Padova Tour (Group 1) – Friday 21st November 2014

Padova Tour (Group 1) – Friday 21st November 2014
2.00 – 5.15 pm
Included Stages
Palazzo Bo, Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza della Frutta, Piazza dei Signori, Prato della Valle, Basilica del Santo
Basic information
The tour is intended to give visitors the opportunity to admire the heart of the city of Padova, including its most
beautiful squares and historical buildings
Tour description
The tour provides a pleasant way to discover the city of Padova and to experience its most magical sights. Conceived
as a one-day tour, it will take you to the most remarkable places, pointing out the most significant architectural and
artistic details of the city highlights.
The tour starts with a visit to the seat of the University of Padova, i.e. Palazzo Bo, where famous personalities studied
or taught over the centuries; close to this building is the Caffè Pedrocchi, the most charming café of the 19 century.
Not far from this palace are the most beautiful squares that make Padova greatly attractive, i.e. Piazza delle Erbe,
Piazza dei Frutti and Piazza dei Signori.
Going forward, it is possible to admire the Basilica di S. Antonio, the spectacular sanctuary dedicated to the
Portuguese friar arrived in Padova in 1228. Not far from the Basilica is Prato della Valle, one of the biggest squares of
Europe, which constitutes the central meeting place in Padova.
2 - 2.30 pm Palazzo Bo
2.30 - 3.15 pm Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza della Frutta, Piazza dei Signori
3.15 - 3.30 pm Caffè Pedrocchi
3.45 - 4.15 pm Prato della Valle
4.30 - 5.15 pm Basilica del Santo
Palazzo Bo
The “Bo” – the name used to indicate not only the palace
occupied by the University of Padova’ s central government,
but also the University as a whole and an institution – is the
Veneto form of the Latin expression Hospitium Bovis which,
together with an ox’s head, appeared on the sign of a
famous Paduan inn that was acquired by the University at
the end of the 15 century.
The conversion work began in 1493 and was completed at
the end of the 17 century. A new series of renovation and
construction works took place in 1889. The completion of
the architectural arrangement dates from 1938-1942, under
the architect Ettore Fagiuoli from Verona, while the
architectural solutions for the interior were handled by the
The Old Courtyard
architect Gio Ponti from Milan.
The ancient courtyard, one of the most beautiful Renaissance Source:
buildings is a work by Andrea Moroni (1546 – 1587), the most important architect to work in Padova in the mid-16
century. It is surrounded by a double loggia with two rows of columns, Doric in the lower order and Ionic in the upper
one. The walls and vaults of the portico are entirely decorated with the coats of arms of the rectors and councilors
who ran the University from 1592 to 1688.
At the foot of one of the staircases leading to the loggias, there is a statue representing Elena Lucrezia Cornaro
Piscopia, the first woman in the world to be awarded a degree (1678), graduating from the University of Padova. The
Loggia leads to Sala dei Quaranta (Hall of the Fourty); to the right of the entrance is the cathedra which, according to
the tradition, was prepared so that Galileo could teach in the scuola grande dei legisti (now the Great hall), since the
other halls could not contain the enormous crowd that flocked to his lessons. Above the cathedra stands the bust of
the scientist.
On the walls are portraits of forty great foreign scholars of the University of Padova, coming from all over Europe. The
paintings were distempered by Giacomo dal Forno in 1942. Among so many scholars, three are particularly worthy of
- Michel de l’Hospital, of France (1504 – 1573),
collaborator to Catherine de Medici and French
- Thomas Linacre, of England (1460 – 1524), physician
and humanist, first president of the Royal College of
Physicians in London, he taught Greek at Oxford and
was personal physician to Henry VIII.
- William Harvey, of England (1578 – 1657), in Padova
he became interested in the problem of the circulation
of blood and he is considered the founder of the English
medical school.
From here it is possible to reach the Aula Magna
“Galileo Galilei”(Great Hall “Galileo Galilei”), which was
occupied from the 16 to the 18 century by the Scuola grande dei
legisti and was used for lectures. As already mentioned, Galileo also taught here and the hall is dedicated to his name.
In the first half of the 19 century it was used as a room for drawing classes. For its conversion into the Great Hall it
was restored (1854-1856) and decorated with the frescoes on the ceiling “Knowledge and the Disciplines” by the
Sala dei Quaranta
painter Giulio Carlini. The coats of arms are all original. The end wall, where the members of the Academic Senate sit
during the most important ceremonies was restored in 1942 by Gio Ponti. It bears the ancient University motto:
On the opposite corner of the upper loggia is the Aula della Facoltà di Medicina (Hall of the Faculty of Medicine), one
of the most ancient rooms of the building, that has become famous during the history of the University. Characterized
by the typical medieval ceiling and frieze, on its walls hang portraits of illustrious anatomists such as Morgagni,
Vesalio, Eustachio and Falloppio. In a display are also exhibited some skulls belonging to 19 century professors who
decided to donate their body after death to science research.
