Historic Centre

Prato della Valle showing a sunset, heritage architecture and a river or creek
Delve into Padova’s compact historic heart and find a remarkable collection of architectural and cultural landmarks, connected by twisting cobbled streets and broad piazzas.

Padova’s Historic Centre (Centro Storico) is enriched by the city’s preserved monuments and modern energy. Get involved with the daily action of the city with lively markets, shops, cafés and bars.

The enormous Palazzo della Ragione dominates the district. Built in 1218, this imposing structure formerly housed the city court and a marketplace. The palace is surrounded by three major squares: Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza della Frutta and Piazza dei Signori. Wander around the piazzas to find Padova’s daily markets, which have been operating without interruption on this site for more than eight centuries.

Continue exploring to find Palazzo del Bò, the historic home of Padova’s university. The University Botanical Garden is among the world’s oldest botanic displays and is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site.

Another impressive structure in Padova’s historic skyline is St. Anthony’s Basilica, a Byzantine-influenced Romanesque edifice built to house the saint’s remains. Nearby, St. George’s Oratory contains an exquisite collection of frescoes. See one of the city’s most prized frescoes in Scrovegni Chapel, which is connected to the Eremitani Civic Museums and the 13th-century Church of the Eremitani.

Don’t miss a visit to one of Europe’s largest town squares, Prato della Valle. Formerly a Roman theater, this 18th-century masterpiece features a canal lined with statues. The scene is completed by the superb architecture of the adjoining Basilica of St. Giustina. See Michelangelo’s touch in the interior design of Padova’s Duomo, which also has a beautiful baptistery. Explore the winding alleys of the Jewish Quarter and find a collection of art galleries and workshops.

The Historic Centre in Padova is the heart of the city and easy to reach via light rail and bus however, it is best explored on foot. Stop off in the district’s bars, cafés and restaurants for quick refreshments or a meal. As evening falls, head to one of the Historic Centre’s piazzas to enjoy an Aperol spritz or other aperitif with the locals.

Popular places to visit