The city of Padua has a very long history and claims to be the oldest city in Northern Italy with its supposed founding in 1183 BC by the Trojan Prince Antenor after the war of Troy. The city of Padua exhumed a stone sarcophagus in AD 1274 which they say represents Antenor’s relics. The city participated in commerce with the Roman Empire and became a municipality of the empire around AD 45. The city suffered greatly by the attack of Attila the Hun in AD 452 and had a turbulent history under Gothic kings, the Byzantine Empire, and the Lombards. A fire devastated the city in AD 1174 which ruined much of its ancient architecture but a few examples remain in the city today.
Padua also has an astronomical clock that was first constructed in AD 1344 and rebuilt in the 15th century.
Padua was the setting for most of the Shakespeare play Taming of the Shrew.
It boasts one of the oldest universities in the world with the University of Padua that was founded in AD 1222 (almost 800 years ago). One of the entrances into an old courtyard has the coat of arms of many of the luminaries that have taught or attended the university.
It is a tradition for the friends of students receiving their doctorate to create a poster about their time at University. Daniele told me that the honored student then is supposed to read the whole poster out loud and has to drink any time they make a mistake in the reading of this usually humorous history of their time at the school.
The city has two large squares that are known as the herb market and the fruit market. These are gathering areas throughout the year, but also serve as market areas. We were touring the city on a Sunday night and many of the college students had recently returned to town from their homes and were meeting in the herb market. We were passing through at about 10pm and it was a very busy scene.
There were many famous people that resided in Padua and the city has erected 88 statues in a central park to commemorate their contributions to the city. One that I was most excited about finding was a stature for Galileo Galilei. He was apparently an instructor at the University of Padua for part of his career.
Dante (whose formal name was Durante degli Alighieri: 1265-1320) was born in Florence and held many important political posts there during his career. Because of political differences he was exiled for life from Florence in AD 1302 at the age of 37. He spent part of that time living in Padua in AD 1306. We walked by the house that he lived in during this time which has a plaque on the wall in memory of his use of this building.
Giotto (whose formal name was Giotto di Bondone: 1266-1337) was a prominent artist and architect that left his mark on Padua in the late 1200 to early 1300s. His paintings are still present in Padua and are a major part of the art and culture of the city.
During the Faschist time, Italy had dreams of becoming an Empire again. This map is from the 1940s and includes Libya, Ethiopia, and Somalia under Italian rule (along with a few other areas).
I was visiting Italy just before the Easter Holiday and I was curious to see how Italian’s prepare for Easter. I found some window displays that showed that they also have an emphasis on chocolate eggs (as is common in the states).
In another part of the city I passed one bakery that had very colorful merengues displayed in the window.
While I was trying to find my way to the Basilica of Saint Anthony, I came across a courtyard wall with a very simple climbing deterrent that I have not seen since my work in the Dominican Republic. They had embedded broken glass in the cement in the top of the wall. I would definitely want to avoid having to climb over that wall.
The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua is an amazing structure that dominates the center of town.
Work on the Basilica started around AD 1232 and ended in AD 1310, although the structure has been added on to many times through history representing many different architectural styles.