Next to the Hall of the Faculty of Medicine is the Teatro Anatomico (Anatomical Theatre), built in 1594 by the famous
anatomy professor Gerolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente. The
first permanent anatomy theatre in the world, it is
nonetheless still perfectly preserved. It is a wooden
construction in a funnel-like shape, with an oval base and
six concentric orders of steps rising around the anatomical
table. The balustrades are made of engraved walnut. The
originally blank windows were only opened in 1844 and the
anatomy lesson used to be held under torch-light. Legend
has it that when corpses had been dissected, they were
thrown into the river flowing under the building by opening
the planks which formed the bench. The theatre was used
for lectures up until 1872; it was somewhat altered in 184244 and completely restored in 1991-92.
At the top of the Anatomical Theatre stands a monument
to G. Battista Morgagni, who taught at the University of
The 16th century Anatomy Theatre
Padova for more than fifty years (1715 – 1771) and is
considered to be the father of modern anatomy and pathology.
Focus on: Famous Professors and Students at Padova University
In its almost eight centuries of history, the University of Padova has hosted many important personalities of the academic world,
both Professors and Students, which contributed significantly to develop culture, art and science.
The first, in chronological order, is Alberto Magno (Magno = the Great) of Bollstädt (1206 - 1280), bishop and saint, the greatest
German theologian and philosopher of the Middle Ages and teacher of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who studied at the University of
Padova during his youth. In addition to him, the famous humanist and educator Vittorino da Feltre (1378 - 1446) and the
philosophers Nicholas of Cusa, known in Italy as Nicola Cusano, (1401 - 1464) and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463 - 1494)
studied here.
Leon Battista Alberti (1404 - 1472), artist, architect and writer, was a young brilliant student of humanities at our University. It’s
interesting to remind that one of his works, Della famiglia (On the family), is a fictional dialogue set in Padova.
Pietro Bembo (1470 - 1547), the most influential figure in the development of Italian language, studied and lived for many years in
Torquato Tasso (1544 - 1595), best known for the epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered), studied here Law,
Literature and Philosophy.
The study of Astronomy largely expanded thanks to two “superstars”: Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 - 1543), who studied here and
was the first to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, and Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642), Professor of Geometry,
Mechanics and Astronomy from 1592 to 1610 and still considered the Father of the modern scientific method.
In the 16th - 18th centuries, the Medical School of Padova gained a considerable standing, starting from the studies of Girolamo
Fracastoro (1478 - 1553), who understood that infections are driven by bacteria which multiply inside the body and can be
transferred from one to another; he also published a medical poem, Syphilis sive morbus gallicus (On syphilis or French Disease), in
which the name syphilis was first given to the disease. Andreas van Wesel, known in Italy as Andrea Vesalio (1514 - 1564), brilliant
Professor of Anatomy and Surgery, is often referred to as the founder of modern human Anatomy: understanding the importance
of corpse dissection, he was able to give the first accurate descriptions of significant part of the human body. Gabriele Falloppio
(about 1523 - 1562), who studied for the first time in history the real structure of the female system (the fallopian tubes are
named after him), of the oculomotor muscles (inside human eye) and of various parts of the human ear, was Professor of
Anatomy, Surgery and Botany. His gifted pupil Girolamo Fabrici D’Acquapendente (about 1533 - 1619), who replaced him as a
Professor after his death, donated his own money to build the famous Anatomy Theatre (opened in 1594), and made important
studies about blood circulation, reviewed and developed by William Harvey (1578 - 1657) a few years later. Giovanni Battista
Morgagni (1682 - 1771), founder of the modern anatomo-pathology, was the first one to observe the correspondence between
illnesses and anatomical alterations, discovered through the autopsies. The ancient Pinali and the central University Libraries own
a treasure of many ancient books of the famous Anatomical School, included the entire Morgagni library.
In the same years, the smart and spirit-free Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (1646 - 1684), was the first woman in the world to get
a degree (in Philosophy, in 1678).
Giuseppe Tartini (1692 - 1770), before becoming a famous violinist and composer, studied Law to please his parents, and secretly
married Elisabetta Premazone, a woman of lower social class and, according to some historians, Padova’s bishop nephew. For this
reason he soon had to escape to Rome, disguised as a pilgrim.
