<Back to cities in Italy

Padua/Padova, Veneto Italy

Better known as the city of St Anthony, Padua is one of the most important cities of art in Italy. Founded on Paleovenetian settlements dating back to over 3000 years, in a bight of the river Brenta, Padua is now a smart and dynamic city rich in wonderful examples of Medieval and Renaissance art. According to the legend, mentioned also in the Aeneid by Virgil, Padua was founded by the mythical Trojan hero Antenor, Aeneas’ mate. Since the 4th century B.C. it represented the most important centre of the ancient Venetian people. Later on, with the name of Patavium, it became one of the most prosperous cities of the Roman Empire. We only have few remnants of that period: the ruins of the great amphitheatre, some bridges and the precious evidences which are displayed inside the Eremitani Archaeological Museum. In fact, the city was razed to the ground by the Longobards in 602 A.D. and afterwards it was sacked and destroyed over and over again by other invaders among which the Hungarians in 899.

The recovery of the town, guided by the driving force of both the diocesan clergy and the Benedictins of the Basilica of Saint Justine, was rather slow. Only after the year one thousand, the town began to flourish again. With the Emperors Henry III and Henry IV it obtained important rights. Already at the beginning of the 12th century Padua was a free City ruled by consuls and with a collegial Magistracy.

During the following two centuries the city underwent a rapid development that in a short time led it to be one of the most important cities in Italy. Under the Seigniory of the Da Carrara family (1338- 1405) it reached the climax of its political power, extending its dominion over a large part of the central Veneto. From the 13th century and during the whole 14th century the town lived a period of extraordinary religious, economic and cultural fervour: were erected the Medieval City Walls, the great civil and religious buildings, among which the Basilica of St Anthony whose building works started in 1232; in 1222 was founded the University, the second most ancient in Italy, which beckoned professors and students from all over Europe