Prato della Valle - Padua

PADUA (PADOVA)

Padova, (Padua) has been protagonist of Venetian history from ancient times. It was already an important centre during the Roman era - the historian, Tito Livio, was born here in BC 59 – as documented by the remains of an Arena.
During the municipal period, the city’s history was particularly dazzling – being very important for Christianity, in that S. Anthony, said to be from Padova, but really originally from Lisbon, spent the last days of his life here – then expansion in a great period of cultural and artistic development, under the dominion of the Carraresi Family from 1318 to 1405, thanks to the presence of illustrious scholars and popular artists also from the University, already active from 1222.

During the Carraresi period, the city saw the erection of some of its most famous monuments: Palazzo della Ragione, (Ragione Palace), the Basilica di S. Antonio, (Cathedral of S. Anthony) the Chiesa degli Eremitani, (Eremite Church) the Cappella degli Scrovegni (Scrovegni Chapel) containing Giotto’s frescoes, almost anticipating the role that Florence would have in 1400.
In 1405, Padova changed hands to the dominion of Venice, at the same time, continuing an autonomous role in culture and arte; due to the presence of artists such as Mantegna and Donatello. Notwithstanding this, the city never took on a monumental look, with its urban, irregular layout, alternating with large squares and small arched and picturesque roads, especially in the area of the old ghetto; towards a restored and lively centre for art galleries, shops, antiques and cafés.

Today, the city’s life is characterized by tourism, cultural events, the University and renowned Fiera Campionaria, with its continuous activities throughout the year and its constantly growing pavilions, has become one of the most important economic magnets of Northern Italy.

A visit through the city should begin at the Chiesa degli Eremitani (Eremite Church) which was built between 1276/1306 in the Roman/Gothic form; the inside is a single, magnificent nave with a vaulted, wooden ceiling. Not only is the church a pantheon of ancient patavina society, but also of the city itself, having been destroyed by ruinous bombardments from 11th March 1944: testimonial of this destruction and then of the reconstruction, are the remains of the recomposed frescoes of Andrea Mantegna in Cappella Ovetari (Ovetari Chapel). Next to the church, the Capella degli Scrovegni stands high – from the surname of the family who purchased it – the casket of the Giotto masterpiece; the 38 panels with stories of Maria and Jesus and the great Universal Judgement, painted between 1303 and 1305, representing the birth of modern Italian painting, with characteristic prospective of colour and characterization of personage, who already seem to be ahead of their time.

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PADUA
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