University of Padua

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University of Padua
Università di Padova
University of Padua seal.svg
Latin: Universitas Studii Paduani
MottoUniversa Universis Patavina Libertas (Latin)
Motto in English
Liberty of Padua, universally and for all
RectorRosario Rizzuto
Academic staff
CampusUrban (University town)
Sports teamsCUS Padova [1]
ColorsPadua Red     
AffiliationsCoimbra Group, TIME network

The University of Padua (Italian: Università degli Studi di Padova, UNIPD) is an Italian university[1] located in the city of Padua, Veneto, Italy. The University of Padua was founded in 1222 as a school of law.[2] Padua is the second-oldest university in Italy and the world's fifth-oldest surviving university. In 2010 the university had approximately 65,000 students,[3] in 2016 was ranked "best university" among Italian institutions of higher education with more than 40,000 students, and in 2018 best Italian university according to ARWU ranking.


The university is conventionally said to have been founded in 1222 (which corresponds to the first time when the University is cited in a historical document as pre-existing, therefore it is quite certainly older) when a large group of students and professors left the University of Bologna in search of more academic freedom ('Libertas scholastica'). The first subjects to be taught were law and theology. The curriculum expanded rapidly, and by 1399 the institution had divided in two: a Universitas Iuristarum for civil law and Canon law, and a Universitas Artistarum which taught astronomy, dialectic, philosophy, grammar, medicine, and rhetoric. There was also a Universitas Theologorum, established in 1373 by Urban V.

The student body was divided into groups known as "nations" which reflected their places of origin. The nations themselves fell into two groups:

  1. the cismontanes for the Italian students
  2. the ultramontanes for those who came from beyond the Alps

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, the university was renowned for its research, particularly in the areas of medicine, astronomy, philosophy and law. During this time, the university adopted the Latin motto: Universa universis patavina libertas (Paduan Freedom is Universal for Everyone). Nevertheless, the university had a turbulent history, and there was no teaching in 1237–61, 1509–17, 1848–50.

The Botanical Garden of Padova, established by the university in 1545, was one of the oldest gardens of its kind in the world (after the Hanging Gardens of Babylon). Its title for oldest academic garden is in controversy because the Medici created one in Pisa in 1544. In addition to the garden, best visited in the spring and summer, the university also manages nine museums, including a History of physics museum.

The university houses the oldest surviving permanent anatomical theatre in Europe, dating from 1595

The University began teaching medicine in 1222. It played a leading role in the identification and treatment of diseases and ailments, specializing in autopsies and the inner workings of the body.[4]

Since 1595, Padua's famous anatomical theatre drew artists and scientists studying the human body during public dissections. It is the oldest surviving permanent anatomical theatre in Europe. Anatomist Andreas Vesalius held the chair of Surgery and Anatomy (explicator chirurgiae) and in 1543 published his anatomical discoveries in De Humani Corporis Fabrica. The book triggered great public interest in dissections and caused many other European cities to establish anatomical theatres.

On 25 June 1678, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, a Venetian noblewoman and mathematician, became the first woman to be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

The university became one the universities of the Kingdom of Italy in 1873, and ever since has been one of the most prestigious in the country for its contributions to scientific and scholarly research: in the field of mathematics alone, its professors have included such figures as Gregorio Ricci Curbastro, Giuseppe Veronese, Francesco Severi and Tullio Levi Civita.

Palazzo Bo is the historical seat of University of Padua since 1493
Diploma of Girolamo Martinengo, 1582

The last years of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century saw a reversal of the centralisation process that had taken place in the sixteenth: scientific institutes were set up in what became veritable campuses; a new building to house the Arts and Philosophy faculty was built in another part of the city centre (Palazzo del Liviano, designed by Giò Ponti); the Astro-Physics Observatory was built on the Asiago uplands; and the old Palazzo del Bo was fully restored (1938–45). Obviously, the vicissitudes of the Fascist period—political interference, the Race Laws, etc.—had a detrimental effect upon the development of the university, as did the devastation caused by the Second World War and—just a few decades later—the effect of the student protests of 1968-69 (which the University was left to face without adequate help and support from central government). However, the Gymnasium Omnium Disciplinarum continued its work uninterrupted, and overall the second half of the twentieth century saw a sharp upturn in development—primarily due an interchange of ideas with international institutions of the highest standing (particularly in the fields of science and technology).

In recent years, the University has been able to meet the problems posed by overcrowded facilities by re-deploying over the Veneto as a whole. In 1990, the Institute of Management Engineering was set up in Vicenza, after which the summer courses at Brixen (Bressanone) began once more, and in 1995 the Agripolis centre at Legnaro (for Agricultural Science and Veterinary Medicine) opened. Other sites of re-deployment are at Rovigo, Treviso, Feltre, Castelfranco Veneto, Conegliano, Chioggia and Asiago.

