 7th November, St. Antony of Padua, celebrated on 13th June; Santa Giustina, celebrated on 7th October, and San Daniele, celebrated on 3rd January.

Administrative division

    Padova is divided into "quartieri" which in their turn include "zone" and "rioni":
  • Quartiere 1 Centro, all within the city walls, includes the five areas of zona Portello, zona Ospedali, zona Santo-Prato della Valle, zona Piazza Castello-Riviere, zona Savonarola-Piazza Mazzini-Stazione Ferroviaria.
  • Quartiere 2 Nord, includes Arcella-S. Carlo-Pontevigodarzere
  • Quartiere 3 Est, includes Brenta-Venezia, Forcellini-Camin and the "rioni" of Ponte di Brenta, San Lazzaro, Mortise, Torre, Pio X, Stanga, Forcellini, Terranegra, San Gregorio, Camin, Granze.
  • Quartiere 4 Sud-Est, includes S. Croce-S. Osvaldo, Voltabarozzo, SS. Crocifisso-Salboro, Bassanello-Guizza and the "rioni" of Santa Rita, Sant'Osvaldo, Madonna Pellegrina, SS. Crocefisso, Città Giardino, Santa Croce, San Paolo, Guizza.
  • Quartiere 5 Sud-Ovest, includes Armistizio-Savonarola and the "rioni" of Porta Trento Nord, Porta Trento Sud, San Giuseppe, Sacra Famiglia, Paltana, Voltabrusegana, Mandria.
  • Quartiere 6 Ovest, includes Brentella-Valsugana.

The Territory

San Giustino The city lies along the Bacchiglione river, 40km west of Venice and 29km southeast of Vicenza. Its agricultural setting is the Pianura Padana, the "Paduan plain," edged by the Euganean Hills praised by Lucan and Martial, Petrarch and Ugo Foscolo. The city is picturesque, with a dense network of arcaded streets opening into large communal piazze, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione, which once surrounded the ancient walls like a moat.

History - Antiquity

Padua claims to be the most ancient city in northern Italy. The legend says it was founded by the Trojan Antenor, whose relics the commune recognized in a large stone sarcophagus exhumed in the year 1274. The historical Padua inhabited by Veneti thrived thanks to its excellent breed of horses and the wool of its sheep. A Roman municipium since 45 BCE, it became powerful and famous in Roman times. Abano nearby was the birthplace of the historian Livy, and Padua was the native place of Valerius Flaccus, Asconius Pedianus and Thrasea Paetus.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, it then passed under the Gothic kings Odoacer and Theodoric the Great, but during the Gothic War it made submission to the Greeks in 540. The history of Padua follows the course of events common to most cities of north-eastern Italy.

History - the Middle Ages

Under the Lombards the city of Padua rose in revolt (601) against Agilulf, the Lombard king, and was stormed and burned by him. The Padua of Antiquity was annihilated: the remains of an amphitheater (the Arena) and some bridge foundations are all that remain of Roman Padua today.

The people fled to the hills and returned to eke out a living among the ruins; the ruling class abandoned the city for Laguna, according to a chronicle. The city did not easily recover from this blow, and Padua was still weak when the Franks succeeded the Lombards as masters of north Italy.

At the Frankish Diet of Aix-la-Chapelle (828), the duchy and march of Friuli, in which Padua lay, was divided into four counties, one of which took its title from that city. During the period of episcopal supremacy over the cities of northern Italy Padua was not very important and its bishops were, for the most part, Germans.

At the beginning of the 11th century the citizens established a constitution, and during the next century they were engaged in wars with Venice and Vicenza for the right of water-way on the Bacchiglione and the Brenta. The citizens, in order to protect their liberties, were obliged to elect a podestà, and after 1174 their choice fell first on one of the Este family.

