The Saint Anthony Basilica in the historical center of Padua is one of only four churches belonging to the Vatican State and not located in the capital. Locals simply call the church “Basilica del Santo”. It is one of the largest and most visited basilicas in the world and receives about 5 million pilgrims per year. The Cappella del Tesoro contains the relic of the Jaw of St. Anthony and the relic of the Incorrupt Tongue of the Saint.
Basilica del Santo Padua
Address, opening hours and admission
Address Basilica di Sant’Antonio di Padova: Piazza del Santo – Padua. Opening hours: From 06.20 till 19.45 in summer and from 06.20 till 19.00 in winter. Admission: Free.
Every year, on June 13, the relics of St. Anthony are carried through the streets of the city. Saint Anthony of Padova, who is also known as Saint Anthony of Lisbon, died on this date in the year 1231.
Construction of the basilica started in 1232. The work was finished toward the middel of the 14th century. It is characterized by its variety of architectural styles. The Romanesque brick structure is topped by eight moorish domes.
The Basilica del Santo was specifically constructed to house the relics of St. Anthony.
The main portal to the church is framed by several archways and intricate decorations.
Nine chapels radiate off the ambulatory behind the main altar. The relics of Saint Anthony are kept in the Cappella delle Reliquie.
Most of the frescoes and marble statues in the church were made during the Renaisance.
The Cappella del Santo, along the left transept, contains the saint’s tomb. This monument is covered with requests and thank you notes for requests that were fulfilled. Most of the requests ask the saint to cure illnesses or recover precious lost objects. The nine panels along the walls of the chapel show events from the life of Saint Anthony. The Lombardo brothers responsible for these relief sculptures completed the work around 1510.
Another highlight is the crucifix by Altichiero da Zevio (1360) in the Cappella di San Giacomo. The 14th century frescoes in this chapel are the work of Andriolo de Santi.
The Sala del Capitolo contains a fragment of a “Crucifixion” attributed to Giotto.
The main work of art in the sacristy is a fresco showing Saint Anthony preaching to a numer of fish. The artist was an unknown follower of Girolamo Tessari. The work was painted in 1528.
The reliefs on the high altar are the work of Donatello.
If you exit through the door in the south wall of the church you come to the monastery. The oldest of the five cloisters in this monastery is the Chiostro della Magnolia, with a beautiful tree in its centre.
Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata
The equestrian statue on the square in front of the basilica is the monument of Gattamelata. Donatello’s bronze statue is considered to be an innovation in art history. It was the first sizeable equestrian statue without other architectural elements.