Explore Italy and the Stars at La Specola
by Martina on Jun 1, 2017
La Specola is located in Padua, Italy, and is the home of the astronomic observatory of the University of Padua.
The observatory itself is located at Carrara Castle and contains its own colourful history, which makes it a perfect destination on your Italy to-do list.
The castle is steeped in history going back to 1237. It was built by the Lords of Padua and externally decorated in red and white squares. In the 16th century, Venetian walls and defensive features were added. The Senate of the Republic of Venice declared in 1761 the intention to build an Astronomical Observatory so that teachers and students of what was then called Patavino Studio could use the facility in practical research.
The Tower of Galileo
The high tower of the Old Castle was considered to be the best location for the observatory equipment. In its early days, the observatory was also referred to as the Tower of Galileo, because at the time its height was equal only to the Leaning Tower of Pisa where Galileo conducted his experiments in physics, proving objects fall faster or slower due to wind resistance.
The Observatory and Museum
Visited by Goethe who wrote about it in his “Italian Journey,” the observatory was an important place for European astronomers and scientists starting in the 18th Century. Today, it is a museum as well as an observatory, which can be viewed only by guided tour. It is still in use by the University, and some areas of the museum show original decor elements including the checkered red and white design. Nearby is the Prato della Valle, a huge elliptical square dating back to Roman arena times. You can find 78 statues of famous citizens and scientists spread throughout the area.