Recent changes in state legislation have also opened the way to greater autonomy for Italian universities, and in 1995 Padua adopted a new Statute that gave it greater independence.

As the publications of innumerable conferences and congresses show, the modern-day University of Padua plays an important role in scholarly and scientific research at both a European and world level. True to its origins, this is the direction in which the university intends to move in the future, establishing closer links of cooperation and exchange with all the world's major research universities.


The university is constantly ranked among the best Italian universities. In 2016 was ranked "best university" among Italian institutions of higher education with more than 40,000 students, and in 2018 best Italian university according to ARWU ranking.

The University of Padua is also recognized in international rankings. In the 2019 CWUR ranking it is ranked 160th worldwide[5] (2nd in Italy only after the University of Rome - La Sapienza). In the 2019 US News World Ranking the University of Padua is ranked 122th[6] (tied with the University of Bologna as the best Italian) and 48th in Europe.

Notable people

Coats of arms of professors and students in the Aula Magna, Palazzo Bo. Photo by Paolo Monti, 1966


Notable people who have attended the University of Padua include:

In natural sciences
In politics and government
  • Abdirahman Jama Barre, Foreign Minister of Somalia
  • Ioannis Kapodistrias, 1st Governor of Greece, Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire
  • Luigi Luzzatti
  • Alexandros Mavrokordatos, Prime Minister of Greece
  • Seneschal Constantine Cantacuzino Stolnic (c. 1650–1716), Romanian nobleman and humanist scholar who held high offices in the Principality of Wallachia. Author of a History of Wallachia (unfinished), he was the first Romanian to ever graduate from this prestigious university.[7]
  • Jan Zamoyski, Polish nobleman, magnate, diplomat and statesman
In arts, theology and literature

Notable Faculty

  • Ermolao Barbaro (1454–1493), appointed professor of philosophy in 1477
  • Leonik Tomeu (1456-1531) first to teach Aristotle in original Greek
  • Jacopo Zabarella (1533–1589) held chairs of logic, and philosophy, from 1564 to 1589
  • Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) held chair of mathematics[8] between 1592 and 1610
  • Elena Cornaro Piscopia (1646 – 1684), mathematics lecturer, and the first woman to receive a PhD degree[9]
  • Antonio Vallisneri (1661–1730) held chairs of practical medicine, and theoretical medicine, between 1700 and 1730
  • Tullio Levi-Civita (1873-1941) held the chair of Rational Mechanics, famous for his work on the absolute differential calculus (tensor calculus) and many other important contributions in the area of Pure and Applied Mathematics
  • Massimo Marchiori (1970–) Assoc. Prof. (2006–); Italian computer scientist and inventor of Hypersearch


The University of Padua offers a wide range of degrees, organized by Departments:

  • Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural Resources, Animals and the Environment
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health
  • Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Department of Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Sciences
  • Department of Chemical Sciences
  • Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering
  • Department of Communication Sciences
  • Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science
  • Department of Cultural Heritage: Archaeology and History of Art, Cinema and Music
  • Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialisation
  • Department of Economics and Management
  • Department of General Psychology
  • Department of Geosciences
  • Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World
  • Department of Industrial Engineering
  • Department of Information Engineering
  • Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry
  • Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies
  • Department of Management and Engineering
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Medicine
  • Department of Molecular Medicine
  • Department of Neurosciences
  • Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences
  • Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Department of Political and Juridical Sciences and International Studies
  • Department of Private Law and Critique of Law
  • Department of Public, International and Community Law
  • Department of Statistical Sciences
  • Department of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology
  • Department of Women's and Children's Health


Departments have been united in a limited number of Schools:

See also


  1. ^ "Tulane University - School of Liberal Arts - News From the Field: Linda Carroll". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  2. ^ "The University of Padua". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  3. ^ "University of Padua". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  4. ^ Jerome J. Bylebyl, "The School of Padua: humanistic medicine in the 16th century," in Charles Webster, ed., Health, Medicine and Mortality in the Sixteenth Century (1979) ch10
  5. ^ "CWUR - World University Rankings 2019-2020". Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  6. ^ "US News Best European Universities". US News. 18 October 2019.
  7. ^ Treptow, Kurt W.; Popa, Marcel (1996). Historical Dictionary of Romania. Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-3179-1.
  8. ^ "The Galileo Project - Chronology - Galileo Timeline". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia". Retrieved 2013-09-05.

External links

Coordinates: 45°25′N 11°52′E / 45.417°N 11.867°E / 45.417; 11.867