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A visit to Padua is a fully fascinating experience. The origins of this city date a long way back in time.
Padua’s origins date back to the mists of prehistory. The Roman historian Livy attributed its origins to the Trojan Antenor in 1000B.C., though in reality by that time the area was already populated by a highly-evolved civilisation, skilled in commerce. In the 1st century B.C. it became a Roman municipality. Assuming the characteristic aspect of a city of the Empire, later in the Medieval age it evolved into the urban structure still visible in the centre today, with gated roads which led right through the city.
Visiting Padua will put you in contact with the highest virtues of Veneto and some of the best art masterpieces of all times. Padua is truly a living monument to all the epochs it has lived through, a casket which holds some of the most precious artistic gems from the last 2000 years.
Since 1222 it has been home to the prestigious university which quickly became one of the most important centres of learning in Europe, both in literature and science (witness Galileo).
To enjoy at its best one of the most characteristics sides of the city it would be advisable to organize a visit to Padua whilst university lessons are still running and the streets of the town centre are swarming with students wandering around or sitting in the pubs drinking the local aperitif, the so-called spritz.
Another particular facet of the city is its religious aspect, stemming from the providential intervention of the Franciscan monk Anthony against the spread of usury at the beginning of the 13th century. Beatified one year after his death the basilica of Saint Anthony was built to house his remains, an imposing spiritual monument blending several architectural styles – Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine, Moorish – which houses many splendid works of art. Today the church is a centre of pilgrimage from all over the world.
A simliarly sacred nature is manifest in the fresco cycle of Giotto, created at the beginning of the 1300s and to be found in the Scrovegni chapel. Near to the chapel, the Eremitani church displays important works by Andrea Mantegna and Giusto de’ Menabuoi, responsible also for the frescoes inside the Cathedral. Also recommended is a visit to the Eremetani museum complex, whose many exhibitions trace the history of the Paleovenetian and Roman epochs, to the Pinacoteca, home to Giotto’s wooden Crucifixion, and to the 13th century Palazzo della Ragione, the city’s tribunal which dates back to 1218. At Palazzo del Bo’, now part of the university, it is possible to visit the Anatomical Theatre, built in 1594 and still in use until 1872, and to see the lectern used by Galileo himself. Within the university’s edifice, the ancient courtyard and the Aula Magna are impressive sights. Finally, the botanical Gardens, dating from 1545, certainly merit a visit.
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