Discovering Padua

A compact guide exploring Padua with comprehensive descriptions, photos and illustrations.

Discovering Padua by T. Formenton. Photo by Archivio Medoacus and G. ghiraldini

Photos: Medoacus Archives, Giuliano Ghiraldini. Text: Tommaso Formenton. Graphic design, layout and cover: Ketty Righetto. Proof reader: Marina Doni. Acknowledgements: mons. Piero Lievore.

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Discovering Padua, intro

According to tradition, Padua was founded in 1182 BC by Antenor as he fled from the city of Troy; and archaeological research has revealed traces of early Venetic settlements dating from about the same period. From the third century BC, the Veneto population gradually merged with the Roman civilization which radically transformed the urban layout.

Patavium Roman Padua remained an important city until the onslaught of the Germanic and Asiatic tribes which brought about its collapse. The Lombards razed the city to the ground, forcing the surviving populace to emigrate to the lagoon of Venice.

Following their defeat by Charlemagne in the 8th century, Bishop Tricido was reinstated in the city and, for centuries, the bishopric was the only guiding authority in Padua until the founding of the Holy Roman Empire. Thanks to the defeat of Frederick Barbarossa in 1154, Padua gained its independence from the empire and became a free city-state where the arts and learning soon flourished and a university was founded.

In the 13th century the city experienced the tyranny of Ezzelino da Romano (1237-1256) and the deterioration of its municipal institutions. In the struggle between various factions, the Carraresi rose to power in 1337 in the person of Francesco I. The 14th century was a time of great innovation and artistic flowering as the whole city was embellished by notable contributions from a great many celebrated artists. The Carraresi dominion prospered within the Venetian sphere of influence until they attempted to enlarge and become a regional state.

This threatened expansion furnished the Venetian Republic with a pretext to destroy its unruly neighbour: in 1406 Venetian troops annexed the city and put an end to the Carraresi dynasty. From then until the fall of Venetian Republic, Padua shared the lagoon city’s vicissitudes and its fame grew as a centre of academic excellence thanks to the many distinguished academics at the University.

With the fall of Venice, Padua passed first to the Austrians and then to the French, in 1813 returning under Hapsburg domination until its annexation by the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. Since then it has been part of the Italian state.

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