gallery of the Palazzo della Ragione in the centre of Padua

Padua as a city is actually a bit disappointing, but there are still plenty of reasons to visit, not in the least the richly decorated baptism chapels.

one of the few remaining canals in Padua, just outside the historical centre

terrace in one of the narrow streets

Padua is a city of arched galleries

ready for business, Piazza della Erbe

fresh fruits in the market, Piazza dei Signori

oh, and the mushrooms!!

I suppose every city you visit immediately after Venice is going to be a disappointment. Padua is nice, has a lovely historical centre, with lots of lovely squares, and notably, lots of arched galleries along many of its streets. The squares are occupied by market stalls in the morning, and in the afternoon they are being transferred into big terraces, where the student community congregates with a spritz cocktail – dark red Campari, but more often bright orange Aperol. But it is not Venice. The houses are blocky, they lack the sophistication of the Venetian palaces, and even of Venice’s regular housing. And the squares, surrounded by impressive buildings all right, but they lack the atmosphere we found in many of the smaller Venice squares. Perhaps unfair to Padua, but wandering through town was, let’s say, nothing really special (and in retrospect, not only compared to Venice; when we went to Vicenza afterwards, this, too, had much more charm than blocky Padua).

Aperol spritzer, popular cocktail

inside of the Scrovegni chapel

Capella degli Scrovegni, world famous chapel, with modern sculptures in the garden

with a huge fresco over the altar

of which part depicts hell

Having said all this, we did find some absolute treasures in Padua, not in the least its most famous one, the Scrovegni chapel. For which you normally have to book several days in advance, as they don’t let more than 25 people in, per 15 minute time slot. Our group was 10, we booked the evening before. And what a fabulous experience it was, those 15 minutes in a chapel, completely frescoed from top to bottom, across the walls and the ceiling, wherever you look. I will post some further pictures seperately, at a later stage.

the other chapel, Battistero del Duomo

also impressively painted

like here some playing children, no doubt also symbolic

lots of bible scenes, as is customary

the nice thing is to focus on the details

Similarly impressive, but much more low-key, was the Battistero, the baptistry chapel, on the side of the rather sterile, bright Duomo of Padua. In contrast to the Duomo, the chapel is again fully frescoed on all sides, smaller than the Scrovegni, but also impressive – and in this case there was nobody else here, no booking needed, no obligatory acclimatization before entering the chapel, it was just me, staring at the paintings all around me.

and the more standard fresoes, on the ceiling

the impressive Pallazo della Ragione

with its huge inside ‘salone’

and its frescoes on the ceiling in the arched galleries

inside, a 24-hour clock (instead of the now usual 12-hour version)

this is another 24-hour clock, at the Piazza dei Signori

a resting point for many, not only the dead and famous

row of sculptures around the Prato del Valle square

view of the Basilica de Sant’Antonio, behind the Orto Botanico

the old part of the Orto Botanico, with fountain and flower beds

the modern greenhouse in the Orto Botanico

with lilly leaves in the pond

bright tropical ferns inside

and – inside – even some flowers

And, to be fair, there is more to Padua. The large Palazzo della Ragione, in the centre of town, the Prato del Valle, the largest square in Italy, with in the middle an elongated island surrounded by sculptures of important people, many topped by pigeons, and the Orto Botanico, the botanical gardens, part historical – walled, and of touchingly primitive subdivision in plots – and part hyper-modern, with five climatized sections from tropical to temporal, housing a whole range of biospheres. October is not the best time to visit a botanical garden in Europe, the flowers were rare, but the complex – and the contrast – was impressive.

angel at the top of the Basilica de Sant’Antonio

painted roof inside, in a bit of detail

So, in the end, no regrets, spending time in Padua. But let’s not compare it to Venice and Vicenza.

Next, a day outside Padua.

and the basilica’s door outside

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2 Responses to 05. Padua

  1. Thea Oudmaijer says:

    Gelukkig waren er mooie chapels??
    En …… alle steden zijn geen Venetië.

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