Padua / Surroundings



Already around 1000 BC, this town was a Paleovenetian settlement. It grew up along the banks of the river Adige, which probably, in the 6th century A.D., diverted in a more southerly direction owing to the famous Rotta della Cucca which is mentioned by Paul the Deacon. And it was here that the first true civilisation sprang up, a strong and dynamic culture which struck up trade links with the various populations to the north and south.

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In the 1st century B.C. 'Ateste' became a Roman military colony, after which, following the barbarian invasions and flooding during the Middle Ages, was left abandoned for a long period. Only at around the turn of the millenium did it undergo its transformation into the cradle of a new culture by the Estensi family, the ruling Dukes of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio Emilia. In the 14th century it passed into the hands of the Carraresi of Padua, and in 1405 to the Venetians, who left their imprint on the city with several typical buildings.

Today Este possesses many treasures which bear witness to its rich and varied past.

The first sight to strikes the visitor to the city are the imposing stone walls which encircle the city for around 1 km, punctuated by 12 towers and two keeps. Inside this 'stone embrace' we find the enchanting public gardens and the Atestino National Museum housed in the palazzo which the Mocenigo family erected in the 16th century on the site of the original castle. Many artifacts are displayed from Paleovenetian, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance times; these valuable exhibits, such as a Madonna and Child by Cima di Conegliano, make the museum one of the most important in Italy.

Other noteworthy sites include the church of San Martino (11th century), with its later leaning tower, the 18th century San Rocco, and the Civic Tower, reconstructed in 1690. In the majestic Cathedral of Santa Tecla, which was built on the ruins of an earlier pre-Christian basilica, Giambattista Tiepolo's masterpiece 'The Intercession of Santa Tecla' can be seen in the apse. The age of Venetian rule survives in the sumptious buildings in Piazza Maggiore, the main square.