The Piazza is dominated by the immense Palazzo della Ragione, which divides it from Piazza della Frutta; the splendid porticoes under the Palazzo now house shops and bars that are full of gastronomic treats. At the centre of the large raised Hall above these porticoes is a sundial that established the times for the opening and closing of the market. To the right (as you are looking at the Palazzo) are two buildings that make up part of the City Hall complex: the sixteenth-century Palazzo del Podestà and a twentieth-century addition to it; on the facade of this later building there is the city crest and a marble map of Padua which shows the locations hit during the First World War, when a total of 912 bombs fell on the city. To the left of the Palazzo della Ragione (as you are looking at it) is the so-called Palazzo delle Debite, which takes its name from the fact it stands on the site of what was a Debtors’ Prison; access was by a raised sixteenth-century walkway direct from the courtrooms in the Palazzo della Ragione itself .
The walkway and prison were demolished in 1872; the building one sees now, complete with a wide nine-arched portico, was designed by the architect Camillo Boito. As in the past, the Piazza is home to a very picturesque open-air market, with the stalls of the local scariolanti [market gardeners] covering almost the entire space, their goods complementing what is on offer in the four rows of shops in the arcades under the Palazzo della Ragione. The fountain in the piazza was installed in 1930, and every day is surrounded by colourful flower stalls.