Giacomo Casanova (1725 - 1798), the famous ladykiller and adventurer, mentioned in his Memorie (Memoirs) that he graduated in
Law from the University of Padova.
Ugo Foscolo (1778 - 1827), a very famous poet in the history of Italian literature, was a very young student when he sent to his
Professor Melchiorre Cesarotti (1730 - 1808), translator of Homer’s Iliad and of the so-called Poesie di Ossian (Ossian Poems), a
copy of his first tragedy, Tieste, full of giacobines ideas hidden by classical references. Ippolito Nievo (1831 - 1861) and Niccolò
Tommaseo (1802 - 1874), writers and patriots, were both students of Law here.
Recently the University of Padova has also hosted distinguished scholars, such as Vittore Branca (1913 - 2004), the discoverer of
Giovanni Boccaccio’s autograph manuscript of the Decameron (known as Code Hamilton 90), who was Professor of Italian
Literature until his death, and talented students such as the the physicist Eugenio Curiel (1912 - 1945), the poet Andrea Zanzotto
(1921) and the writer Boris Pahor (1913).
Piazza delle Erbe
The market in Piazza delle Erbe, founded in the 12
century and still existing, would sell wine, herbs,
grains and other goods considered worthless: the
two staircases which lead to Palazzo della Ragione
(i.e. Palace of Reason, the big palace between Piazza
delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta, built at the
beginning of the 13 century to host the law courts)
are called “del vin” (of the wine) and “dei ferri
lavorati” (of the wrought iron) according to the kind
of products which used to be sold at their bottom.
On this side - the southern - of the Palace, the
Piazza delle Erbe by night
façade is decorated with a sundial. This used to be
the arrival of the Corsa del Palio, (Race of the Cloth)
a race starting in Voltabarozzo, a few kilometres from the city centre: the winners were awarded a silk cloth (1
classified), a goose (2 classified) and an owl (3 classified).
In 1734, the Venetian Republic instituted the public Lottery Game. By 1838, the numbers were extracted from the
balcony of the Palazzo della Ragione. On the East side of the square is the back façade of the Palazzo del Municipio
(Municipal Building), which was the seat of Padova’s potestà (governor) until the end of the 18 century. The palace
dates back to the 13 century, although it was re-edited by Andrea Moroni between 1539 and 1558. On its 16
century façade you can find the engraving of the emblemi dei rettori (rectors’ emblems) and the Statua della Giustizia
(Statue of Justice), a work of art by Tiziano Minio (1552). In the 20 century it was further enlarged (with the so called
Moretti-Scarpari Wing) and decorated with memorial inscriptions of the 1 World War. Among these, a marble plan of
Padova with the indication of the 912 bombs dropped on the city.
Piazza della Frutta
It was once called “del Peronio”: the “peronio” is the
Romanesque column that stands in the square, just
in front of via Breda. It comes from the Latin word
“perones”, which means “boot”, because there used
to be a shoe market nearby the column. Its capital
presents four reliefs: a pumpkin, a palm tree, a pear
tree and a quince tree. On the capital, a block of
Istria stone bares Padova’s coat of arms (a cross
shield) and the image of Saint Prosdocimus, first
bishop of the city. In the square, on the 1 Thursday
of May, the fraglia degli strazzaroli (corporation of
Piazza della Frutta
the junk dealers) would organize the “Festa della
borsa” (Bag Festival), with the greasy pole contest: as it
is known, the greasy pole contest consists of a high pole, covered with grease, that must be climbed to the top in
order to reach the prize, usually something to eat or to wear. In this case, the prizes were a bag and a pair of gloves,
and that’s the reason why it was called “Bag Festival”. A marble relief of a bag is sculpted on the façade of a house in
via Marsilio da Padova.
The market in Piazza della Frutta, founded in the 12 century and still existing, sells fruit, vegetables, fish, eggs, birds,
roasted meat: the two staircases which lead to Palazzo della Ragione (the big palace between Piazza delle Erbe and
Piazza della Frutta, built at the beginning of the 13 century to host the law courts) are called “delle erbe” (of the
herbs) and “degli osei” (of the birds) according to the kind of products sold at their bottom.
On the square lies also Palazzo del Consiglio (City Council Building), a Romanesque building characterized by a loggia
on the ground floor and built in 1285 by the architect Leonardo Bocaleca, when the podestà (governor) of the city was
Fantone De Rossi. The three arches on the ground floor, in the past opening to form a portico, are supported by two
columns surmounted by Byzantine capitals from older buildings, called i due catini d’oro (the two golden bowls). The
western side is partially covered by the Volto della Corda. This was a
pillory, where criminals were sentenced to tratti di corda (punishment by
ropes): the cheating traders were raised from their wrists until the height
of 3-4 metres to be subsequently dropped. Hooks for ropes were inserted
into five stone rings, the remains of which may still be seen along the wall
leading to the Salone.
