Walking the relatively short thirty minute walk from the train station through the narrow streets of Padova coming into the massive Prato Della Valle is quite a shock. Said to be the second largest public square in the world behind the Red Square in Europe. I certainly would not question it. However on a clear day just adjusting your eyes to the wide open space of the Prato takes some time. The massive concrete, the water, the countless statues and the large number of people suddenly takes time for it to sink in. Walking the square takes time. However every few yards there is something interesting to look at either on the central square or with the surrounding buildings.
Checking the travel books this square was first set aside by the Romans as a place for military training and large public gatherings. During the Middle Ages the area was the courtyard of a church. Later the square became the place for the watching of large theater productions.
Crikey...this 'square' (actually an ellipse) is huuuuuuuuge!
In fact, it's supposed to be the second largest in europe...and I ca quite believe that it is.
When we finally arrived at Prato della Valle we were both stunned by its size and, for that reason alone, it is well worth wending your way through the historical centre of Padova to find it.
The Prato is based on the original Roman amphitheatre, although there is now nothing to see of that. There are two concentric rings of statues, all of worthy past Padovans, and a circular water feature.
The 'square' itself has several interesting buildings facing onto it, as well as the vast Basilica di Santa Giustina (one of the world's largest churches) which we simply did not have time to explore.
The central grassy area was full of students (school and university) when we wandered through...I suspect it is full of students much of the time!
On Saturdays there is a large market here. But market or no market, Prato della Valle is definitely worth seeing.
The bigger square in Padova and one of widest in Europe.
This square have a round island in the midle, surrounded by a canal. There ae four bridges to walk through. The canal is decorated with a double ring of huge statues, 78 at all, representing famous people. The island is all green planted with nice tree.
The municipality use this place to organize events, there is fireworks on new year eve and on 15 August. But it is just a very nice place to go for a walk, enjoy the green and have a coffee or an ice cream.
During Saturday there are a huge market where you can find clothes, shoes, flowers and plants.
Try to go at night, it is a excellent place to take picture, the statues are all lighted up and make wonderful reflections in the canal in the center of the square.
In Roman times, this square was known as the Campo Marzio, the social center of the city. It was built around the Zairo theater, whose remains continued to stand here for centuries after the fall of Rome. In 1775, Governor Andrea Memmo commissioned the architect Domenico Cerato to design an elliptical public space with an island in the middle. Along the moat, he had statues erected of Padua's most distinguished citizens. It is still the main center of Padua.
The Prato della Valle is an enormous piazza that was begun in 1767 after the marshes were drained. It consists of a central island surrounded by a canal with four bridges and 78 statues of illustrious men of Padova. It is the largest square in Europe.
If you visit Padova you will undoubtedly see Prato dell Valle as it is the center of Padova. The buses and tram circle the area, and the big market on weekends, any festivals that might be scheduled, and concerts will take place here.
Padova has many websites that list any festivities, so you might google padova and check on the itineraries for the month you are visitiing.
You can walk north of this piazza and go along the "no car" street to the 3 smaller piazzas and the big market building. Also near these piazzas is the University area called the Bo, and if you are lucky you will see some graduates going through the final steps of graduating where they wear funny costumes and read a short dissertation on themselves. There are two musicians that follow them around playing music and their friends and family gather near them when they are reading and hoping not to make a mistake. If they do, they have to take a swig of some high powered liquor as punishment.
I like to think of this area as a place to go and relax, have a coffee and watch the people. I sit near the flower seller area, which makes a nice background to my watercolor sketches.
It's hard to imagine that this attractive landmark of Padua was originally swampland.
In 1775, Andre Memmia - the patrician of Padova aka "The Provider of Padova" declared a programme of reclamation and restoration.
During excavations, ruins of an ancient Roman theatre were found.
"The Square" as the area is popularly known, contains a grassed island - L'Isola Memmia, which is surrounded by a water filled moat, crossed by four stone bridges.
The inner and outer 'banks' of the moat are surrounded by 78 stone statues, each representing a famous citizen of Padua, or someone with connections to the city. One of the statues is of Memmia himself.
