Galileo, Padua, and Italian ArchitectureIt is well known that the city of Venice became prosperous as a trading port during the medieval age. It was the capital city of its hinterland called Veneto including Padua, Verona, and Vicenza. The Veneto district was developed as an exported-oriented manufacturing area. It still is one of the three major exporting areas of Italy along with Milan and Genoa.
Thanks to this prosperity, major universities emerged in this area. Galileo Galilei studied in Venice and conducted his astronomical research at the University of Padua (1592-1610). Galileo is still a prominent figure in Padua. Let us first look at the astronomical observatory where Galileo did his research.
- Galileo's Observatory, known as.
This tower in Padua is known as Galileo's Observatory, where he observed
stars, comets, and planets in this observatory using the telescopes he
developed. Padua residents are mighty proud of it. But, according to
Professor Lorenzo Fortunato of the University of Padua, this structure
was built about 100 years after Galileo's death, and is still maintained
by the astronomy department of the University of Padua. Professor
Fortunato informed me that Galileo's original observatory still exists
- Another view of the Observatory. The citizens of Padua are mighty proud of this historical structure.
- with a student at the Univ. of Padua.
- Old Court of the Univ. of Padua.
- Galileo's Office on the second floor of the University Court.
- Galileo's House and Galileo admirers.
The city of Padua has many medieval-style buildings. Even new buildings are being built in the old style. There are many Romanesque-style churches. You do not have to go to art museums in Padua. Go to churches.
- Basilica di Santa Giustina.
- Tempio della Pace (Temple of Peace)
defiantly standing against two giant modern structures. This is a
Romanesque building with a large dome.
- Entrance to the Temple.
- Inside the Temple.
- One of the altars has modern flavor. This church was heavily damaged during the second World War, and the church interior has been reconstructed.
- Duomo di Padova. Padua Duomo
seen from the rooftop restaurant of the
NH Hotel building.
- Interior of the Duomo.
- Top of the Dome seen inside the Church.
- Market Building near the Duomo, with a cylindrical dome.
- Basilica di Saint Antonio
Indeed, in Padua, there are Romanesque buildings. Egyptians built
Pyramids, Greeks built the Parthenon Temple.
Romans figured out the vector division of forces experimentally.
This enabled them to construct arches and domes. They developed
Romanesque architecture with a semi-spherical dome providing a
wide area under one roof without a jungle of supporting poles.
Greek and Roman styles without harmony (above).|
Harmony of the two traditions to
create a new style (below).
- Roman Arena built during the first century.
- Greek-style government building.
- Greek-on-Roman. It is OK, but there seems to be something missing in this combination.
Could Italians afford this kind of imperfection? In order to find an answer to this question, let us go to Vicenza, and look at the buildings there.
- Basilica Palladiana was under
reconstruction when I was
there in 2008. When I complained this at the tourist office of the
city, they gave me a brochure with a clean photograph. They said
I can use this photo for my webpages.
- This Wikipedia page tells the complicated history of this Basilica. The key point is that this building was designed by Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) , who was a history-making architect during the Renaissance period.
- This partial view gives the answer to the question: perfect harmony of Greek and Roman designs. The cylindrical roof was being repaired.
- Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) was a
history-making architect. This building is named after him.
Palladio combined the Greek and Roman style to
create his own Renaissance style. This is the beginning the Italian
- Victor Emanuel II Center at the Duomo Plaza in Milan. Milan and Vicenza are in different regions of Italy, and Milanese do not have respect for other regions. Yet, they had to adopt Palladio's design for this important building.
- Catherine's Summer Palace near St. Petersburg (Russia). Many palaces and government buildings were also constructed in this Palladian style (photo 2003).
- Teatro Olimpico is another
contribution Palladio made. While his contribution is visible
from the out-side view of the Basilica Paladiano, this theatre
shows how creative he was in interior designs.
- This Wikipedia page gives a comprehensive description of this this theatre.
- Here are more images of this theatre.
- Villa la Rotanda is an
understandable harmony of Roman engineering and Greek aesthetics.
