Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 15, 2015

A very big horse

The Municipal Palace in Padova, Palazzo della Ragione, was built in 1218 – 1219. It has had several modifications, the last one after a cyclone in 1757.

Palazzo della Ragione

After the fire of 1420 the entire upper floor was turned into one great hall, as it remains today. The walls are covered with beautiful frescoes. The original Giotto paintings  were destroyed in the fire.

From 1425 to about 1440, the Padovan painter, Nicolo Miretti, repainted Giotto’s astronomical theme on the walls and they blend harmoniously with the earlier allegorical and religious paintings by Giusto dei Menabuoi.

Palazzo della Ragione

Don’t miss the golden lion’s head. There is a hole in the mouth and at certain times of the day the sun shines through it.

Palazzo della Ragione

Once your eyes adjust to the low light the enormous Trojan horse at the west end of the room comes into view.  A copy of Donatello’s bronze horse, it was commissioned in 1446 by Annibale Capodilista for a public carnival.

Palazzo della Ragione

Palazzo della Ragione

Palazzo della Ragione

Palazzo della Ragione

Palazzo della Ragione

The huge wooden structure lost it head and tail at some point and they were replaced in the 1800s. A final restoration was completed in 2004 after a careful diagnosis of the problems involved with keeping the horse as authentic as possible.

The Palazzo della Ragione is one of the most beautiful public buildings from mediaeval Europe. How lucky we are that it still exists and we can wander though it…best of all, I was almost alone in the building.

Palazzo della Ragione

Palazzo della Ragione

Palazzo della Ragione is open Tuesday to Sunday and you can enter for the sum of €4. Entrance is via the staircase “Scala delle Erbe” from the Piazza delle Erbe. I circled the building a couple of times before I finally located the staircase…be persistent.

Palazzo della Ragione


  1. I visited this place a couple of years ago and thought that it was wonderful. Padova is a good place to stay if visiting nearby Venice – a lot cheaper and a good rail link.

    • I really liked Padova as well. There are hardly any foreign tourists there. Most of the people at the Scrovegni chapel were Italians. It is destined to become one of my regular places to visit.

  2. The amount of work that has gone in to this is mind blowing. Just so much, and so beautiful

    • The building is stunning, and huge.

  3. Very impressive

    • All of Padova is impressive.

  4. We also think that Padova is a great alternative to Venice and a real jewel.

    • Padova is fabulous, and you get to see it without swarms of tourists.

  5. Wow, that’s truly fabulous.

  6. You must have felt dwarfed inside this building. Very interesting place…I could spend hours here.

  7. Yes that horse is magnificient.
    The horse was built to be in a procession and to be ridden by a giant. The parade included other figures, but the horse is the only thing left from this event.
    At the time it was built Da Vinci, living in Milano also tryied to build a bronze horse with rider. He wanted his horse to be on two legs as if moving. He tried twice, the first time failed. the second time i think he could not finish it as the metal was needed by the military.
    I am happy to see you really got around Padova and look forward to reading more.

    • Padova is a wonderful city. This was my second visit…and there will be more.

  8. That horse is fabulous! That it looks as large as it does, even in that setting, means it must be even bigger than I imagine. How wonderful to wander around a place like that in relative quiet. Lucky you.

    • You should go. It would be about a 3 hour drive, or the train is good.

  9. I’ve been to Italy many times but unfortunately never to Padova. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to visit as it is lovely.

  10. Never knew of this one, so another Debra Gem for the list.

  11. […] to be missed is the magnificent Palazzo della Ragione, the Municipal Palace built between 1218 and 1219. The squares on either side […]

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