Padua, a city of ancient origins between history and legend, home to one of the longest-lived universities, today is one of the most important cities in the Veneto region, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, especially for pilgrims from all over the world visiting the basilica of Saint Anthony, patron of the city.
Padua is located a few steps from the city of Venice (known as the Serenissima) and many tourists choose to visit the city on a day trip from Venice.
In this article we tell you about Piazza dei Signori, the centre and beating heart of the city and among the must-sees of the city of Padua.
Piazza dei Signori in Padua
Piazza dei Signori, one of the main squares in Padua, owes its fame to the Palazzo Capitanio and its famous Clock Tower, but also to the fact that it is one of the main hubs of the life of Padua within the historic centre.
Piazza dei Signori is one of the main squares in the historic centre of Padua and is one of the meeting and most vital spots of the entire city: taking a walk here, as well as in Piazza delle Erbe or in Piazza della Frutta, means experiencing the true everyday life of the city, during the day but also in the evening, when, especially in the spring months, it becomes one of the main centres of the Paduan nightlife.
Piazza dei Signori owes its name to the fact that Palazzo della Signoria once stood here and its history encompasses the history of Padua: first called the "Desolation" square for the ruins of the buildings that the opposing factions destroyed one another, then the square of “triumphs” for the sumptuous festivals that were celebrated there, the square was also the scene of the call to arms by Father Alessandro Gavazzi to free Veneto from Austrian domination in 1848.
The square is enclosed, on the two major sides, between two rows of arcaded houses; it is also delimited by the Church of Saint Clemente and Palazzo Capitanio and crossing it you reach another beautiful Paduan square: Piazza Capitaniato.
The church of Saint Clemente in Piazza dei Signori
The Church of St. Clemente dates back to 1190, and is cleverly incorporated into the surrounding houses; it rises, not by chance, in the centre of the main squares, and its façade was built during a restructuring project that the Republic of the Serenissima designed for Piazza dei Signori; this façade currently comprises some pilasters and a large tympanum with the statues of St. Clemente, St. Giustina and St. Daniele. On the other hand, the interior consists of a single nave with a square apse and side altars, two of which are dedicated to the "orési" (goldsmiths) and the "casolini" (sellers of cheese and cheese specialities).
On the opposite side, you can admire the fantastic Palazzo del Capitanio, the ancient residence of one of the two Venetian captains of the city. The building is divided by an ancient tower surmounted by an octagonal-shaped drum, which supports a dome made of lead plates; the main changes that made the building - built on the area of the former Reggia dei Carraresi - as we see it, were made between 1426 and 1430, when Giorgio da Treviso decorated it with paintings and proceeded with gilding the dial and winged lion on the clock.
The clock tower of Padua
Just the Clock Tower deserves a special mention. In fact, in 1532, Giovanni Maria Falconetto was commissioned to redesign the façade that, following the canons of the sixteenth century, was redesigned in the shape of a round triumphal arch. The monument that leads to Piazza Capitaniato, built in Istrian stone, consists of four Doric columns with two Winged Victories inward; a little further up, on the attic, there is a splendid Lion of San Marco.But the main attraction of the Tower is the astronomical clock, built in 1477 by Giovanni and Giampietro delle Caldiere from Vicenza who, based on Giovanni Dondi's astronomical clock, decided to make a similar one that would not only mark the hours and minutes, but also the day, the month, the phases of the moon and even the 'astrological place'.
A piece of trivia that the most attentive visitors surely notice is that the zodiac sign of Libra is missing on the Clock since there is no official news on the motivation of this 'impairment', all that is left to do is listen to the popular tradition according to which it was out of spite of the two manufacturers towards the customers who had not paid them the amount they had initially agreed.