Padua is a vibrant city, home to some unique architectural and artistic treasures, such as Saint Anthony's Basilica and the Scrovegni Chapel. Its millennia-old history blends remarkably with the lively and modern atmosphere that characterizes it, making it one of the most captivating cities in the Veneto region.
But what are the must-visit destinations for those exploring the “city of the Saint”? In this article, we recommend 5 unique places to visit in Padua, featuring a mix of well-known attractions and hidden gems.
The “twin” Basilicas
Just a few hundred meters apart, the Basilica of The two Basilicas are often mistaken for each other due to their numerous domes and imposing structures. In reality, they house entirely different artistic treasures, but both are worth a visit.
Saint Anthony's Basilica, being one of the largest basilicas in the world, is a destination for international pilgrims and home to the famous “Treasure Chapel”, a baroque architectural gem that houses the most precious relics of the Saint.
St. Justine's Basilica, on the other hand, is known for its many architectural beauties and valuable works of art, such as the sarcophagus of Saint Luke the Evangelist, the Corridor of the Martyrs, and the Sacellum of Saint Prosdocimus. Additionally, it houses a sixteenth-century copy of the Madonna Constantinopolitan, considered the oldest Marian image in the city.
If you have visited St. Justine's Basilica, you cannot miss taking a stroll in Prato della Valle, Padua's main square and one of the largest in Europe. Characterized by a large central green island, its beauty is also owed to the water ring that surrounds it, along the perimeter of which you'll find two rows of statues depicting illustrious historical figures.
Walking across Prato della Valle is undoubtedly a captivating experience... but not always easy: in fact, from Monday to Saturday, there's a market that occupies the entire square, with stalls dedicated to food products, plants and flowers, footwear, and much more.
A place of peace and science, where you can admire hundreds of plant and flower species. Founded in 1545, it is considered the oldest botanic garden still in existence in the Western world in its original form and location. Since 1997, it has been a part of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
In addition to the large outdoor area, freely accessible, we recommend a visit to the Biodiversity Garden, a highly technological structure that contains reproductions of four biomes capable of hosting over 1,300 plant species from every corner of the world.
The central squares
The central area of Padua is the most vibrant and colorful, both because it hosts its three main squares (Piazza dei Signori, Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta) and because it's a marketplace. Additionally, it's a destination for numerous university students who live and study here.
From its most famous cafes like the Pedrocchi to its historic palaces such as the Palazzo della Ragione, the Bo, and the Liviano, this area can be comfortably explored on foot in just a few minutes. Whether you're looking for a relaxing stroll, a bit of shopping, or a visit to its famous attractions, this area has it all.
The area where the Scrovegni Chapel is located is part of the Civic Museums of Padua, but you may not have time to visit it all. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend not skipping a visit to this almost surreal place, where one of the absolute masterpieces of Western art shines: the fresco cycle created by the painter Giotto.
Officially reopened to the public in 2002 after a complete restoration, the Chapel can be visited only after spending about 15 minutes in a specially equipped space for dehumidification and dust purification. This small sacrifice is well rewarded by the extraordinary beauty of the interior.
Our recommendations stop here for now, but your journey continues on Audiogiro: Padua is waiting for you!