Next to Palazzo del Consiglio is the high Torre degli Anziani (Tower of
Elders), which was sold to the city of Padova by the Tiso family from
Camposampiero in 1215. At that time the tower was also called Torre
Bianca (White Tower). Its bell was used to gather the populace together
and as a signal of fire. A Torre Rossa (Red Tower) was built alongside
Palazzo del Consiglio but was later destroyed.
The Torre degli Anziani borders on Palazzo degli Anziani (Palace of
Elders): completed in 1285 when the podestà was Guglielmo Malaspina
degli Obìzzi and enlarged in the 16 century, its ground floor was once the
Torre degli Anziani
salt store of the city. Engraved in the stone above the pillars of the portico, Source:
Malaspina’s coat of arms alternate with the cross shield, symbol of Padova.
Piazza dei Signori
Piazza dei Signori (Square of the Lords) takes its name
from the ancient Reggia dei Da Carrara (Da Carrara’s
Palace), which doesn’t exist anymore.
On the pavement, in a corner, stands a column with
the Lion of Saint Mark, that was destroyed by the
French in 1797 and replaced in 1870.
During the 16 century there used to be the arrival of
the Corsa degli Asini, delle putte e degli ebrei (Race of
donkeys, girls and Jews), a race starting at Ponte
Molino, at the end of via Dante: the race celebrated
the Venetian victory against the Austrian emperor
Maximilian I of Hapsburg in 1509.
Piazza dei Signori and Palazzo del Capitanio
On the West side of the square is Palazzo del Capitanio
(Capitanio’s Palace) with its Torre dell’Orologio (Clock
Tower), on the South side Loggia del Consiglio (Council’s Loggia), and on the East side the small Chiesa di S. Clemente
(Church of Saint Clement).
Palazzo del Capitanio was once the seat of the Capitanio, one of the two Venetian rectors living permanently in
Padova. In the middle of its façade (1598-1605) stands the Clock Tower. The clock, the first in Italy to show months,
days, Moon phases and position of the Sun in the Zodiac besides hours, was created in 1437 by Giovanni delle Caldiere
and is based on a 1344 project by Giovanni Dondi, nicknamed dell’Orologio (of the clock).
The Loggia del Consiglio, conceived to be the new seat of Council meetings after the destruction of Palazzo della
Ragione by a fire in 1420, was projected by Annibale Maggi in 1492 and accomplished by Giovanni Maria Falconetto
(beginning from 1530). Inside the Loggia, the walls of Sala del Consiglio (Council’s Hall) are decorated with a fresco
paintings by Pier Antonio Torri (1667).
The small Church of Saint Clement dates back to 1190; its façade was modified during the 16 century, when the
pseudo-pilasters were added, together with the statues of St. Clement, St. Justina and St. Daniel. The interior is a
single nave with a square apse and altar on both sides: two of them belonged to the ancient corporations of oresi
(jewellers) and casoini (cheese and milk sellers).
Caffè Pedrocchi
The back façade of Caffè Pedrocchi
Caffè Pedrocchi (Pedrocchi Café) represents one of the
most important historical cafés and was built between
1831 and 1838 by the famous architect Giuseppe
Jappelli in a mixture of neoclassical and neo-gothic
In 1816 Antonio Pedrocchi, son of a coffee-house
keeper originally from Bergamo, bought a group of
dilapidated old houses north of property he already
owned. His intention was to enlarge a building south
of his coffee house, making it into a Café. The great
Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli was entrusted
with the new building project, and work started in
1826 during which many important architectural fragments
of Roman age, which are now housed in the Musei Civici
Eremitani (Eremitani Civic Museums), came to light.
Since its opening the "café without doors" welcomed eminent
guests such as the writer Stendhal, who named its desserts as
some of the best he ever tried, as well as students who always
spent hours in the reading room discussing all sorts of
matters, sometimes producing innovative ideas or planning
revolution, as they did in 1848 during Hapsburg domination.
The style of the two buildings with Doric loggias, united by a
Corinthian loggia on the first floor, is a combination of
neoclassical and neo-gothic styles. The monumental interior
develops around the Sala Rossa (Red Room), with a semicircular niche at one end, subdivided into three parts by
Sala Rossa
Ionian columns and decorated with large paintings of
Source: Wikipedia
geographical maps. Since its foundation students used to meet in
the Sala Verde (Green Room), without having to buy any drink. On the other side of the Sala Rossa, symmetrical to
Sala Verde, is the Sala Bianca (White Room), where a bullet hole left by an Austrian rifle during the student riots of
1848 reminds of the atmosphere of the origins.
