The garden of the Rotonda Padua | description of the garden

Description of the Garden

The building of the Rotonda was started on 21 September 1923. Its planning had two functions: it acted both as a water tank and as a monument in commemoration of the fallen, to whom the Chapel built inside the foundations is dedicated. Its shape resembles Cecilia Mantella’s tomb in Rome.

Since between the water reservoir and the wall there was a lot of space it was used for a public garden, inaugurated in 1925 and named della Rotonda. To go up to the garden you have to cross a stepped path which starts from Vicolo Mazzini and continues parallel to Viale della Rotonda.

The path is characterized by five balconies with a circular fountain in the centre and each balcony is framed by a simple ring of grass. The presence of many fountains is due to the presence of the water reservoir. In every fountain there are many water-lilies which fill the visitors with a sense of pleasure and serenity.

Every terrace is separated from the next by gardens and gravel paths shaped like a circular geometric garden with an axis perpendicular to the water reservoir. The style of the Rotonda Garden is a mixture of Liberty and Classicism but it also presents features of 20th century. The architectural style recalls the late baroque, but it is also rich in classical references, for example the flower urns and the tower mausoleum are carried out with a secessionist taste, while the shape of the flower beds, (round elliptic and drop-like), are typically liberty. In the flower beds are low bushes that are reminiscent of palms and agaves. At first the garden was apparently meant to hold few shrubby plants to be exposed to the light so as to put the main elements in contact with the water of the garden. At present the garden is being neglected and the trees that live here have no intrinsic value. These trees represent a serious problem for the masonry banks because their roots push on them. The main entrance is characterized by an imposing wrought-iron railing in liberty style. The garden has and overturned- L-shape which proceeds long and narrow in the balcony and terraces and widens at the end of these, where the water reservoir is situated. On it there are geometric elements in the lower part, floral decorations in the central park and Padua coat of arms in the upper part.

At the bottom of the garden there is the stately water reservoir; its main fountain, which has a temple form, is close to a strong terraced wall structure. Inside there are some circular pilasters connected to each other by means of perimeterl and radial concrete arches, disposed on two overlapping floors because they have to support the suspended water reservoir properly.

The story of the aqueduct started on 26 August 1875, when the Mayor said

“water is so vital to man and society, like air and light, that an abundance of water distribution and a regular distribution to the whole city, deserve to be fully kept alive in the citizens’ memories”.

Later on, after thorough studies and discussion, Brenta and Bacchiglione rivers were excluded owing to their torpidity and the presence of bacteria. The water of Dueville source was then chosen because it was considered totally acceptable.

On 17 February 1886 Padua town hall granted the management of the new aqueduct to Società Veneta per Imprese and Costruzioni Pubbliche.

On 13 1888 in Unità d’ Italia Square, the much expected event took place: in front of an exulting crowd of Paduans the first pure water flow was raised. The water transport from Dueville was carried out by means of an underground supply 42 km (26 mi) long made of concrete and bricks, thoroughly plastered in order to ensure the complete isolation from external agents; this supply is still working.

As a matter of fact the new building did not have the hoped for effect. The people of Padua continued to use the free wells because the aqueduct water was too expensive. This failure provoked the financial bankruptcy of the Società Veneta. Accordingly, the town hall administration, in 1892, decided to manage the service on its own through a special town hall authority.

This office ceased its activity in 1904 when the town hall administration decided to combine the water and the gas service. Two Municipal Companies were set up and these merged into one in 1984, when the AMAG or Azienda Municipalizzata Acqua-Gas of Padua was established.

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