In 1236 Frederick II established his tyrannical vicar Ezzelino da Romano in Padua and the neighbouring cities, where he practised frightful cruelties on the inhabitants. When Ezzelino was unseated in June 1256 thanks to Pope Alexander IV, Padua enjoyed a period of rest and prosperity: the university flourished; the basilica of the saint was begun; the Paduans became masters of Vicenza. But this advance brought them into dangerous proximity to Can Grande della Scala, lord of Verona, to whom they had to yield in 1311.

As a reward for freeing the city from the Scalas, Jacopo da Carrara was elected lord of Padua in 1318. From that date till 1405 nine members of the enlightened Carrara family succeeded one another as lords of the city. It was a long period of restlessness, for the Carraresi were constantly at war; they were finally extinguished between the growing power of the Visconti and of Venice.

History - Modern Times

Padua prospered economically, and culturally, and in 1405 passed under Venetian rule, and so remained till the fall of the republic in 1797. The city was governed by two Venetian nobles, a podestà for civil and a captain for military affairs; each of these was elected for sixteen months. Venice fortified Padua with new walls, built between 1513 and 1544, and with a series of monumental gates.

After the fall of the Venetian republic the history of Padua follows the history of Venice under the French and Austrians. In 1866 Padua and the rest of the Veneto became part of the united Kingdom of Italy.

What to see

  • The Palazzo della Ragione, 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 815m, width 27m, and its height 24m; the walls are covered with allegorical frescoes. The Palazzo was begun in 1172 and finished in 1219; in 1306 Fra Giovanni, an Augustinian friar, covered the whole with one roof; originally there were three roofs, spanning the three chambers into which the hall was at first divided; the internal partition walls remained till the fire of 1420, when the Venetian architects who undertook the restoration removed them, throwing all three spaces into one and forming the present great hall, the Salone. The new space was refrescoed by Nicolo' Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara, working from 1425 to 1440. Basilica di Sant'Antonio
  • The most famous of the Paduan churches is the basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, locally simply called "Il Santo." The bones of the saint rest in a chapel richly ornamented with carved marbles, the work of various artists, among them of Sansovino and Falconetto; the basilica was begun about the year 1230 and completed in the following century; tradition says that the building was designed by Nicola Pisano; it is covered by seven cupolas, two of them pyramidal. On the piazza in front of the church is Donatello's magnificent equestrian statue of "Gattamelata" ( Erasmo da Narni), the Venetian general (1438-1441), which was cast in 1453, the first full-size equestrian bronze cast since antiquity.
  • The university founded around a rebuilt mediaeval inn of the "Bo" (the Ox), the mid-16th century Old Courtyard by Andrea Moroni. In the "Room of the Forty" remains the chair of Galileo, who taught in Padua from 1592 to 1610; the Aula Magna, rich with coats of arms and decorations; the famous Anatomy Theatre, where Vesalius taught through dissections, is the oldest in the world (1594).
  • The botanical garden, founded in 1545 as the garden of curative herbs attached to the University's faculty of medicine. It is the oldest botanical garden in the world and still contains an important collection of rare plants.

Culture and Economy

Padua has long been famous for its university, founded by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1238. The list of professors and alumni is long, containing, among others, the names of Bembo, Sperone Speroni, the anatomist Vesalius, Fallopius, Fabrizio d'Acquapendente, Galileo Galilei, Pietro Pomponazzi, Reginald, later Cardinal Pole, Scaliger, Tasso and Sobieski.

The place of Padua in the history of art is nearly as important as its place in the history of learning. The presence of the university attracted many distinguished artists, as Giotto, Fra Filippo Lippi and Donatello; and for native art there was the school of Francesco Squarcione (1394-1474), whence issued the great Mantegna (1431-1506).

The industry of Padua has greatly developed in modern times. Corn and saw mills, distilleries, chemical factories, breweries, candle-works, ink-works, foundries, agricultural machine and automobile works, have been established and are flourishing. The trade of the district has grown to such an extent that Padua has become the central market for the whole of Veneto.

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