Palazzo della Ragione is an imposing palace in Padua, located in the historical center of the city, between the Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta. The palace is famous for having the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe.
The construction of the palace dates back to 1219, and was intended to house the courts of justice and financial offices of the city, a role it played throughout the Venetian domination, until 1797.
The current shape of the palace is due to Frà Giovanni degli Eremitani who, between 1306 and 1309, raised the large hull-shaped roof and added the porch and the loggias covering the stairs. The roof was redone with larch trusses, without central columns and was covered with lead plates.
On August 17, 1756, a tornado devastated the large building, destroying its roof and uncovering it. Bartolomeo Ferracina, engineer of the Republic of Venice, best known for the construction of the clock in Piazza San Marco, rebuilt the imposing structure.
The courts of justice were transferred from the palace in 1797, and the hall was opened for large popular gatherings, anniversaries and parties.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The hall on the upper floor of the palace, known as il Salone, measures 81 meters in lenght, 27 meters in width and 27 meters in height.
The original frescoes of the hall, attributed to Giotto, were destroyed in the fire of 1420. The hall was frescoed again between 1425 and 1440 with a grandiose cycle of astrological paintings based on the studies of Pietro d’Abano, by Niccolò Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara.
The astrological theme is structured into twelve sections corresponding to the months, each divided into three bands of nine sectors. Each sector includes the representations of an apostle, the allegory of the month, the zodiac sign, the planet, typical occupations, professions and constellations.
On the lower band, the insignia of the judges are depicted, symbolized by animals, to which are added the cardinal and theological virtues, the patron saints of Padua (such as Saint Justina and Anthony of Padua), and important people of the Church.
In the hall, there is a gigantic wooden horse, a Renaissance copy of the monument to Gattamelata by Donatello, which currently stands in the courtyard of the Basilica of Saint Anthony, and two Egyptian sphinxes brought in the 19th century by Giovan Battista Belzoni.
HOW TO GET THERE
Palazzo della Ragione is located about 1.3 kilometers from the Padua railway station. The closest bus stop is located near the palace, on the bus Line U02. To find the palace on foot, use the map below.