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Sightseeing in Pavia - what to see. Complete travel guide

Hidden among rice fields in Italy, Pavia is a small but charming old town. This is one of the most impressive settlements in Lombardy. For many centuries, local authorities have maintained the original look of the historic center. Moreover, the town is a great place to enjoy the exploration of ancient Romanesque churches and see old houses reminiscent of towers. Many internationally famous poets and artists lived and worked in Pavia: Petrarca, Leonardo da Vinci, Carlo Goldoni, and talented Italian poet Ugo Foscolo. Nowadays, Pavia is not only an old settlement with rich cultural heritage but also a popular university town. A large number of students adds a lively spirit to the centuries-old settlement. Unlike many towns of similar size, life doesn’t stop in Pavia after sunset.
Ancient Ligurians were the first settlers in the area. They called this area Ticinum. In 476, Roman patrician Orestes completely destroyed the town during the fall of the West Roman Empire. Fourteen years later, King Theodoric built the first palace on the ruins of the old town. Soon after that, a theatre and baths appeared in Pavia. To protect the settlement from the enemy invasions, the town got thick fortress walls. However, this was not enough to save the town from the Byzantine commander Narses. In 572, Lombards became the new rulers in the town. They changed the settlement’s name to Pavia.
At the beginning of the 70s of the 8th century, Charlemagne captured the town. It took the legendary king many days to get Pavia – the Italian settlement was struggling and capitulated only after a long siege due to hunger. Soon after that, Charlemagne was crowned in Pavia as the King of Lombards. At the edge of the 12th and 13th centuries, Pavia was a self-governing town. The settlement supported the Ghibellines in its rivalry with Milan. The forces were not equal and the protesters had to accept the dominance of Milan and bow to the Visconti family. The Battle of Pavia, which took place in 1525, was one of the major fights in the Italian War. During the battle, King Francis I was imprisoned. After this event, the Habsburgs were ruling the region for the next three hundred and fifty years. Copyright
Certosa di Pavia is the most famous attraction of this Italian town. This is a Carthusian monastery complex situated eight kilometers from the city center. Before the monastery, there was an old church on this site. The church was built in the 14th century and was reconstructed and rebuilt several times afterward. At the end of the 15th century, in 1497, the church got the look that visitors can see today. The sacred building was consecrated even though inner works were not finished yet. The shrine became a national landmark in 1866.
Certosa di Pavia is an eclectic building, the architectural style of which is a skillful combination of Northern Gothic and Florentine styles that were popular during the Renaissance period. Inside the monastery, visitors can see true masterpieces by worldwide famous artists such as Borgognone and Perugino. There are also works by Luini and Guercino in the monastery. Tourists arrive in Pavia to see the famous tomb of Visconti, a beautiful bronze chandelier, and gorgeous stained glass windows that decorate the monastery’s hall. Having explored the building, visitors can go to the courtyard to see a gorgeous garden. A small portal with fabulous sculptures by Mantegazza and Amadeo leads to the garden.
Would you like to turn into an Italian duke for a short time? A beautiful palace named Castello Visconteo or Visconti Castle appeared in Pavia in the 60s of the 14th century. Initially, this was a fortress, the main purpose of which was to protect the territory of the settlement from enemy attacks. To make the fortress more impenetrable, it was decided to surround it with thick walls. In 1392, a smaller fortress was built inside the complex. This small fortress was the location of barracks for mercenaries. A moat filled with water separated the opposite sides. At a certain period, the fortress was turned into a prison. Many enemies captured during battles were then sent to this prison.
For many years, the castle was the residence of the Visconti dynasty despite the fact that Milan was the capital of the duchy. The duke ordered to build a bridge over the moat and make a [ark near the castle. The Visconti Castle was the largest residence of the powerful family. The size of the estate was big for that time – the castle’s length and width were roughly one hundred and eighty meters. Filippo Maria Visconti spent his last days in solitude in this castle. He was the last member of the Visconti dynasty. Nowadays, there is a museum open in the castle. This museum is dedicated to the history of Pavia. The adjacent park is a favorite recreation area for both tourists and citizens.
Pavia and Milan have a railway connection with trains moving between the two cities every half an hour. The distance is short so the journey time is roughly thirty minutes. If you enjoy looking at the surrounding nature on the go, consider buying tickets to a commuter train to Pavia. This train is significantly slower – the ride lasts one and a half hours. It is also possible to reach the university town by bus. There are many daily buses from Milan’s bus station to Pavia. The journey time is thirty to forty minutes in this case.

City tours, excursions and tickets in Pavia and surroundings

Reference information
Map of all castles
Survived castles around Pavia
♥   Castle 'Civic Tower of Pavia' Pavia, 0.4 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Visconti Castle' Pavia, 0.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Belgioioso Castle' Belgioioso, 12.4 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Rosate Castle' Rosate, 17 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Cigognola Castle' Cigognola, 18.1 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all parks
National and city parks around Pavia
♥   World Heritage Site 'Monte San Giorgio' , 82.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   National Park 'Parco nazionale della Val Grande' , 110.9 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   National Park 'Parco nazionale delle Cinque Terre' , 125.4 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   National Park 'Parco nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco-Emiliano' , 126.5 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   World Heritage Site 'Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch' , 167.1 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all art museums
Art galleries in Pavia and around
♥   Art museum 'Pinacoteca Ambrosiana' Milan, 31.1 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Museo del Novecento' Milan, 31.1 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Museo Poldi Pezzoli' Milan, 31.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Castello Sforzesco' Milan, 31.8 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Pinacoteca di Brera' Milan, 32 km from the center. On the map   Photo

Sights around Pavia from our guide 'Extreme places on Earth'

Mario Bellini House

From the series “Extravagant houses and apartments of designers”
Mario Bellini was not engaged in the arrangement of his house on his own. He considers this approach extremely difficult and illogical. The architect believes that there should always be a desire to try something new in life. In his opinion, the arrangement of housing is an excellent chance to realize such an aspiration. The owner's caring attitude to the works of art and accessories in the style of the past years is visible in the interior of the house. There are wonderful Renaissance paintings and furniture made of dark wood here. … Read further


From the series “Most Extraordinary Thermaes, Baths and Saunas in the World”
Initially, the organizers wanted the sauna-tram to cruise the streets of the city, and its visitors could admire outstanding sights and the most beautiful streets of Milan. City authorities did not approve of such an initiative, and the sauna has been decided to be installed in one of the busiest districts of Milan, close to popular hotels and entertainment venues. … Read further
Car rental on Rentals in Pavia

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Sightseeing in regions nearby Pavia

All about Pavia, Italy - sightseeings, attractions, touristic spots, architecture, history, culture and cuisine. Prepare your trip together with - find out the 'must see' things in Pavia, which places to visit, which excursions to take, where the breathtaking views are waiting for you. Planning your trip with this travel guide will help your to get the most out of Pavia in few days. - online travel reservation expert providing reliable car rental and hotel booking services. We feature more than 25.000 destinations with 12.000 rental offices and 200.000 hotels worldwide.
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