"The university of Padua"
Rector of Padua University, 16th Century
Public DomainRector of Padua University, 16th Century - Credit: New York Public Library

The University of Padua was founded in 1222.  It is the second oldest university in Italy, after the University of Bologna, and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe.

From the 15th to the 18th centuries, the university was renowned for its research, particularly in medicine, astronomy, philosophy and law. It played a leading role in the identification and treatment of diseases and ailments, specializing in autopsies and the inner workings of the body.  The protection of the Republic of Venice enabled the university to maintain some freedom and independence from the Roman Catholic Church. 

Today, it continues as one of Italy’s leading universities.