On the upper floor, where now the Museo del Risorgimento e dell’Età Contemporanea (Museum of the Risorgimento
and Contemporary Age) is housed, rooms and halls are decorated according to different themes.
Prato della Valle
The biggest square in Padova, Prato della Valle,
is a sort of Paduan Hyde Park, which turns on
Saturdays into a very crowded market full of
students, tourists, inline-skaters and every kind
of sportsmen especially on sunny days. It is one
of the largest square in Europe (88.620 mq).
Prato della Valle includes 78 statues
representing illustrious people, which are set in
two rings round a large elliptical green island,
surrounded by a canal crossed by 4 bridges.
Each bridge is connected to a path that goes
through the square and leads to the centre of it,
where a fountain is set.
View of Prato della Valle
This huge open space had since ancient times
economical and recreational functions. In Roman time it was the seat both of a large theatre called Zairo, and of a
circus for horse racing which was also used for fights in the time of persecutions of Christians. Here Saint Justina and
Saint Daniel, two of the four Paduan patron saints, were martyred. Another important monument to be found in this
area was a temple, probably dated around 70 AD and dedicated to the Concordia (goddess of agreement,
understanding, and harmony).
In the Middle Ages the Prato della Valle area was the seat of fairs, public feasts and competitions, but also of
gatherings and markets. Even some sermons by Saint Anthony were held here, because the area could host thousands
of people.
The “Pra’” has maintained its current appearance and unique shape since 1775, when the enlightened Venetian noble
and attorney of the city of Padova Andrea Memmo, decided to reclaim the once marshy and unhealthy area of the
city. The attorney charged Abbot Domenico Cerato, professor of Practical Architecure at the University of Padova,
with recasting the square.
Memmo’s idea was to create a sort of fair, in order to encourage citizens and outsiders to buy there. Therefore
“Memmia Island” was built at the centre of the area and surrounded by shops, which were later demolished and
replaced by plane trees.
The sculptures, made by Antonio Canova and other Paduan artists between 1775 and 1883, represent many famous
Paduan citizens such as Antenor, Galileo Galilei, Pope Clement XIII, Andrea Memmo, Torquato Tasso, Ludovico Ariosto,
Andrea Mantegna and Canova himself. Some statues were destroyed during the Napoleonic invasion, in particular
those representing Venetian doges like Domenico Contarini, Alvise Mocenigo, Francesco Morosini and Antonio
Grimani, and subsequently replaced by obelisks.
Across the road stands the majestic Basilica of Santa Giustina. The abbey, a national monument whose length (122 m)
and wideness (82 m) make it one of the largest in the Christian world, is home to historical treasures and works of art,
including a huge library of 130,000 books.
The statues of Prato della Valle
Antonio Diedo
12. Obelisk
23. Pope Eugene IV
34. Obelisk
13. Bernardo Nani
24. Bernardino Trevisan
35. Francesco Petrarca
Alberto Azzo II d' Este
14. Vettor Pisani
25. Antonio Da Rio
36. Galileo Galilei
P. Clodio Trasea Peto
15. Lodovico Sambonifacio
26. Andrea Da Recanati
37. Alessandro Orsato
Torquato Tasso
16. Antonio Michiel
27. Ludovico Ariosto
38. Altenerio Degli Azzoni
Pietro D' Abano
17. Antonio Barbarigo
28. Albertino Mussato
39. Sicco Polentone
Giovanni Francesco Mussato
18. Domenico Lazzarini
29. Giuseppe Tartini
40. Antonio Zacco
Pagano Della Torre
19. Taddeo Pepoli
30. Giovanni Maria Memmo
41. Cesare Piovene
Lucio Arrunzio Stella
20. Marco Mantova Benavides
31. Michele Morosini
42. Maffeo Memmo
21. Andrea Mantegna
32. Melchiorre Cesarotti
43. Andrea Navagero
22. Pope Paul II
33. Obelisk
44. Andrea Memmo
46. Zambono Dotto dei Dauli
56. Obelisk
67. Pope Clement XIII
(C. Rezzonico)
47. Sperone Speroni
57. Antonio Schinella
De' Conti
Pietro Danieletti
Antonio Canova
48. Tito Livio
58. Jacopino De' Rossi
Francesco Luigi Fanzago
Rainiero Vasco
49. Gerolamo Sarvognan
59. Gustavo Adamo Baner
Francesco Pisani
Francesco Morosini
50. Fortunio Liceti
60. Gustavo II Adolfo di Svezia
Giulio Pontedera
Gerolamo Liorsi
51. Lodovico Buzzacarini
61. Matteo De' Ragnina
Nicolò Tron
Antonio Savonarola
52. Giovanni Poleni
62. Giobbe Ludolf
Francesco Guicciardini
Marino Cavalli
53. Guglielmo Malaspina
degli Obizzi
63. Stefano Gallini
Jacopo Menochio
Andrea Briosco
54. Giovanni Dondi dell' Orologio
64. Filippo Salviati
Giovanni Sobiesky
Albertino Papafava
55. Obelisk
65. Uberto Pallavicino
Stefano Bathory
Michele Savonarola
66. Pope Alexander VIII
(Pietro Ottoboni)
Basilica di Sant’Antonio
The Basilica was built on the small church of Santa Maria
Mater Domini (St. Mary Mother of God), which was
integrated as the Chapel of the Black Madonna in the left
aisle, to host the faithful who wanted to listen to St.
