The medieval carpentry of the Basilica of St Anthony in Padua

Attics are often the most interesting rooms where to investigate historical construction techniques. Above the eight domes of the medieval Basilica of St Anthony in Padua, lightweight timber structures attest to the use of rather archaic frameworks. The ongoing research on the domed roofs confirmed the preservation of their 13th-century configuration and the perpetuation of this model during later interventions until the 18th century.

Based on onsite measurements, study of archival material and dendro-dating, this paper aims at shedding light on the constructing techniques and dating of the timber domes of St Anthony. Results from the dendro-sampling campaigns provide evidences of 13th-century elements still in place. Moreover, cross-references between on-site findings and archival materials enable the tracing of the dendro-provenance of replacements from the 16th century. Finally, a short comparison with the timber domes of St Mark in Venice and St Justine in Padua enhances the importance of the ancient timber structures of St Anthony.


The research team thanks the community of the Basilica of St. Anthony for their hospitality during the surveys, as well as the Pontifical Delegation and the Presidency of the Veneranda Arca for permission to investigate the monument.

Authors contribution

The resources, the investigation, and the text conception and writing were made by M. Diaz. L. Vandenabeele reviewed the manuscript and supported the onsite investigations. S. Holzer reviewed the manuscript and acquired the financial support. All photos and drawings are by M. Diaz (except those for which specific attribution has been provided).


The research project is funded by SNF.