Some years ago I had chosen Padua – or like the Italian calls Padova – for a stopover. Unfortunately, it was only during my stay that I realized what beautiful places there are to discover in Padua. That is why I asked myself the question before my second visit to this northern Italian city: What do you have to see in Padua?
I can tell you some things. So take some time with you. Five places you should have visited or visited in Padua, I will introduce you briefly.
5 places to see in Padua!
- Cappella degli Scrovegni with the frescoes of Giotto
- The Orto Botanico – the oldest botanical garden of its kind
- Prato della Valle and the Basilica of Santa Giustina
- Basilica of Saint Antonius
- Palazzo Del Bo with Galileo’s Teatro Anatomico
Cappella degli Scrovegni with the frescoes of Giotto
If anyone asks me the question: What do you have to see in Padua? Then my answer would be: definitely the Cappella degli Scrovegni.
It is so special that there is even a system of its own to visit it. Only 25 people are allowed in the chapel every 15 minutes.
Since it’s not quite big, it makes sense. Unchecked visitor masses would diminish the experience of every visitor. So you get a lot more out of the visit.
However, you should not just go and buy a ticket. They could all be gone by then on a busy day or you have a longer waiting time. I bought my ticket online for a certain visiting time 48 hours before the visit.
If you have a ticket for the tour, you can use the waiting time to visit other nearby sights. Because there is only one combination ticket for 13,- Euro/person, which includes access to the Scrovegni Chapel, the Eremitani Museums and the Palazzo Zuckermann. All near the chapel.
Before you are allowed into the sacred halls – well, actually it is only one – they show you a video in the vestibule of the Scrovegni Chapel.
Small Sistine Chapel
Inside this formerly private chapel of the rich Scrovegni family you can admire dreamlike frescoes by the famous painter Giotto.
He made the Bible story between 1303 and 1305 and because of the fresco paintings, the chapel is nowadays also called the “Little Sistine Chapel”.
length of stay
- Scrovegni Chapel: approx. 40 minutes
- Hermits Museen: 1-2 hours
- Zuckermann Palace: 1-2 hours
Travel Tip: If you already know in advance when you are in Padua, you can also conveniently book your ticket for a certain visiting time via the Internet. But be careful! You’ll have to be there by then.
The Orto Botanico – the oldest botanical garden of its kind
The Botanical Garden of Padua is worth a visit. It is the oldest botanical garden of its kind in the world. It was laid out in 1545 and still houses, for example, the palm tree mentioned by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in “The Metamorphosis of Plants in 1790”.
This is not the only reason why UNESCO inscribed the Padua Botanical Garden on the World Heritage List in 1997.
The city centre of Padua, around the Basilica of Saint Anthony, is full of residents and tourists. The Orto Botanico, on the other hand, is an oasis of peace. Because of the large area I don’t meet too many visitors.
Different scents of the different plants and flowers get into my nose during a walk. The Botanical Garden is fantastically beautiful and divided into small parts. In some places benches invite you to linger under the big, old trees.
“Il giardino della biodiversità”
In the meantime, in addition to the historical part, most of which is outside, there are the large greenhouses. They adjoin the actual botanical garden. New and old are separated by the large rows of trees, so that the historical part is not crushed.
“Il giardino della biodiversità” opened in 2014. In it you will find 1,300 plant species from tropical regions. The special feature here is the climatic arrangement. In the large greenhouses you will walk through three climate zones and get to know the differences and special features.
Duration of stay:
- Orto botanico – historical part: 1 hour
- “Il giardino della biodiversità”: 1 hour
Basilica of Saint Antonius
The Basilica di Sant’Antonio is not just a sight in Padua. It is one of the most important sanctuaries in Italy. Therefore, as a tourist one should also consider the faithful.
It’s forbidden to take pictures inside. However, the signs are very small and I became aware of this only by the roughening of an unfriendly watchman.
The Pope has declared the Basilica of Sant’Antonio an International Shrine (sanctuarium internationale). Only eight churches in the world – and in Italy only the Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto in the Marches – have this distinction, which the Pope alone can make.
