The Altinate San Gaetano Cultural Centre
The Altinate San Gaetano is the splendid cultural centre of Padua, designed to promote and disseminate culture in all its forms.
Situated in the heart of the city, the Altinate San Gaetano Cultural Center is one of the leading public spaces of the Municipality of Padua. Here are organised and hosted exhibitions, debates, shows, courses, conferences and cultural festivals, according to a rich calendar of events, and is proposed as a space to live and explore, where to socialise, study, attend concerts, or enjoy a cup of coffee and read a book.
The historic building hosting the Centre, the Palazzo San Gaetano, was originally a convent built in the sixteenth century for the Order of the Regular Theatine Clerics. The convent and the adjacent Church of San Gaetano were designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, a famous Italian architect and author of many Palaces, villas and churches throughout Veneto, as well as the producer of the Andrea Palladio’s unfinished projects after the latter’s death.
The Convent passed to the State property in the early nineteenth century, following the suppression of the monastic orders in the wake of the Napoleonic ecclesiastical legislation, and then was purchased by the Municipality of Padua in 1874.
In the first post-war period, the former convent was renovated to house the Padua City Courthouse, inaugurated in 1934 and remained in operation until 1995.
The last renovation in 2008 granted the city a new beautiful edifice, in which the classicism of the original forms designed by Scamozzi fusions with the modernity of steel and tempered glass. The new design inspired the people of Padua to name the complex The Paduan Beaubourg, an innuendo to the Parisian Centre Pompidou.
In front of the palace are the flagpoles with the three stylised red flags symbol of the complex, created by the German designer Peter Eberle, and the original fountain with stones, water and bamboo by the Bonsai master Edoardo Rossi.
The Center is structured on five levels for a total of 12,000 square meters, a
Auditorium – a multipurpose room with 234 seats, located in the basement
Agorà – a multifunctional covered square on the ground floor, where there is also the newsstand, the city centre children’s space, and a modern café-restaurant
Exhibition spaces of more than 600 square meters developed as galleries on the first and third floor
Educational workshops – classrooms dedicated to teaching on the first floor.
Civic Library – housed on the second floor.
Over the years, the Altinate San Gaetano Center has hosted important events at a national level, such as the exhibition dedicated to Van Gogh, the Future Vintage Festival, an event dedicated to lifestyle, fashion and design or Be Comics, a show dedicated to comics, games and Pop culture.
The Civic Library of Padua is housed on the Centre’s second floor. It offers a rich open shelf with literary works relating to contemporary culture, current events, scientific dissemination and citizens' rights, and a historical section. It allows the consultation of old and rare material, particularly history, art and literature, and three unique collections: the Paduan, the Danteist and the Petrarchist.
The library has quiet and comfortable study rooms. It is open from Monday to Thursday from 8.30 to 17.30 and on Friday and Saturday from 8.30 to 13.30. The historical section is available only on Mondays and Thursdays from 8.30 to 17.30.
Inside the Center, there is also the Youth Information point, with a reception, information and orientation service of the Youth Project Office of the Municipality of Padua. The service is aimed at young people between 15 and 35 years old and was created to guide and inform young people in search of training courses, job opportunities, international experiences, and voluntary activities.
The Youth Information point is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10.00 to 13.00 and from 15.00 to 19.00, on Thursdays from 10.00 to 19.00 and on Saturdays from 10.00 to 13.00.
The use of the workstations is free, but it is necessary to make a reservation and register by presenting a valid identity document. Consultation rounds have a maximum duration of 30 minutes at the Youth Information Center and 60 minutes at the Library.
Public Internet access points are available in the Library and at the Youth Information point. It is also possible to surf wirelessly in the Agora on the ground floor and in the Auditorium, using the free wi-fi network made available by the Municipality of Padua, PADOVAweb. No registration is required.
The Casa Vecchiato Pane e Vino is a modern café-restaurant on the ground floor that occupies 380 square meters and has an outdoor area with 150 seats.
The interior is structured in three different areas: a large restaurant-bar room, a smaller room with 50 seats available on reservations for private parties, and a small shop where you can buy products from the Casa Vecchiato line. The restaurant is very nice and well-kept, with modern tables and counters in two-tone wood and a selection of San Daniele hams in plain sight.
The restaurant is run by the Vecchiato family, owner - among other things - of the excellent bakery located in Piazza della Frutta. It offers fast and informal service and cuisine with fresh and excellent quality products, carefully selected and coming without intermediaries from the producers.
The local specialities are the delicious platters of fresh cured meats accompanied by an excellent selection of Friulian wines from the Fantinel group.
The restaurant is open every day from 08.00 to 22.00, excluding Sundays.
The Altinate / San Gaetano Cultural Center is open every day from 8.00 to 20.00. Times may vary concerning the events and the various activities hosted in the Centre.
Auditorium, Agora and exhibition spaces on the first floor can be rented (prices and references are available on the Centre's official website) by submitting a request to the Mayor's Cabinet.
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The church, partially destroyed in 1944, preserves the remains of the splendid frescoes painted by Guariento and Andrea Mantegna
The oldest church in Padua, dedicated to Saint Sophia, was the original cathedral of Padua, built in the twelfth century on the site of a previous pagan temple.
The most important Paduan complex of museums features the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Medieval and Modern Art in a charming former convent.
In Padua, the pedestrian streets from the city centre are known as Liston, an area extending from Piazza Garibaldi all along to Prato della Valle.
Caffè Pedrocchi, one of the symbols of modern Padua, a café with historical prominence recognized for its coffee and good food