Surrounding the moat is a pathway, then a broad roadway that encircles the square. This is popular with joggers, rollerbladers and cyclists.
At 90, 000 sq metres, this is the largest square in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe - possibly only second to Moscow's Red Square
New Years Day and the Festival of Annunciation each August a party is held here with music and fireworks
Prato della Valle originally had so many trees growing, that very little grass was able to grow. Now, all but one of the original trees has died, so there is plenty of grass for the many students, workers and visitors to sit on.
I first saw this impressive square on the Sunday, when a lively market was held. I only saw a small part of the market as not realising this was just held on the last Sunday of each month!,
I'd planned to go back later in my stay. Hmmm- I'm now regretting not buying one of the old posters that I'd liked.
One of my favourite visits to 'The Square' was at sunset, when the sun, statues and clouds were reflected in the water.
I sat for quite a while entranced by the sight of the reflected clouds which appeared to be underneath the water.
This is the largest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.It is located in the center of the city from which all sights of Padua are near.One of the nicest and cleanest cities I have ever been to.Visit Padova!
'Prato della Valle' is a huge oval form square surrounded by the channel. There are many sculptures on the channel sides. These sculptures are representations of culture and art personalities.
The third Sunday of every month there’s an open air market here.
The traditional site for fairs and entertainments was reclaimed in 1775 by Domenico Cerato, by order of Andrea Memmo. It is a square of great scenographic appearance, decorated by a canal with four bridges and by 78 statues of famous men. This 90,000 m² elliptical square is believed to be the biggest in Europe, after Red Square in Moscow The third Sunday of every month there’s an open air market here
Prato della Valle (literally "meadow of the valley") is a huge oval area south of the city centre is said to be the largest "square" in Europe. The area served as a theatre in Roman times but it deteriorated into an unhealthy swamp until, in 1775, it was transformed into a grand 22-acre park. The area features an oval moat in which 4 bridges span over it so that visitors can reach a central island of grass and paths. At the edges of the moat are 78 statues of foreign sovereigns and important figures in the town's history.
you know you are someone special in Padova when they erect a statue to you here !
Once this was a Roman amphitheatre, since 1775 it has been a wonderful piazza, the lagest in Europe, where a canal surrounds a grass oval crossed by paths,
around the canal stand 78 white marble statues of great people from Padovas history, from a distance it looks like a gathering of pale townspeople, close to the effect is stunning
now it is a place of fairs and special events, and it is used daily by the people of Padova as somewhere that children play, elderly people and footsore tourists sit and rest, and lovers meet
Padovans and their dogs come to Prato della Valle on weekends to relax and socialize. The 78 statues of famous Padovans appear to be carefully monitoring the " decadent " activities. Prato della Valle was established about 800 years ago, but the site has served as an entertainment venue since ancient Roman times.
In the background is the basilica di Santa Justina, which has dominated the piazza for more than 600 years. Shown in the photo are all 8 domes of the incredible basilica.
Notice the numerous trailers parked between the prato and the basilica. They did not belong to the saint seeking pilgrims. There was something resembling a large weekend flea market in full swing. Merchants sold everything from art antiques to junk to gelato ( ice cream ) from these trailers. Definately an added bonus for weekend visitors to Padova.
Prato della Valle near Basilica di Santo Antonio is said to be the largest public square in Italia. It owes its elliptical shape to the ancient Roman ampitheater that once occupied the site. The square is surrounded by a water filled moat. Access is by the bridge shown in the photo. Shown are a few of the 78 statues of famous Padovans adorn the periphery of the square. ( I cannot name any of them ). In the background on your left is a surviving piece of ancient roman Padova, the triumphal arch. It is about 1800 years older than Napolean's copy in Paris.
Prato della Valle is now the favorite gathering of locals & students at Padova's famous 800 year old university. Concerts, plays, political rallies, etc. are often held there. I enjoyed a good concert there that very evening. I was feeling pretty good when I caught the late night train to Venezia afterward. In my condition I was lucky to find my way to the train station.
'Prato della Valle' is a huge oval form square surrounded by the channel. There are many sculptures on the channel sides. These sculptures are representations of culture and art personalities. The third Sunday of every month there’s an open air market here