With this basilica Padua has a real superlative in the field of religious buildings. But why is that? The Basilica of Sant’Antonio, built by the architect Michelangelo Buonarroti, houses the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua.
The main destination for pilgrims in Padua is therefore the tomb of Saint Anthony, the reliquary chapel and the cloister.
But also structurally this church building impresses, whose architecture contains a mixture of different architectural styles – as for example the Byzantine one. The cloisters are particularly worth seeing.
Travel tip: The Basilica di Sant’Antonio is the most visited sanctuary in Italy due to its importance in the Catholic faith. Such a place is also very popular with pickpockets.
Duration of stay: 1 hour
Prato della Valle and the Basilika Santa Giustina
Prato della Valle is a huge oval square on the edge of the city centre. You will probably pass him during your stay in Padua. The square is beautifully designed and surrounded by 78 statues of Padua’s most famous citizens.
I was impressed by its size when I came from a side street in the city centre. He thus creates a large space in this city in northern Italy. With its 90.000m2 it is one of the biggest places in Europe.
Just put “I’Ilsola Memmia” in the middle and look at the beautiful palaces that line the edge of the Prato della Valle. Since it is illuminated in the evening, a short evening walk is worthwhile to see it illuminated.
The form, by the way, goes back to an ancient Roman theatre whose floor plans were discovered during excavations for a sewage system in 1775.
Basilica Santa Giustina
From Prato della Valle you can see the second impressive basilica in Padua: The Basilica of Santa Giustina. This basilica belonging to the Benedictine abbey is dedicated to the patron saint of Padua, Saint Justina.
Here is much less crowded than in the Basilica of Saint Anthony, in which there is only scurry everywhere. But there is also a lot to see here. In the basilica of Santa Giustina there are relics of the evangelist Luke and graves of some martyrs.
There are also some well-known works of art to admire. So a visit to the Basilica of Santa Giustina is a must for all believers or those interested in art.
And of course also for normal church fans – like me. Even as a small child I wanted to go on holiday to every church, my mother recently reported again. I did not become a churchman – but the interest in church buildings is unbroken.
Duration of stay: 1 hour
Palazzo Del Bo’ with Galileis Teatro Anatomico
Palazzo Del Bo’ was initially a palace. He was then taken over by a butcher, who turned it into an inn called Hospitium Bovis. As a sign it had an ox skull – from where the name Palazzo del Bo’ comes.
The inn was converted into a university building in 1493. This is now the headquarters of the University of Padua. Founded in 1222, the University of Padua is one of the oldest in Italy.
To visit the interiors of the university, you have to participate in one of the guided tours. They are held in Italian and English.
For 7,- Euro/person I watched the Sala dei Quaranta, the Sala di Lauree di Medicina and the Aula Magna Galileo Galilei. This is richly decorated with coats of arms and decorations. Almost 3,000 decorate this room.
Really touching the story that radiates these spaces. The Teatro Anatomico is very exciting here in Palazzo Del Bo’.
Galileis Teatro Anatomico
The Teatro Anatomico is located on the second floor of the building and is one of the most important rooms of the university.
The room contains the anatomical theatre where Galileo Galilei gave his lectures between 1592 and 1610.
The anatomical theatre in Padua is very well preserved and the oldest in the world. There is an inscription at the entrance: Hic est locus ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae. Translated, it means “this is the place where death gladly helps life”. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures here. Hence only such a picture.
Duration of stay: Guided tour about 45 minutes (if rooms are occupied, these are skipped and the tour is shorter – but equally expensive. Ask beforehand.)
What do you have to see in Padua?
As you can see, Padua offers many interesting sights that you can see during your stay. And here I haven’t even mentioned the dreamlike old town with its winding little alleys.
In the old town you will also find the famous Pedrocchi Cafe, Piazza dei Signori and Palazzo della Ragione. Oh, and so many more things to discover. Perhaps then soon in an article Top 10 Sights in Padua.