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University of Padova

Follow in the footsteps of former tutor Galileo at Italy’s second-oldest university and marvel at the very old permanent anatomical theater and botanical garden. 

Founded in 1222, the University of Padova has long been developing the young minds of Italy. Much of the campus lies within the 16th-century Palazzo Bo in the heart of the city. Join a guided tour of the palace for an introduction to the historic institution where Galileo was a tutor. 

Enter the Palazzo Bo and stroll through its imposing courtyard. The building dates back to the 16th century, although its foundations were possibly installed as early as the 1300s. 

Notice the circular wooden amphitheater in which anatomy presentations took place. From 1595 to 1872, students gathered around professors and watched them dissect bodies here. Chat with the docents for a deeper understanding of the university’s extensive history. Famous Paduan anatomists including Andreas Vesalius and Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente practiced here.

Visit the Aula Magna (Great Hall) and gaze up at the ceiling murals. One of the room’s highlights is the podium that was used by Galileo. Continue on the tour through the palace’s various rooms to appreciate the period décor and fixtures. 

Relax with a hot drink in the café and watch students go by in this busy spot. Pick up a leaflet in English for background information on the university. A few blocks to the west is the Hall of the Giants at Palazzo Liviano, known for its stunning frescoes. Head south to the university’s Botanical Garden, which is among the world’s oldest.

Note that guided tours of the palace are available Monday to Saturday at varying times. It is not possible to visit the site when the university is closed. Pay a fee to participate in the tour. Tickets are greatly reduced for young students. 

The University of Padova is located in the center of the city. Get a bus to the stops on either side of the Palazzo Bo or ride the tram to the Ponti Romani stop. See some of the neighboring attractions, including the Antenor Tomb, the Zabarella Palace and the Ragione Palace.


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