Things to see in Pavia - What to see in Pavia







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Things to see - What to see in Pavia                (Back to Pavia main information page)  

Just wandering around town is the nicest way to go sightseeing, pick any side street to stumble on something of interest, a lofty medieval tower, a pretty Romanesque or Gothic church, or calm and standstill piazza.

Once boasted around 100 medieval watchtowers, the ones on Piazza Leonardo da Vinci are all that remain.

Today Pavia most famous landmark is the Certosa, or Carthusian monastery, founded in 1396 and few kilometres north of Pavia, on the way to Milan.

Indeed the Certosa is one of the most notable buildings produced in the Renaissance. It was founded by Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan, meant as a monument and private chapel for his family, later becoming home for 12 monks. The grandeur of the Certosa is explained in its magnificent architecture and interiors, almost gothic although some Renaissance decorations are of some evidence.

Among other notable structures is the old town landmark, the Cathedral, which was started on the ruins of a church in 1488 and saw Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante among its designers.

The Romanesque Basilica di San Michele was built in 1090 in a Romanesque style and it is also known as the place where Frederick Barbarossa was crowned as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1155. The miniatures on its broad sandstone facade are carved into a menagerie of snake-tailed fish, griffins, dragons and other beasts, some locked in a struggle with humans, representing the fight between good and evil.

The Church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro of the XII century is the place where Saint Augustine and Boethius are buried and it contains a superb XIV century altarpiece.  

The large fortified Castello Visconti, built in 1360 by Galeazzo II Visconti, looms over the north of the City. The austere exterior originally housed luxurious apartments as a palatial residence, the majority of which were in the wing of the quadrangle destroyed by the French in 1527. The Castello now houses the Museo Civico, which includes an art gallery with Venetian paintings, a collection with Roman jewellery, pottery and glassware, and a museum of sculpture displaying architectural fragments, mosaics and sculptures rescued from the town's demolished churches, including the reconstructed XI and XII century portals.

Pavia University was founded in 1361, although its educational history started in the IX century when it was a school. Christopher Colombo was one of its most notable graduates while Alessandro Volta, the father of the electric battery, was a lecture here. Inside, several courtyards are shaped as square cloisters although the pattern offers typical variations characterizing each single courtyard. The complex hosts the Museum of University of Pavia.

The central Piazza della Vittoria , a large cobbled rectangle surrounded by beautiful buildings, bars, gelaterie and restaurants, leads down to an underground market , while at the southern end it leads to the Broletto , the medieval Pavia's town hall.


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