Padova Urbs picta – “painted city” in English – has recently been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Not a single place, but a “serial site”, which develops in four areas of the historical centre of Padova.
The precious frescoed cycles of the fourteenth century can be found in eight buildings: Scrovegni Chapel, Church of Saints Filippo e Giacomo agli Eremitani, Palazzo della Ragione, Chapel of the Reggia Carrarese, Battistero della Cattedrale, Basilica and convent of the Saint, Oratory of Saint George and Oratory of Saint Michael.
The great Padova fresco cycles represent a unique example in the world of a system of outstanding universal value , in an area in which the tradition of fresco mural painting has ancient roots and featured its greatest development in the fourteenth century.
These paintings forge a unitary composition in terms of nature and technique, even if made by different artists and commissioned by different clients and painted inside buildings used for various purposes.
It all began when Giotto arrived in Padova in 1302 and brought to the city a new artistic language from which an extraordinary artistic and cultural season arose that would then continue throughout the fourteenth century. The major painters of the time – Giotto, Guariento di Arpo, Giusto de’ Menabuoi, Altichiero da Zevio, Jacopo Avanzi and Jacopo da Verona – are the heralds of this season. They painted in religious and civil buildings, both public and private, at the service of illustrious families, the Municipality, the clergy and, in particular, the Signoria of the Carraresi.
Paintings of extraordinary beauty were painted from the beginning of the fourteenth century until 1397, making up a unique heritage that we can still admire today.