Hidden treasures

The Anatomical Theatre at the University of Padua

Unknown places & works

The Anatomical Theatre at the University of Padua

The University of Padua, founded in 1222, is one of the most important symbols of culture in Italy... There are lots of places to discover inside!

Among the most fascinating, there is undoubtedly the Anatomical Theatre, located in Palazzo del Bo.

It was the anatomist and surgeon Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente who conceived it 1594. Completed in 1595, the building is the first example in the world of a permanent anatomical theatre, created for teaching anatomy through the dissection of corpses. Designed according to the stylistic canons of the Renaissance, the theatre has not been altered over time, therefore you can still admire the original sixteenth century structure!

Contrary to popular belief, the practice of dissection of corpses was not prohibited by the ecclesiastical authorities, so much so that, at the entrance of the anatomical theatre, you can still see the Latin inscription 'Hic est locus ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitam', ie 'this is the place where death delights to help the living’.

The bodies which were to be used for autopsies were delivered to the University by the judicial authorities: though not exclusively, they were often the corpses of executed people. In order for lessons to be held regularly, so-called 'stewards' who had the task of procuring the necessary corpses were appointed. Once executions started to become rare, the Anatomical Theatre ceased to operate.

You can visit the Anatomical Theatre by taking a guided tour of Palazzo del Bo, the historic home of the University of Padua, or by booking our Padua private tour with access to the Anatomical Theater!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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