Prato della Valle is one of the largest squares in Europe (around 90,000 square meters). Andrea Memmo, administrator of the Serenissima in Padua in 1775, had the center of Prato della Valle transformed from an unhealthy marsh into a place of markets, shows, meetings and strolling in a very short time. The 78 statues that adorn the elliptical perimeter of the base that surrounds Memmia Island celebrate famous people born or lived in Padua, many of whom are still famous today, such as the mythical founder of the city, Antenore, the poet Torquato Tasso, or the scientist Galileo Galilei. Also admire the gallery of buildings surrounding the square, from the monumental size of the Basilica of s. Justina to the noble palaces up to the series of juxtaposed houses of different ages.
Prato della Valle has, from the very beginning, taken its place in the hearts of Padovans who frequently refer to it as Il Prato. At various times it was also known as valley without grass because the number of trees prevented much grass from growing there. Today, however, it is completely covered with grass, and many small trees.During the summer, the square is alive with large numbers of visitors who skate, stroll or study while tanning themselves in the sun. Summer evenings are marked by the presence of teenagers and young adults who chat until the early hours of the morning.
For several years, Prato della Valle has been the seat of the Padovan section of the Festivalbar, and recently it has played host to skating competitions, thanks to the wide asphalted ring which surrounds the square. Every New Year’s Day, and during the Feast of the Annunciation in mid August, parties with music and fireworks take place in the Prato.
The Abbey of Santa Giustina is a Benedictine abbey in the center of the City of Padua, facing the Prato della Valle, which dates from the 10th century. The abbey is attached to the Basilica of Santa Giustina, which was built in the 6th century. Its present shape derives from construction in the 17th century.
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