Padua Unesco jewel thanks to Giotto and the fourteenth century pictorial cycle

Padua Unesco jewel thanks to Giotto and the fourteenth century pictorial cycle
Padua Unesco jewel thanks to Giotto and the fourteenth century pictorial cycle

PADOVA. After the temporary sigh of relief for the escaped danger of Venice, which Unesco threatened to include in the black list for the failure to resolve the Grandi Navi theme, Padua raises the Veneto region by earning the second seal, after the one awarded to its magnificent Botanical Garden, here the site.

The World Heritage Committee, gathered in streaming between Paris, Rome and China, has in fact included Padua and its fourteenth-century pictorial cycle in the list of sites considered a World Heritage Site. A choice (it also happened with the Prosecco hills) first opposed and then postponed, before today’s obvious approval.

Video. The applause at the official proclamation

Padova Urbs Picta is a World Heritage Site, the announcement of Unesco and the explosion of joy

Padua’s candidacy was the latest on the Committee’s agenda, which has now been meeting online for a few days with the spokesperson and management in Fuzhou (a Chinese city that should have hosted the entire session if it hadn’t been for Covid ), the technical offices in the Parisian headquarters of Unesco and each country connected by its own ministry of culture. For Italy, the connection point was in Rome, in via del Collegio Romano, in the presence of the mayor Sergio Giordani together with the undersecretary with delegation to UNESCO Lucia Borgonzoni.

Padua towards the Unesco seal, this is how the dossier was built


The mayor Sergio Giordani in streaming from the ministry in Rome exulted with “his” Padua, connecting to the large screen set up at the Palazzo della Ragione and thus addressing his fellow citizens and fellow citizens.

Padova Urbs Picta Unesco heritage. Mayor Giordani: “That’s why to rejoice”

“A historic day that rewards great collective work,” argues the councilor for culture Andrea Colasio, who, out of superstition, does not want to take the approval of the candidacy for granted.

Padova Urbs Picta World Heritage Site. Colasio: Today the city has mended its roots

“Certainly we have reinvented Padua: the candidacy process was functional to a sort of process that has restored a strong identity to the city – underlines Colasio – Padua today is a city of art, proud of its history and its golden century, dominated by lordship of the Carraresi. An identity that had fallen into oblivion due to the damnatio memoriae on the part of the Venetians ».


Mayor Giordani in connection from the ministry in Rome

Padua Urbs Picta’s candidacy is collected in a dossier over 500 pages long accompanied by more than 100 images to illustrate in detail the “exceptional universal value” of fourteenth-century frescoes. A dossier sent to Unesco in January 2019 and who then went through all the various stages of evaluation up to today’s proclamation.

There is not only Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel but also 7 other sites in a serial application which was promoted as a whole. There is the church of the Eremitani, which represents a real history of 14th-century Paduan wall painting, having been at the time among the most frescoed churches in the whole city: inside there are works by Guariento and Giusto de ‘Menabuio to remain with Giotto’s heirs , to then arrive at Mantegna in the 15th century with the Ovetari Chapel.

Franco Tanel

It’s still the great cycle of Palazzo della Ragione, the only one on which Unesco has had some doubts: the many frescoes that can be admired are after the fire of 1420 but recent studies have shown how the lower band is referable to the ‘300 in addition to the precious “Process of Peter of ‘Abano “, a true photograph of justice in the Middle Ages, attributed to Jacopo da Verona.
Then there is the masterpiece by Giusto de ‘Menabuoi preserved in the Baptistery of the Duomo: a space entirely covered with frescoes focusing on the History of Salvation, which culminates with Paradise on the dome. This is the first example in the history of female clients, having been commissioned by the wife of Francesco il Vecchio da Carrara, Fina Buzzaccarini.
Not far away what remains of the Chapel of the Carrarese Palace is now preserved in the seat of the Galilean Academy: there is what remains of the cycle with the “Stories of the Old Testament” painted by Guariento.

Not just a religious center, the Basilica del Santo is a real treasure trove of art because inside there are the first testimonies of Giotto’s presence in Padua, probably active in the Chapel of the Madonna Mora. But not only: in the Basilica there are the major protagonists of the history of the fourteenth-century Paduan fresco: Giotto, Giusto de ‘Menabuoi, Altichiero da Zevio, Jacopo Avanzi and Jacopo da Verona. Right in Piazza del Santo there is also the Oratory of San Giorgio, a sort of Scrovegni-bis, originally the funerary chapel of the Marquis Lupi di Soragna and now a masterpiece by Altichiero da Zevio.

The Oratory of San Michele

Finally, near the Carrarese Castle there is the oratory of San Michele, where the cycle of frescoes is commissioned to Jacopo da Verona, with the stories of the “Life of the Virgin” divided into five episodes. This is the last piece in the history of frescoes in the late fourteenth century in Padua where all the innovations (technical and not only) introduced by Giotto are brought to fruition.


Padova Urbs Picta World Heritage Site. Giorgio Andrian tells the adventure

The pride of the patavinitas will have to be rediscovered first of all by the Paduans. For which Palazzo Moroni will launch a major advertising campaign to relaunch the image of the great artistic masterpieces that make the city unique. And immediately afterwards it will be the turn of territorial marketing on the Italian tourist market (in a first phase given the persistence of restrictions for travel from abroad).

The goal is to use the Unesco brand to attract more and more visitors: pre-pandemic studies estimated 20% more tourists. Now the aim is to have many more.


Assindustria Venetocentro took sides in support of the candidacy from the very beginning. And today President Leopoldo Destro renews his membership of the alliance, giving it even more strength. “Inheriting such a precious heritage is like inheriting a company. We know that the challenge is to renew ourselves, to keep up with the times. Managing is not enough, we want to design and make the Unesco site project successful and then be builders of something important for the future, a horizon of well-being, health, liveability and sustainability », says Destro.

“It will be a unique opportunity to do so, making the most of the positive energies of citizens and institutions. It is an extraordinary lever of rebirth, also social and economic in all sectors, and of attractiveness of our territory, an indispensable competitive factor, enhancing creativity and capacity for innovation, civic participation, investment in skills, dissemination and sharing of opportunities“. Destro assures us that in this challenge «the business world will be there», and not only in the role of patron, but as a «social actor».


If Italy is the country with the largest number of sites recognized as a World Heritage Site, the Veneto with the latest seal rises to nine. Here on the Unesco Italy website you will find the complete list, but we have prepared this video sheet that tells you about the eight Unesco sites in the region.

Journey to the Unesco sites of Veneto: eight wonders of the world heritage

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