Palazzo della Ragione was built in 1218 and a century later a portico-loggia was added to both its sides. It was the seat of the town courts of justice until the end of the 18th century. The first floor is represented by one of the largest Medieval hanging hall in the world called ‘il Salone’ that is 81m long, 27m large and 27m high. Inside, we can admire the walls frescoed with astrological subjects (1425-1440) which depict the theories by Pietro d’Abano (1250-1318); the imposing wooden horse built for a city joust in 1466; a wall medallion that portrays Giovanni Battista Belzoni, a Paduan archaeologist and explorer of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt; a contemporary version of the Foucault’s pendulum. The building overlooks the two great squares ‘Piazza delle Erbe’ and ‘Piazza dei Frutti’, which have always been locations for picturesque and lively daily markets.
In the nearby Piazza dei Signori stands the Loggia della Gran Guardia, completed in 1532 by Giovanni Maria Falconetto. The square is closed on the back by the Palazzo del Capitanio that at the end of the 16th century incorporated the preexisting Torre dell’Orologio with its astronomical clock invented by Jacopo Dondi in 1344 and reconstructed in the first years of the 15th century. The triumphal arch is a work by Falconetto (1532). Beyond the Arco dell’Orologio, in the wooded Piazza Capitaniato, is situated the 20th century building of the Liberal Arts University, the Liviano, designed by the architect Gio Ponti. In the entrance hall, frescoed by Massimo Campigli, there is a statue of Tito Livio by Arturo Martini (1942). The Liviano contains the large hall of the ancient Palazzo dei Carraresi, called Sala dei Giganti (Hall of the Giants) because of the sequence of huge figures of Emperors and Heroes which decorates the walls, a 16th century work by Domenico Campagnola, Stefano dall’Arzere and Gualtiero Padovano. The portrait of Francesco Petrarca is the only survived of the previous decoration, based on the same theme, painted in 1350 by Guariento, Altichiero and Jacopo Avanzo. In the nearby Via Accademia is located the Loggia of the Carraresi family, that at present is the seat of the Galileian Academy. In the room that is now used as reading library, while in origin it was the Carraresi’s private chapel, are still present 14th century frescoes by Guariento, the court painter.
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