The Scrovegni Chapel is a small chapel in Padua whose interior walls are covered by beautiful frescoes painted by the artist Giotto in the 1300s. The frescoes cover the life of Jesus, his mother Mary, and her parents.
Because the governement is concerned about potential deterioration of the frescoes, the number of visitors is strictly limited - you must buy a ticket in advance. Before entering the chapel, visitors spend 20 minutes in an adjacent room, where they watch a video while to room cools down to the chapel's temperature and hunmidity in order to reduce the potential for humidity and moisture damaging the frescoes. Visitors are only allowed to stay in the chapel for 20 minutes, and then must leave to allow the next group in. Also, you are not allowed to take photographs in the chapel.
Despite the hassle and short time allowed in the chapel, it is still definitely worth visiting, and was one of the highlights of our visit to Padua. The frescoes are amazing - not quite as amazing as the Sistine Chapel, but not too far off.
[photos to come]
The main feature is the frescoe walls done by Giotto from 1303-05. It depicts the sotires of Mary, Jesus through his life and the Judgment. The paintings are ringing around the chapel and on three levels for each theme. Above the main door is painting of the Last Judgment. Most have been restored to bring out the color of the paintings. This era led the way into the Renaissance period and new revival of art.
The chapel was built by Enrico Scrovegni to try and absolve the sins of his family for usury by his father, Reginaldo, who reportedly was the sinner in religious eyes. The land was a Roman arena and some columns are still out in the grounds. The building was in neglect for years and the portico and facade collapsed, adn the palace of Enrico destroyed. The Wiegand foundation sponsored restoration and the re-opening was in 2005. Besides the chapel, there is an adjacent and absolutely fabulous museum area (where you get tickets) with a video show of the chapel and history. There are also many archeological items and antiques from the Roman era. This was as impressive as the chapel itself
Entry fee is 12 Euro, or we got a Padova pass for many sites for 15 Euro. You need reservations ahead to purchase tickets and time slot allocated. We got reservations and ticket for Padova card on line, easily. then pick up at ticket office. You are to be on site 1 hour before entering. There are only 25 allowed to visit for each 15 minute interlude, and all need a 15 minute detox to cleanse yourself before entering. A good movie is presented in the waiting room
I made reservations while in Florence to see the frescos painted in the Scrovegni Chapel.
You must have reservations to see the chapel to be allowed inside and you must pick up your tickets at least 1 hour before your assigned time.
The chapel is in an outstanding state of preservation and you can easily see the frescos which have recently undergone a multi-million dollar restoration to remove centuries of dirt and soot to reveal the original colors used by Giotto over 700 years ago.
Once admitted (you are assigned a time), you sit in a hermetically sealed, air-conditioned room for 10 mins. to watch a brief film covering the history of the chapel.
After the film, you walk into the chapel and are only allowed to be inside for about 10 mins. before you are made to leave.
Photography inside is NOT permitted to help preserve the frescos.
Giotto painted the frescos in the chapel from 1303 to 1305 and they are considered to be the birth of modern painting techniques.
The chapel was built in 1300 by Enrico degli Scrovegni whose father was put in hell in Dante's "Divine Comedy" for usurery (money lending). Enrico can be seen in the "Last Judgement" fresco offering the chapel to the Virgin Mary.
The frescoes in the chapel follow three main themes, in three levels:
1) episodes in the lives of Joachim and Anna (Mary's parents)
2) episodes in the Virgin Mary's life
3) episodes recounting Christ's life and death
The lower parts of the walls contain a series of frescoes illustrating Vices and Virtues in allegory.
The frescos are still powerful and moving to see. The colors, play of space and visual imagery overwhelms but comforts you as you move around the chapel.
To miss the chance to see one of the best perserved masterpieces of Western art is a foolish thing to do.
It is essential to book a time for the visit to the Chapel which I had done online the day before. After waiting in the garden we were ushered into an antechamber and shown a video about the Chapel and its works while the Chapel was cleared of its earlier lot of visitors. Numbers are restricted and air locks are used in order to preserve the fragile frescos.
It is almost impossible to describe the effect of the frescos on me. They were so beautiful and human, while conveying a deep spirituality, and I left reluctantly after our allocated 20 minutes.
Scrovegi Chapel is situted on the plac eof the old roman Amphiteatre (the Arena) and holds the most complete cycle of Giotto frescoes! Unfortunatelly, I didn't have chance to see Chapel inside, it was close for public that day when i was there because they expected visit of Italian President next day. Chapel is part of Town museum fitted in an old monastery nearby. Thay have great colection of paintings... really worth a visit (if you have enough time). The nearby Ermitany church (XII ct.) has wonderful wooden ceiling but was heavily demaged during WWII and only few frescoes stay intact.