The Palazzo della Ragione was built in 1218 and enlarged in 1306. Until 1797 it was used as city council’s assembly hall and palace of justice (hence the appelation della Ragione, meaning of reason).
The upper floor, called il Salone, is a vast hall, one of the largest medieval halls of the world (mt. 81x27x27). It has a beautiful wooden ceiling and is decorated by an astounding cycle of frescoes depicting the astrological theories of Pietro d’Abano, a professor at La Sorbonne in Paris and later at Padua University in the 13th century. The frescoes represent the influxes of stars on men’s activities and life. The gigantic wooden horse on the western side of the hall was built in 1466 and is modelled on Donatello’s Gattamelata standing on Piazza del Santo. On the eastern side there is a contemporary version of the Foucault’s Pendulum.
On the ground floor, the so called Sottosalone, are hosted various shops where you can find all sort of Paduan specialties and delicatessen.
The palace separates Piazza delle Erbe from Piazza dei Frutti, the seat of the daily fruit and vegetable market.