The site covered by the ‘Padova Urbs picta’ nomination is a serial one in that it comprises the fourteenth-century fresco cycles to be found in eight different buildings or complexes of buildings spread around Padua’s old city centre. These are grouped into four different component parts within an area that, in the fourteenth century, corresponded to the entire inhabited space within the city walls. Those four component parts are: (1) Scrovegni Chapel and the Church of the Eremitani; (2) Palazzo della Ragione, Carraresi Palace, Baptistery and associated Piazzas; (3) Buildings associated with the Basilica of St. Anthony; (4) San Michele. Overall, this complex of historic monuments is known throughout the world and stands in a region where the tradition of wall frescoes dates back to the tenth century but would undergo extraordinary development during the course of the fourteenth century. Giotto’s presence in the city around 1302 marks the beginning of a period of remarkable cultural and artistic achievements, which would continue throughout the century and produce frescoes of rare quality.
Giotto, Guariento, Giusto de’ Menabuoi, Altichiero da Zevio, Jacopo Avanzi and Jacopo da Verona would all play a leading role in these achievements. Working for illustrious local families, the clergy, the city commune and the Carraresi court, these artists would decorate the interiors of religious and civic buildings (both public and private), producing works that would alter the way the city was perceived.
Today, these fresco cycles can still be visited within their original buildings. And even though they are the work of different artists commissioned by different patrons to adorn structures of different character, these frescoes form a single narrative that reflects their shared origin in the art of Giotto. Each cycle is a personal interpretation of the artistic language developed by that master, and as such makes an exceptional contribution to the whole.