This rotunda influenced many people in history in designing their
- This Wikipedia page explains how this rotunda was constructed.
More images of Palladio's rotanda in Vicenza.
- Thomas Jefferson was the author of the American Declaration of Independence. His villa at Charlottesville was modeled after Palladia's rotunda.
- The University of Virginia Jefferson's creation. The Rotunda is at the center of the campus.
- So, what lessons can we learn from the Italian architecture. If
Italians created their own architecture, they did it by combining two
existing styles, namely Greek and Roman styles. This is what I firmly
believe styles, namely Greek and Roman styles. This is what I firmly
believe in physics. My physics webpages always conclude with this point.
Click here for my recent
webpage on combining quantum mechanics and relativity.
E & M
- If you do not take what I say seriously, it is OK. Let us see what
Einstein did. Newtonian mechanics existed, so did Maxell's theory of
electromagnetism. Einstein observed the following imperfect cominantion
of these two theories.
Einstein observed this imperfect match and then fixed it to create a new mechanics.
- Click here for more about
Thus far, we have presented Italian architecture organized by one highly prejudiced physicist (myself). Architecture is of course more than physics. First of all, we become very happy when we look at stylish buildings. Let us see some other buildings in the Veneto region.
The city of Verona has a very rich history. To many people in Verona,
their city is the only world, like New Yorkers who cannot imagine anything
outside New York. Indeed, Verona has many things. It has been a very
prosperous city since the Roman time. It still has the original Roman
market place and the Roman arena built the first century. There are
many churches, bridges, castles during the medieval age. I took photos
of some of them.
- Basilica di San Zeno. Verona also has a historical church. Unlike those in Padua, this church was built in Gothic style.
- Market Place. This place was a forum for Romans and the wall fresco is from the Roman period.
- Old Castle along the Adize River.
- Old Castle Bridge across the Adize River.
- Another View of the Old Casle Bridge.
- Russian Student. I met this student from Moscow at the Old Castle Bridge in Verona. While talking about Russia, I mentioned Russia's T-34 tanks. This turned her on. She told me her grandfather operated a T-34 tank during World War II. She said he talks about the tank everyday. I can also talk about the T-34 tank.
- Romeo's House. This house is owned by a private person. We cannot go into Romeo's house, but Juliet's house is now a museum and open to public.
- Juliet's Balcony where she used to meet Romeo.
- Behind the Balcony. Juliet's room on the second floor of her house.
- Two Important Visitors. One is William Shakespeare, and the other person is still alive.
- Statue of Juliet. Everybody visiting her house has to have a photo with her, but I prefer having photos with real persons.
- Gentle Lady from Germany. I met there one German teacher who came with three students. We found two chairs which appeared to have been for Juliet's parents. We had a photo there. I also had a photo with her students.
Wherever I go, I talk with friendly and open-hearted people. Whenever I meet Italians, I feel as if I am one of them.
- At the Padua Railroad Station, talking to a young Italian professional (center). I thought she was a studentmet. Then a student from Albania came to the party. They seem to be interested in who will be the next president of the United States (May 2008).
- Italian Student I met on a train from Padua to Verona. She was across the central aisle, and I always enjoy talking with student (talking to student is my life-time job). When I asked her whether we could have a photo together, she came to my side with a flower which she received from her boyfriend. She wanted to make this old professor happy.
- Tourism Professional. I got
lost in Verona, and was asking everybody for direction, but nobody
was able to speak English. Suddenly this lady came to me with her
boyfriend and told me everything I wanted to know. I asked her
whether she was a student. She said No, but told me she studied
languages and now working for a tourism company. A very cheerful
- Italian Sisters. I spotted these two look-alike Italian ladies at a Verona park. I asked them whether they are twins. They said No, but they said they are sisters. I then asked who is older. They did not answer but asked me to sit down with them and have another photo.
- Whenever I go to Italy, I feel as if I am one of those Italians although I do not speak their language. This gathering took place in Vicenza (May 2008).
copyright@2014 by Y. S. Kim, unless otherwise specified. All photos were taken by him during the period: May 26-30 (2008).