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 Your Own Padova, a fascinating private tour of Padua!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Padua: Jacopo Marcello, the Captain who shouldn’t have died

Big Names

Ca’ Marcello in Piombino Dese, Italy is a beautiful eighteenth-century Venetian villa still inhabited today by the Marcello Counts, a...


Venice: What’s the traditional Redentore food?

Local Traditions

The number one traditional celebration, celebrated every year the third weekend of July, Redentore gives thanks for the end of the terr...


Venice: The village of Dolo and its inhabitants

Figures of speech

In the province of Venice there is a small village, Dolo, which doesn’t have a great reputation... The dialect expression ‘Ma te vi...


Venice: The crypt of the church of San Simeone Piccolo

Unknown places & works

As soon as you leave the train station in Venice, you will see the imposing dome of the church of San Simeone Piccolo, renovated in the...


Top posts

Padua: Prato della Valle in Padua

Historical Curiosities

Probably only the inhabitants of Padua and a few other people know of a particular record their city is boasting about: having the larg...


Treviso: Castelbrando in Cison di Valmarino

Unknown places & works

The province of Treviso offers its visitors many places steeped in history and imbued with charm ... One of these is definitely Castelb...


Venice: The tomb of Antonio Canova in the Frari Cathedral in Venice

Mysteries & Legends

When visiting the splendid Frari Cathedral in Venice a pyramid can be seen in front of the church… Why is such a ...


Venice: The Empress Sissi in Venice

Big Names

The Empress Sissi (1837-18989), the wife of Austria Emperor Francesco Giuseppe of Habsburg, has remained in the collective imagination ...