Anthony’s sermons. Next to this the Friary, which was
probably founded by St. Anthony himself, sprang up.
Together with other 3 places of worship in Italy, it
belongs directly to the Vatican State, and it is subjected
to its jurisdiction.
The equestrian statue left to the façade is a masterpiece
by the famous Florentine sculptor Donatello, who
worked in Padova between 1443 and 1453. The statue
represents Erasmo da Narni, known as the
Basilica of St. Anthony
“Gattamelata”, a mercenary who served many Italian
governing authorities of those time, including the Pope. The
bronze statue was done in the lost wax method. Its dignity, majesty and grandeur recall earlier equestrian statues of
the Roman era, such as “Marco Aurelio” in Rome. Both the man and the horse are portrayed in life size; the man
wears his armor with a lengthy sword upon his waist, the horse holds its front left hoof on a globe, symbolizing the
power upon the entire world. The statue is placed on a high pedestal decorated with two reliefs toward the top with
fake doors underneath (symbols of the hereafter).
Focus on: St. Anthony
The Basilica is the result of three reconstructions which were
realized over a period of 70 years (1238-1310). After the fire
St. Anthony (1195-1231), a Franciscan friar of Portuguese origin,
and the collapse of a bell-tower in 1394, restoration works
stayed in Padova on two occasions: the first between 1229 and
1230 and the second between 1230 and 1231, during which he
went on in the 15 century. New works of art have been added
met his early death. He was a very famous and appreciated
inside the Basilica until the contemporary age. As a result,
preacher, and said to be author of many miracles. He also had a
elements of different styles and ages coexist.
hand in changing the municipal legislation of Padova, in
The brick gabled façade, characterized by a Romanesque
particular, a statute regarding insolvent debtors, dated 17 March
central section which was extended outwards when the aisles
1231. In the same year, he became so ill with dropsy and asthma
that he went to the woodland retreat at Camposampiero with two
were built, acquiring in the process four deep Gothic recesses,
other friars for a respite, where he lived in a cell built for him
is surmounted by a gothic arcaded balcony and enriched with a
under the branches of a walnut tree. He died on the way back to
rose-tympanum, some archlets and a round little cuspidate
Padova on 13th June (when nowadays is celebrated his feast) 1231,
steeple on the top. The complex is refined by the rosette
at the Clarisses convent at Arcella, in the suburbs of the town.
window, the mullioned windows on the sides and the vivacious
chromatic effect due to the insertion of white stones in the arches. The domes, like the domes of St. Mark's Basilica,
were raised in height externally, giving a Byzantine appearance to the building, while the multitude of small belfries
which accompany the domes recall Turkish minarets. The lunette above the central door is a copy of the original
fresco by Mantegna (15 century), representing St. Anthony and St. Bernardine of Siena, which is nowadays preserved
inside the Antonian Museum. The bronze doors date back to the end of the 19 century.
The Latin crosswise interior is divided into a nave and two aisles by pilasters, with recurrent galleries and
hemispherical domes hold up by pointed arches. The apse is entirely frescoed and contains nine radial chapels and a
wide presbytery. Behind the choir is an ample ambulatory which is joined to the aisles.
On the counter-façade, there is a 1985 fresco by Pietro Annigoni, which shows Sant’Antonio che predica dal noce (St.
Anthony preaching from the walnut tree), as he used to do during his stay in Camposampiero. Another painting by the
same author is the altarpiece (the first on the left) of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan friar who volunteered to
die in place of a stranger in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, and was canonized for this reason (1982) by
Pope John Paul II.
On the first column of the left nave there is the so-called Madonna del Pilastro (Our Lady of the Pillar). This fresco was
painted slightly after the middle of the 14 century by Stefano da Ferrara, but the angels above, the two apostles and
the brilliant diadems on the heads of the Virgin and Jesus were added later.
