Padua (Lat. Patavium; Ital. Padova), a city of northern Italy, on the Bacchiglione river, 40km west of Venice and 29km southeast of Vicenza, with a population of 82,283 (1911). The city is picturesque, with arcaded streets, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione, which once surrounded the ancient walls.
The Palazzo della Ragione, with its great hall on the upper floor, is reputed to have the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe; the hall is nearly rectangular, its length 815m, its breadth 27m, and its height 24m; the walls are covered with symbolical paintings in fresco; the building stands upon arches, and the upper storey is surrounded by an open loggia, not unlike that which surrounds the basilica of Vicenza; the Palazzo was begun in 1172 and finished in 1219; in 1306 Fra Giovanni, an Augustinian friar, covered the whole with one roof; originally there were three roofs, spanning the three chambers into which the hail was at first divided; the internal partition walls remained till the fire of 1420, when the Venetian architects who undertook the restoration removed them, throwing all three compartments into one and forming the present great hall.
In the Piazza dei Signori is the beautiful loggia called the Gran Guardia, begun in 1493 and finished in 1526, and close by is the Palazzo del Capitanio, the residence of the Venetian governors, with its great door, the work of Falconetto of Verona, 1532. The most famous of the Paduan churches is the basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, commonly called Il Santo; the bones of the saint rest in a chapel richly ornamented with carved marbles, the work of various artists, among them of Sansovino and Falconetto; the basilica was begun about the year 1230 and completed in the following century; tradition says that the building was designed by Niccola Pisano; it is covered by seven cupolas, two of them pyramidal. On the piazza in front of the church is Donatello's magnificent equestrian statue of Erasmo da Narni, the Venetian general (1438-1441).
The Eremitani is an Augustinian church of the 13th century, distinguished as containing the tombs of Jacopo (1324) and IJbertino[?] (1345) da Carrara, lords of Padua, and for the chapel of SS James and Christopher, illustrated by Mantegna's frescoes. Close by the Eremitani is the small church of the Annunziata, known as the Madonna dell'Arena, whose inner walls are entirely covered with paintings by Giotto. Padua has long been famous for its university, founded by Frederick II in 1238. Under the rule of Venice the university was governed by a board of three patricians, called the Riformatori dello Studio di Padova. The list of professors and alumni is long and illustrious, containing, among others, the names of Bembo, Sperone Speroni, Vesalius, Acquapendente, Galileo Galilei, Pomponazzi, Pole, Scaliger, Tasso and Sobieski. The place of Padua in the history of art is nearly as important as its place in the history of learning. The presence of the university attracted many distinguished artists, as Giotto, Fra Filippo Lippi and Donatello; and for native art there was the school of Francesco Squarcione (1394-1474), whence issued the great Mantegna (1431-1506).
The industry of Padua has greatly developed in modern times. Corn and saw mills, distilleries, chemical factories, breweries, candle-works, ink-works, foundries, agricultural machine and automobile works, have been established and are flourishing. The trade of the district has grown to such an extent that Padua has become the central market for the whole of Venetia.
Padua claims to be the oldest city in north Italy; the inhabitants pretend to a fabulous descent from the Trojan Antenor, whose relics they recognized in a large stone sarcophagus exhumed in the year 1274. Their real origin is involved in that obscurity which conceals the ethnography of the earliest settlers in the Venetian plain. Padua early became a populous and thriving city, thanks to its excellent breed of horses and the wool of its sheep. Its men fought for the Romans at Cannae, and the city became so powerful that it was reported able to raise two hundred thousand fighting men. Abano in the neighbourhood was made illustrious by the birth of Livy, and Padua was the native place of Valerius Flaccus, Asconius Pedianus and Thrasea Paetus. Padua, in common with north-eastern Italy, suffered severely from the invasion of the Huns under Attila (452). It then passed under the Gothic kings Odoacer and Theodoric the Great, but made submission to the Greekss in 540. The city was seized again by the Goths under Totila, and again restored to the Eastern Empire by Narses in 568. Following the course of events common to most cities of north-eastern Italy, the history of Padua falls under eight heads: (1) the Lombard rule, (2) the Frankish rule, (3) the period of the bishops, (4) the emergence of the commune, (5) the period of the despots, (6) the period of Venetian supremacy, (7) the period of Austrian supremacy, and finally (8) the period of united Italy.
based on an article from a 1911 encyclopedia