As we began to explore the city of Padua, and clouds began to fill the sky, it became clear to us that this was a very unique place. While not being a large city like Rome, it was certainly not a village, and had more of a metropolitan feel about it. Historical buildings sat next to more modern structures, and yet, the sense of history in the city was strong. People were vivacious, and because of the city’s history as a university town, the streets were full of people of all ages. The more that we walked the streets of this city, the more we fell in love with it. It had the perfect mixture of rural and suburban energy, and it seemed to radiate a love of life! We discovered that parts of the city were closed to traffic, as a race was taking place. We managed to catch a few of the runners, just as they were arriving at the finish line.
The Chiesa di San Clemente is found at the end of Piazza dei Signori, one of the main piazzas in the city. This is the site of a daily marketplace, where you can find all sorts of clothing and home goods. The daily food market is located in another piazza a short distance away, but more on that later. The Chiesa di San Clemente dates back to the 11th century. The three statues that you see on top of the church represent San Clemente, in the middle, accompanied by Santa Giustina and San Daniele. The two statues, in the niches of the facade lower down, represent San Giovanni Battista and Sant’Alò.
At the opposite end of the piazza, you will find the lovely Torre dell’Orologio. Built in the first half of the 14th century, the tower stands in-between two palaces: the Palazzo del Capitano, and the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. The clock on the tower is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. If you look closely, you will see that the symbol for Libra is missing from the clock. This is because it was made according to the pre-Roman zodiacal system, and Libra did not exist on its own, since Scorpio and Libra were thought of as one.
The Triumphal Arch was added to the tower in 1531, and is the work of Giovanni Maria Falconetto.
The column that you see, on the left side of the piazza, was erected in the mid-16th century. A winged lion, the symbol of the Venetian Republic, stands atop an ancient Roman column, which was discovered in the area in 1764. The lion we see today is not the original, but is one which was carved by Christmas Sanavio in 1870, after the original was destroyed by French troops.
Our first destination was the Museo Diocesano di Padova, which is housed in Palazzo Vescovile. This is a museum of religious art, located at Piazza Duomo, #12. Admission to the museum costs €4.00 for adults, and €3.00 for students and seniors. At the time of our visit, the museum was only open during the afternoon hours, from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. On Sundays, it is open all day. The palazzo that houses the museum dates from 1309.
Upon entering the Salon dei Vescovile, or the Hall of the Bishops, one’s breath is taken away by the majesty of the wall decorations, which are the work of Bartolomeo Montagna. Montagna painted the portraits that line the room, representing the first hundred Bishops of Padua. This is the room where important ceremonies took place, as well as where the bishops would hold audiences.
The Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angeli was built in 1495, by Lorenzo da Bologna. The fresco decoration in the chapel is the work of Prospero da Piazzola, and Jacopo da Montagnana. Montagnana is also responsible for the triptych on the altar.
Next up: We continue our visit to the Museo Diocesano, and then head to the Duomo di Padova!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations that may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from Padua, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!