The 78 harmoniously arranged white statues welcome travellers from all over the world visiting the ancient city of Patavium every year.
Among the things to do in Padua, a visit to this square is an unmissable experience for every tourist visiting the city of Padua.
Prato della Valle is the largest square in Padua, and one of the largest in Europe. The fulcrum of the Paduan social life, thanks to the numerous events and activities that take place there, Prato is the true soul of Padua.
Prato della Valle, the great square of Padua
For Paduan people, Prato della Valle is more than a square: it is a symbol, a way of experiencing the city and feeling part of it. Non-resident students, Paduan families, lovers of jogging, every single Paduan resident has been to Prato della Valle at least once, both to enjoy some fresh air and to do some sport.
Prato is therefore the emblem of the city, the one lived and perceived as one's own, beyond the type of fun to which one is accustomed: we spend time in Prato della Valle on Sunday afternoon or Wednesday evening (the university evening in Padua), almost as if it were a tribute due to this splendid square in the centre of Padua, near which is the famous Abbey of Santa Giustina.
The Prato della Valle structure in Padua
Its surface of 88,620 square meters mean that Prato della Valle, in addition to being the largest square in Padua, is one of the largest in Europe. The central structure, called Memmia island, measures about 20,000 square meters and is elliptical in shape divided into 4 parts by two perpendicular roads.There is a canal around it and on its banks are a double ring of statues surrounding the square of which the circumference is 1450 meters. There are 78 statues: 40 in the outer ring and 38 in the inner ring, and their construction had to meet precise criteria: first of all, people who were alive or saints were not represented (those belonged to the various religious buildings scattered throughout the city), and all the characters depicted had to be linked to the city of Padua in some way.
The statues of the Prato della Valle outer ring
The first statue to be placed was that of a Trojan exile, offered to the city in 1775 by Andrea Memmo (undisputed protagonist of the history of Prato della Valle); the last one, that of Francesco Luigi Fanzago in 1838.
An important redevelopment work involving Prato della Valle both from a concrete and a symbolic point of view started in the 1990s. First of all, a new reorganisation of the vegetation allowed a greater daily usability by citizens, then the increase in public lighting allowed its use even in the evening hours.
Do not forget, then, the paved exterior around the island that makes possible some important sporting events in the city. Even the market, perhaps the most famous in the city, makes Prato della Valle a very important reference point for Paduan citizenship: 160 stalls and a characteristic and well-stocked antique market is held every third Sunday of the month; however, the first use (in Roman times) of Prato della Valle was that of a market space.
The market in Prato della Valle, one of the most important in the city
Prato della Valle, the vibrant heart of the city
There are also several events related to music and entertainment. Do not miss the concerts on New Year's Eve and Ferragosto (15th August) that attract local and foreign tourists holidaying in Veneto; often, even large sporting events are broadcast in Prato, by setting up giant screens. With its numerous events and imposing structure, Prato della Valle is therefore configured as the cultural centre of the city of Padua.