In the left transept there is the Cappella dell’Arca del Santo (Chapel of the Saint’s Ark), which keeps St. Anthony’s
relics from 1350, after being previously moved from the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini to the centre of the
Basilica (1263), under the present cone-shaped cupola (in front of the Presbytery). Until the beginning of the 16th
century, the style of the chapel has always been Gothic, with frescoes by Stefano da Ferrara. The current decoration
was completed in the 16 century, and it has been attributed to Tullio Lombardo. The statues on the altar (St.
Anthony between St. Bonaventure and St. Louis of Anjou) and the altar itself, including the green marble sarcophagus,
are works of art by Tiziano Aspetti (end of the 16 century). The nine high-reliefs on the walls present some episodes
of St. Anthony’s life, mostly his miracles.
From left to right:
 St. Anthony receives the Franciscan habit (A. Minello, 1517);
 St. Anthony heals the wife stabbed unjustly by her jealous husband (G. Rubino – S. Cosini, 1536);
 St. Anthony resurrects a young man to make him testify in favour of the Saint’s relatives (D. Cattaneo – G.
Campagna, 1573);
 St. Anthony resurrects a young girl who drowned (J. Sansovino, 1563);
 St. Anthony resurrects his nephew (A. Minello – J. Sansovino, 1536);
 The heart of the dead usurer is found inside his jewel chest, according to the Gospel (Matthew 6:21): “Ubi est
thesaurus tuus, ibi est cor tuum”, which means “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. (T.
Lombardo, 1525). It is funny to point out that, using the English language, this story is much more effective:
the heart, in fact, is supposed to be found inside someone’s chest, which is a word that means both that part
of the human body and a large box used for storage;
 St. Anthony reattaches the foot of a young man (T. Lombardo, 1504);
 Aleardinus, an heretic, is converted by the miracle of the glass which remain intact after being thrown on the
ground (M. Mosca – P. Stella, 1529);
St. Anthony makes a newborn baby speak to prove his mother’s
faithfulness to husband (A. Lombardo, 1505);
Moving forward, there is the Cappella della Madonna Mora (Chapel of the Black
Madonna), which belonged to the ancient church of Santa Maria Mater Domini.
The statue on the altar, representing Our Lady with the Child, is a 1396 work by
the Gascon artist Rainalde du Puy L’Evéque, and Paduans have called it the “Black
Madonna” because of her dark complexion.
Just next to it is the Cappella del Beato Luca Belludi (Chapel of the Blessed Luca
Belludi), dedicated to St. Philip and James the Younger, built in the second half of
the 14 century. The Blessed Luca Belludi, whose tomb is under the altar, was the
A cloister of the Basilica
friar who succeded Saint Anthony. On the walls are painted a fresco, by the
Florentine artist Giusto de’ Menabuoi, the Stories of the Saints Philip and James the
Younger. Ruined by humidity, they have recently been restored and brought back to
their former splendour, allowing us to appreciate their considerable artistic level.
The ambulatory leads to 9 chapels, decorated at the expense of the Nations they
refer to. Arriving at half of the ambulatory, there is the 17 century Cappella del
Tesoro o delle Reliquie (Treasury Chapel or Relics Chapel), designed by Filippo
Parodi, one of Bernini’s pupils. It contains the most precious relics of St. Anthony:
his tongue (inside a gilded silver masterpiece by Giuliano da Firenze, made in 1436),
his jaw (inside a big reliquary by an unknown Paduan artist, made in 1350), his
larynx, the stone pillow used by the Saint during his last days.
On the left, before the balustrade, are displayed some objects found during the socalled “recognition of St. Anthony’s body”, which took place in January 1981, on the
occasion of the 750 anniversary of the death of St. Anthony, with the intention of
Figure 23 – Saint Anthony’s Relics
specifying the exact state of St. Anthony's remains: his tomb was opened, and the
content examined. In the Treasury Chapel there are: the Saint’s tunic, two wooden
boxes, the cord, two seals, three crimson red cloths reconstructed as a cope, two large decorated drapes, the plaque,
some small coins and the rings.
The decoration of the apse of the Basilica was painted at the beginning of the 20 century by Achille Casanova and his
assistants. Until 1649 the choir was in front of the altar, in the presbytery. This was its position in the majority of
churches which had a choir until the Council of Trent, and can still be seen in that position in Anglican churches; the
choir was then gradually moved behind the altar (its current position) so that the faithful could see the altar better
and follow the liturgy more closely. The actual stalls date back to the latter part of the 18 century, while the previous
stalls, a Gothic masterpiece by brothers Lorenzo and Cristoforo
Canozzi and their workshop (1462-69), were destroyed by fire in
The bronze Paschal candelabra is a masterpiece by Andrea
Briosco known as “Il Riccio” (the Curly), one of the greatest
candle-holders of the Western Church (almost 4 mt. high plus
the 1,5 marble base).
