La Specola

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La Specola Tower is one of the best-known symbols of Padua, but also a very representative monument to the history of the city. A clue is given to us at the entrance, where verses from Abbot Toaldo testify to the radical change in function that the tower has undergone over the centuries:

“This tower, which once led to the infernal shadows, today opens, under the auspices of the Venetians, the way to the stars. »

The story
In medieval times, the Specola Tower was the highest point of the castle built by Ezzelino III da Romano, tyrant of the city from 1237 to 1256, to be the nerve center of the defensive walls of the 13th century city. It is said that inside the Torlonga, the original name of the tower, the worst tortures were inflicted on the sovereign’s prisoners.

The advent of the Carraresi brought many changes to the city, notably in 1374, with the reconstruction of the castle and its interior and exterior decoration. The tower then assumed a purely military function and it would take a few centuries for it to be definitively transformed. In 1761, the Venetian Senate decreed the creation of an astronomical observatory for the University of Padua, and thus began studies to decide the most appropriate type of structure to house.

The existing keep of the ancient Carrarese castle was perfect: located in the center of the city and facing south, that is to say towards the celestial meridian. Father Giuseppe Toaldo followed the project with the architect Domenico Cerato, adding, at the top of the tower, the access room to the observation turrets. The work lasted a good ten years and in 1777, the University inaugurated the new observatory, specula astronomica according to the Latin formulation.

The Astronomical Observatory Museum
For more than two centuries, the Observatory has carried out studies at an international level and, since 1994, has opened its oldest core, the Specola, to visitors, transforming it into an astronomical museum. The museum route, which includes a guided tour, develops through the rooms used over the centuries by Padua’s most famous astronomers. You will have the opportunity to admire ancient instruments up close and discover the history of this fascinating place.

Briefly ...

AddressVicolo dell'Osservatorio, 5, Padova, 35122, Italy
Phone+39 049 8293449