A real museum centre is located around the ancient Roman amphitheatre. The ruins of the Roman Arena (1st century A.D.) surround the Scrovegni Chapel, one of the greatest monuments of figurative art of all time, which contains, entirely preserved, the most complete cycle of frescoes by Giotto, painted by the Tuscain master in the first years of the 14th century (1303-1305). The Stories of the Virgin Mary and Jesus develop on the walls of the small chapel and end with the impressive fresco of the Last Judgement. In the nearby Eremitani Civic Museums complex, set up in the former Augustinian Hermits monastery, you can admire precious archeological finds dating back to the paleo-Venetian, Roman, Etruscan and paleo-Christian periods, and famous works of art produced between the 14th and the 18th century. Amongst them: the Crucifix by Giotto and the Angels by Guariento.
The nearby Eremitani Church, built between the second half of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th, has a wonderful wooden ceiling and several monumental tombs. Seriously damaged by air raids in 1944, it contains, in the Ovetari Chapel, masterpieces classified as Andrea Mantegna’s early works (1448-1457); in the presbytery, partially recovered, frescoes by Guariento (1361-1365); in the Cortellieri Chapel precious traces of the early Paduan works by Giusto de’ Menabuoi (1370). Close to the Eremitani complex, Palazzo Zuckermann houses both the Museum of Applied and Decorative Arts and the Bottacin Museum, an art and coins collection. From here you can see the Libeskind’s memorial “Memory and Light”, dedicated to the victims of the Twin Towers.
The Civil and religious centre
From Garibaldi Square you arrive to the promenade that the Paduans call “Liston”. Here, in Via VIII Febbraio, are located the historical Caffè Pedrocchi, Palazzo Bo, main seat of the University, and Palazzo Moroni, the Townhall. Caffè Pedrocchi, a neo-classic style building designed by the architect G. Jappelli and erected in 1831, during the 19th century was a famous meeting place for scholars and scenery of the revolutionary uprisings of the Risorgimento in 1848 by Paduan students. Today, it is one of the most well-known historical places in Italy. The rooms in the Piano Nobile were decorated between 1840 and 1842 by various artists with different styles (Greek, Roman, of the Renaissance, of Herculaneum, Moorish, Empire, Egyptian, Etruscan); a wing of the first floor houses the Museum of the Risorgimento and Contemporary Age.
The large group of buildings called Palazzo Bo, erected between 1542 and 1601, with modern addictions from 1920-1940, is the main seat of the University which was founded in 1222. Particularly interesting are the Old Courtyard by Andrea Moroni (mid-16th century); the Anatomical Theatre by Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente, the oldest permanent anatomy theatre in the world (1594); the Hall of the Forty with the chair of Galileo Galilei who taught in Padua from 1592 to 1610; the Aula Magna, decorated with a rich collection of coats of arms of the Rectors from 1592 to 1688. A monument commemorates Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, the first graduated woman in the world who obtained her degree at the University of Padua in 1678. In the early 1940s the rector’s office was submitted to remodelling works by Gio Ponti who took personal control over the choice of decorations and furniture, involving among others Arturo Martini, Achille Funi, Piero Fornasetti, Filippo de Pisis and Gino Severini.
In front of Palazzo Bo is located the Town Hall, with a 20th century facade dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the First World War, designed by Romeo Moretti and Giambattista Scarpari. From the courtyard you have access to the buildings of the complex: Palazzo Moroni with its hanging quadrangle, an upper court designed in the midfifteenth century by Andrea Moroni and the Medieval Palace of the Elders, with the civic tower. On the top of the monumental staircase there is a representative entrance to the Salone of Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason). The 15th century Sala dei Nodari (Chapel of the College of Notaries) inside Palazzo Moroni contains frescoes by Pietro Damini and an altarpiece by Domenico Campagnola. Going back to Piazza Garibaldi, from Altinate Gate extends “Borgo Altinate”. Along Via Altinate – one of the most ancient streets in town which retraces the north-eastern way of the ancient Via Annia that once led to Altino, milestone in the route to Aquileia – is located the Cultural Centre Altinate/San Gaetano. It is a city space dedicated to culture, situated near the Church of San Gaetano and resulted from the renovation of the previous Law Court which was before a Theatine monastery. At the end of the street, on the right side, stands Santa Sofia, the most ancient church in town which rose up on the remains of a Roman temple. Crossing Via Morgagni and going straight on into Via Belzoni, you enter the University Institutes zone.
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