In the sixteenth century, Padua was governed by Venice. Venice’s territories were known to be more tolerant of religious and intellectual diversity than many other parts of Italy. Padua was also a major centre of learning; it had two universities (one for law and one for arts and medicine). These characteristics combined to make it a popular destination for foreign travellers, as well as for students from across Europe.
This image shows the city as it was in the early seventeenth century, but the cityscape had changed little since Hoby’s visit in the 1550s. The impressive walls which surround the city had been in place for a century already, having been completed in 1544, in the wake of the War of the League of Cambrai. The skyline is dominated by numerous churches and convents, primary among them the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, known as ‘Il Santo’ (number 21 on the map), which drew large numbers of pilgrims to the city.
Georg Braun, Civitates orbis terrarum [liber sextus] ([Cologne: Anton Hierat and Abraham Hogenberg], 1618). Cambridge University Library, Hanson.bb.27.