Padua – Day 2 – Part 3 – An Afternoon at The University

The Ponte Molino, pictured above, is one of the oldest functioning bridges, as it dates from the 1st century BC.  The bridge was restored once, in the Middle Ages, and then again in the 19th century.   It was built to provide access over the Bacchiglione River, as it winds its way through the city.

In the middle of the bridge, there is a small chapel that dates from the 16th century, and is dedicated to the Madonna del Molino.

At the end of the bridge, there stands the Porta Molino, one of the four city gates that provided access to the historical district.

A nearby plaque commemorates Attilio Galvani, a local barber who was also one of the founding members of the city’s Communist Movement.  Galvani was known for his anti-Fascist stance, and for this reason, he was killed on the 10th of August, 1944.

A plaque on the facade of the building, in Piazza Insurrezione,  which today houses the Mondadori Bookstore, honors the partisans who fought for the city’s freedom from the Nazi oppressors.

The Palazzo Bo dates back to the 15th century.  The building, as we see it today, is the result of a redesign and reconstruction that took place in 1550, under the direction of the architect Andrea Moroni.  In 1539, the palace was purchased by the University of Padua, and ever since that day, it has remained the historical seat of the school.  Visitors are welcome, but you must take a guided tour.  There are a few tours each day in English, and I highly recommend buying your tickets in advance, since the number of guests allowed on each tour is limited, due to the fact that this is still a functioning university, and some of the spaces you will be visiting are quite small.  At the time of our visit, tickets cost €7.00 per person.

The palace takes its name from the fact that it was built by incorporating an existing building on the site, an old hotel that used an ox as its sign, since it was located next to the city’s meat market, and thus lined with butcher shops.  Bo is the Italian word for “ox.”  The courtyard, which is where you begin your visit, dates from the 16th century.  The walls are covered with the coats of arms of students and professors who attended the university from 1542 until 1688.  One could spend hours looking at these alone, and I highly recommend taking the time to look at them, before or after your tour.

The first room we were taken into was the room where the students take their exams.  The student sits alone, at the table in the middle of the room, facing the questioning professors.

The Aula di Medicina was the main medical classroom.  Today, it hosts the graduation ceremonies for those students earning medical degrees.  The walls of the room are covered with paintings and frescoes that tell the history of medicine at the university.

Adjacent to this room, there is a small passageway, through which you enter the famous Anatomical Theatre.  This was the very first of its kind in the world.  The theatre dates from 1595.   One has no idea just how small and cramped it is, until you step into it.  You enter on one of the levels, above the slab where the bodies were laid.  It is not surprising that many students were overcome, when they first witnessed a dissection here, as the space is so tight that the heat and smells alone would have been enough to make most people change careers.

The Aula Magna, or the Great Hall, housed the Faculty of Law, and it was in this room that Galileo Galilei taught while in Padua.


Next up: We continue our tour of Palazzo Bo, and the University of Padua, and then, head to a food festival in the lovely Prato della Valle!


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!


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