The Padova Walls (in Italian le mura, pronounced leh MOO -rah) still standing and visible along the perimeter of the old town date back to different historical periods. Before studying to write this post, I obviously knew Padova walls, I saw them many times during my whole life, but the different construction periods and the location of some stretches were not clear to me.
They were built to replace the previous fortifications consisting of wooden poles and stone embankment works, made by the Paleoveneti (the previous and first inhabitants of the Veneto region). Of these Roman walls, only a few stretches remain in Largo Europa and via San Pietro.
Early Medieval walls
It seems that the Roman walls were torn down by the invading Hungarians in the sixth century and the stones were later re-used in the early medieval period to build new fortifications (eg the Torlonga, original nucleus of the Padua Castle, later Specola Observatory).
Walls of the communal period
After the Peace of Constance (1183) the communal period Walls were built, and completed in 1210. Of these walls several sections remain (near Porta Molino, Riviera Tito Livio and Riviera Mussato), along with two doors: Porta Molino (Via Dante) and Porta Altinate (between Piazza Garibaldi and via Altinate). There is actually also a third door, but it has been readjusted and it is therefore only in part original: Porta della Cittadella Vecchia, Gate of the Old Citadel (next to the Observatory, Vicolo dell’Osservatorio, Padova).
Moreover there are two towers left: Torre della Catena, Tower of the Chain (in Riviera Paleocapa, just barely visible along the river among the trees) and Ezzelino Tower (between via Petrarca and via Savonarola).
Built by order of the Carrara family in the XIV century, they incorporated parts of the city so far excluded: the entire south area (Santa Croce, Santa Giustina, Prato della Valle) and the Ognissanti area in the east. The few remaining traits are not visible (hidden behind or inside other buildings).
In 1405 Venice put an end to the Carrara dynasty. A century later, after having escaped fortuitously the siege Maximilian of Habsburg in 1509, the Venetians decided to improve the defense and adapt the Walls to the new artillery techniques. Below you can see many Renaissance Walls stretches (they once were 11 km long).
After the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy (1866) 15 breaches were opened here and there along the Walls to promote goods movement. Two doors, Saracinesca and Codalunga, were even torn down because considered to be obstacles to the vehicles circulation.
Long stretches were razed to create boulevards (along the Piovego towards the Portello Door or in via san Pio X), or to home gardens (Arena gardens, Codalunga and Santa Croce).
During the world wars people used ramparts and bastions as shelters. This led to a tragedy in 1944, when 200 people lose their lives at the so called Impossible bastion (which however hasn’t been damaged).
In the sixties, the construction of a new building and some clinics of the city hospital sadly erased another long stretch.
As for the Doors of the Renaissance Padova Walls, 6 are left:
- Savonarola (See on Google Maps: Porta Savonarola)
- San Giovanni (See on Google Maps: Porta San Giovanni)
- Santa Croce (See on Google Maps: Porta Santa Croce)
- Liviana, Pontecorvo (See on Google Maps: Porta Pontecorvo)
- Porta del Castelnuovo, Lungargine Piovego, Padova (water door, never used)
- Ognissanti, called Portello (See on Google Maps: Porta Portello). If you want you can read my post about Porta Portello.
I love Padova Walls, I like to stroll along them and I hope that the municipality will manage very soon to fix them up at best and make a proper tourist attraction out of them. What do you think? Did you like the walls while you were in town? Did you noticed them?