The High Altar is preceded by a red marble balustrade (1661)
decorated with the statues of Faith, Charity, Temperance and
Hope by Tiziano Aspetti (1593).
In 1895 Camillo Boito gathered here the various bronze
masterpieces by Donatello which have been spread in the
Figure 24 – The Crucifixion by Altichiero da Zevio
Basilica at the end of the 16 century. The composition of the
Altar was completely made up by Boito, so it must be quite
different from the original one, made by Donatello between 1446 and 1453.
The bronze decorations of the High Altar are:
the tiles representing 10 small angels and, in the middle, the Lamentation of Christ;
the tiles with the symbols of the Four Evangelists (Mark = lion, John= eagle, Matthew= angel, Luke = ox)
the statues on the altar, representing (from left to right) St. Louis of Anjou, St. Justina, St. Francis, Our Lady
with the Child, St. Anthony, St. Daniel, St. Prosdocimus;
the Crucifix;
the four panels illustrating four miracles of St. Anthony;
the Deposition of Christ (behind the altar)
In the right transept there is the famous Cappella di San Giacomo (Chapel of St. James). This beautiful gothic chapel,
whose construction started in 1372 as will of Bonifacio Lupi di Soragna (Parma), a very cultured knight and diplomatic,
was completed by one of the most important Venetian sculptors and architects of that times, Andriolo de’ Santi, and
decorated a fresco by Altichiero da Zevio (1377-78). The chapel's entrance has five tri-lobed arches. The eight lunettes
and a compartment of the chapel present moments of the life of St. James, the knights’ patron saint, as narrated in
the Legenda sanctorum or Legenda aurea by Jacopo da Varazze, a religious text concerning the lives of the Saints
which was widely disseminated for devotional purposes and influenced many artists of the past. The apostle is St.
James the Great (St. John's brother), whose shrine is Santiago de Compostela (Galizia/Spain), one of the most
important destinations of a Christian pilgrimage, especially in the 10 -15 centuries. Particularly remarkable is the
great Crucifixion, considered one of the greatest expressions of the 13 century art.
The Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento (Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament or of Gattamelata), which dates back to the
15 century, hosts the tombs of Erasmo da Narni known as Gattamelata (left side) and of his son (right side).
From the right aisle, near the sacristy, it is possible to reach the four cloisters passing through a little atrium decorated
with frescoes by Giusto de’ Menabuoi (14 century). After the Sacristy (on the lunette above the door, there is a
beautiful fresco from the second half of the 13 century, representing the Virgin and Child between St. Francis and St.
Anthony), is the 13 century Sala del Capitolo (Chapter Hall; Chapter = official meeting of friars) with ribbed vaults,
originally decorated by frescoes ascribed to Giotto. Unfortunately, only a few fragments survive today.
The cloisters are:
Chiostro della Magnolia o del Capitolo (Cloister of the Magnolia Tree or of the Chapter), which dates back to 1433. The
huge Magnolia grandiflora tree in the middle was planted in 1810.
Chiostro del Noviziato (Cloister of the Novitiate), made in the second half of the 15 century in a gothic style. It can be
visited only on demand, because it gives access to the cells of the novices (= the men who have entered the religious
order but have not yet taken final vows).
Chiostro del Generale (Cloister of the General), a 1435 Gothic-style work by Cristoforo da Bolzano. It is called so
because it gives access to the cells of the General, who is the most important friar of the Congregation.
Chiostro del Beato Luca Belludi o del Museo (Cloister of the Blessed Luca Belludi or of the Museum), which dates back
to the end of the 15th century. It gives access to the Antonian Museum.
Plan of the Basilica of St. Anthony
Altar of Our Lady of the Pillar
Chapel of the Saint’s Ark
Chapel of the Blessed Luca Belludi (or of St. Philip and St. James the Younger)
Chapel of the Black Madonna
Presbytery and High Altar
Treasury Chapel or Relics Chapel
Chapel of St. James
Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament (or of Gattamelata)
Chapter Hall
Cloister of the Magnolia tree (or of the Chapter)
Cloister of the Novitiate
Cloister of the General
Cloister of the Blessed Luca Belludi (or of the Museum)
Padova e provincia. Guide d’Italia, Touring Club Italiano, ed. 2003
Padua in the third millennium. History and Art, ed. Deganello - Razzolini, Padova