Outshone by the glamour of Venice, Padua lies just half an hour away from it.
Let’s take a quick peek at this historical town which claims to be the oldest in Northern Italy.
Renaissance architecture, genuine Italian vibe, Padua is a real hidden gem, unjustifiably forgotten by the masses.
During the renaissance Padua quickly rose to be one of the most important cultural centers of Europe, made possible by the relative peace and stability throughout a millennium under the Venetian Republic.
Many buildings and signature ‘porticos’ are constructed by the talented retainers of that time who came to fulfill their artistic pursuit.
The city is picturesque with dense a network of arcaded streets opening to large communal ‘piazzas’, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione, which was once the moat surrounding the ancient walls.
Prato della Valle
One of the best known symbols of Padua is the Prato della Valle (Valley of Grass). A 19,000 square meter elliptical square, that 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.
Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua
Padua’s second most popular site is the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua.
Saint Anthony died in 1231 and when he was exhumed in 1263 he has totally decomposed, except for curiously his tongue. The tongue was just as wet and incorrupt as it has been in his life when he was celebrated for his oratory skills. Now the tongue is displayed in the basilica in elaborate golden reliquaries.
Noted by his contemporaries for his powerful preaching, expert knowledge of scriptures and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick. Saint Anthony was one of the most quickly canonized saints in church history. He is also the patron saint of lost things. Today, most come to venerate Saint Anthony in hopes, that he might help them find what they are looking for. Unfortunately, it wasn’t allowed to make a recording of the relic.
The Astronomical Observatory of the University of Padua
Another famous landmark of Padua is the La Specola. The La Specola is the site of ancient astronomical observatory of the University of Padua. It is located on Tower Torlonga, the larger of the two towers of the ancient castle of Padua. It is 49.5 meter high. Originally, Tower Torlonga was an ancient medieval defense tower built in the ninth century, which was later used as a prison and torture chamber.
Having always been a cradle for change, and a formidable rival for dominance with Venice and Verona in the Northern Italian plain, Padua, the robust cultural engine in the North holds much secret and zeal yet to be explored.