Palazzo Bo in Padua

Palazzo BoPhotography by Carlos Dorce

Palazzo Bo
Photography by Carlos Dorce

The University of Padua was founded in 1222 after a group of law students from Bologna arrived in the city. After Padua came under the rule of Venice in 1406, the University had a period of splendor to last for two centuries because the Venetian Senate granded Padua the monopoly of university education so nobody could graduate on the Venetian State from a university other than that of Padua.

In 1493, the University of Padua was placed in Palazzo Bo (“Ox”, in Italian). The current building with its courtyard was designed by Andrea Moroni in 1552. The name of the palace is because its proximity to a quarter traditionally occupied by the butchers. In 1405, Francesco I da Carrara who was lord of Padua, donated the former building to a butcher who had assured him of regular supplies of meat. The butcher placed an inn (Hospitium Bovis) in it and the emblem of an ox skull began to be famous in the city. Also dating in the XVIth century is the anatomical theater which remained in use until 1872:

Anatomical theater

The building is designed around a rectangular arcaded courtyard and the walls are full of important families and graduates coats of arms. In 1688 the Venetian Republic ordered that no new coats of arms should be affixes due to the great number of them which were in the walls.

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

When we arrived at Padua, the Palazzo Bo was closed but we were lucky because there was an act of homage and we could see the Sala dei Quaranta. This room takes its name from forty famous students of the University of Padua: the English physician William Harvey (1578-1657) and the Danish Thomas Bartholin (1616-1680) among them. These forty portraits were painted by Giacomo dal Forno in 1942. In front of them there is Galileo’s podium. According to the tradition, this podium was used by Galileo Galilei in his lessons in the University. It was located in the Aula Magna until the XIXth century when it was moved to the current location. Galileo Galieli taught at the University of Padua from 1592 to 1610, period in which he improved his telescope and made the first observations of the heaven together with the discovery of the four biggest moons of Jupiter:

Galileo Galilei's podiumPhotography by Carlos Dorce

Galileo Galilei’s podium
Photography by Carlos Dorce

The act of homage were placed in the Aula Magna which was the dining room of the old Hospitium Bovis. This Aula Magna was inaugurated on November 7, 1856 and Albert Einstein held a conference there in 1921.

In the XXth century, the wing for the Faculty of Jurisprudence was built and nowadays it’s possible to enjoy a sculpture dedicated to Galileo Galilei:

Monument to Galileo GalileiPhotography by Carlos Dorce

Monument to Galileo Galilei
Photography by Carlos Dorce

We can read in the pedestal:

Il Comune, il Rettore e il Senato Accademico dell’ Università di Padova posero nel quattrocentesimo anniversario della chiamata di Galileo Galilei alla Cattedra di Matematica.

Padova, 1992

Dono della Fidia Farmaceutici.

The reverse of the monument is dedicated to the Sidereus Nuncius.

Location: Palazzo Bo (map)


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