Don’t overlook the importance of the Duomo
While many visitors to Padova flock to see the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, and the Scrovegni Chapel, with its remarkable frescoes by Giotto, it is easy to overlook the outwardly plain-looking Duomo.
But Padova’s Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo dates back to the 16th century when a competition was held for architects to design a building that could compete with the Basilica of Sant’Antonio and the Basilica of Santa Giustina.
|Padova's 16th century Duomo.|
Among the architects who entered were Jacopo Sansovino, Michelangelo and Andrea da Valle
It is thought that Michelangelo’s designs won the competition but that the building work was entrusted to Andrea da Valle to oversee. However, over the centuries many other architects also contributed to the work.
The Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, referred to in Padova as the Duomo, was finally consecrated in 1754 with its façade left unfinished.
The nave is flanked by an aisle on each side and there are four chapels in the right aisle and five in the left with two great cupolas over the nave.
The Canons’ Sacristry to the left of the Presbytery houses a small, but very interesting art gallery.
The Presbytery contains two magnificently preserved organs by Gaetano Callida and down a flight of steps, the crypt holds the remains of Saint Daniel.
The present Duomo is the third structure to have been built on the site. The first was erected in 313 and destroyed by an earthquake in the 12th century. The church was rebuilt in Romanesque style and visitors to the Baptistery next door can see how it would have looked in the 14th century, as it appears in the frescoes executed at that time by Giusto dè Menaboui.
The north door of the current Duomo leads out to Via Dietro Duomo, the street behind the Duomo, where the building at Numbers 26 – 28 was once the home of the poet, Francesco Petrarch, while he was a canon of the Cathedral of Padua.
The Duomo has been the seat of the Bishop of Padova since the fourth century.