La Specola Museum at Padua. Padua Astronomic Observatory was founded by Senate decree of the Republic of Venice on 2nd May, 1761, and was located inside the high tower of Padua old castle. The building, used as watch-tower in the 10th century, was transformed into a prison-tower in 1242 by the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano and the complex was later used as defensive building by the da’ Carrara family, princes of Padua, from 1375 to 1405. The works for the observatory began in March 1767 under the supervision of abbot Giuseppe Toaldo, professor of astronomy, and the clergyman and architect Domenico Cerato. Two buildings were designed: a 16-metre tall building, right against the tower eastern wall, and a taller one, 35 metres tall at crenellations height. Above the tallest building were designed two small dome-shaped roofs to host various instruments and a small tower to cover the access stairs. The lower observatory was later called the ‘Sala Meridiana’ (Sundial Hall) and mainly used to measure local midday thanks to the meridian line marked across the floor in 1776 and carved on a marble plate. It was also used for the observation of bodies moving along the celestial meridian with instruments suitably placed here. The tallest observatory was adorned with frescos portraying figures important for the history of astronomy and hence named ‘Sala delle Figure’ (Figures Hall); from its tall windows all around the walls it was possible to observe the entire sky.
Vicolo dell’Osservatorio 5, Padova
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