Aquileia is a small and ancient town in the province of Udine, in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy. The town itself has around 3500 inhabitants, but in the 2nd century, at the time of the Roman Empire, Aquileia had more than 100.000 inhabitants and one of the biggest ports of the Adriatic sea. Today it is one of the most important archaeological sites in northern Italy and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The history of Aquileia began around the year 180 BC when the Romans founded a military colony. During the Roman Empire it was one of the most important ports of the peninsula, serving the nearby town of Iulia Concordia (today’s Concordia Sagittaria). It was then destroyed by Attila and the Huns around the year 452, conquered by Lombards around the 6th century, and fell under protection of Byzantines until the year 1420 when it became part of the Republic of Venice.
Today is a small quiet town in the countryside of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, close to the sea and the sea resort of Grado and its archaeological area is visited by many tourists.
The closest airport is in Trieste. Venice’s airport Marco Polo is about 120kms away.
Aquileia doesn’t have a train station. The closest railway station is in Cervignano, 8kms from Aquileia.
Autostrada A4 Venezia - Trieste and Autostrada A23 Tarvisio - Udine. Exit at Palmanova and follow directions on the Ss352. Aquileia is 17kms from the exit on the way to Grado.
The town is small and you can easily walk through the archeological area.
Ruins of the ancient river port
Aquileia’s cultural heritage is so important that the patriarchal basilica and the surrounding archeological area are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will find roman ruins, monastic sites, museums, the basilica and its magnificent mosaics. Walking around is a great experience for those who want to discover more of the history and the times of the Roman Empire and Middle Age.
- Patriarchal Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta - the main religious building in Aquileia and the ancient cathedral of the old town’s patriarchy (canceled in 1420 when Aquileia became part of the Republic of Venice). The oldest parts date back to the 4th century while the basilica itself was built in the 11th century and reworked during the 13th century, but there have been many other works throughout the centuries just like those after the earthquake of 1348. It is on Piazza del Capitolo, very close to Via Sacra and the ruins of the Roman forum, it is flanked by the baptistery and the bell tower which is 73m high. Inside the basilica you will find many beautiful mosaics, a reproduction of the Holy Sepulchre (Jesus’s tomb) built following medieval chronicles while in the crypt there are many frescoes some of them dating back to the 9th century.
- Roman forum - the ruins of the forum are just a few steps from the basilica. The forum was the main square of the ancient roman city and it was located at the crossing of the Decumanus Maximus (the main east-west oriented street of ancient roman cities) and the Cardo Maximus (the main north-south oriented street of ancient roman cities). At its sides there were probably porticos or colonnades, shops and buildings. The archeological excavations in the area began in 1934 and are still going on.
- River port - Aquileia had a huge and important river port. The structure dates back to the 1st century and it went through many modifications in the following centuries.
- Museo Archeologico Nazionale (National Archeological Museum), Via Roma, 1, ☎ +39 0431 91016 ([email protected], fax: +39 0431-919537), . Mondays: closed; on the other days: 8.30 - 19.30; On Sundays and holiday days: Apr-Sept 8.30 - 19:30; Oct - Mar 13.45 - 19:30 The ticket-office closes every day at 19. Entrance-fee: - € 4,00. Reduced for European citizens aged 18 to 25, for teachers in european state schools: - € 2,00. Free admittance for youngs who are either under 18, University teachers and students in Architecture, Conservation of the Cultural Patrimony, Pedagogical Courses, ICOM members, Journalists with card, Handicapped citizens of the European Union and a caregiver, FVG card.. edit
- Museo Paleocristiano (Early Christian Museum), Piazza Pirano, 1, Monastero, Aquileia (locality Monastero), ☎ +39 0431-91131 ([email protected]culturali.it, fax: +39), . Thursday only 8:30 - 13:45. In the locality of Monastero. The museum is in the former Monastery of the Benedictine nuns. It is both a museum and an archeological site with many beautiful mosaics and inscriptions that complete the visit of the basilica and the archeological area of Aquileia. edit
- Cemetery - in via XXIV Maggio. It is the only cemetery found in Aquileia and according to Romans’ custom it was located outside the city walls. It is a very important area beacause it gives many precise information about the burials techniques and habits at the time of the Roman Empire.
- Mausoleum - intersection via XXIV Maggio and via Giulia Augusta. Huge monument 17m high.
- Ristorante Corallo, Via Beligna, 3, ☎ 0431 91065. 09:00-15:30, 18:00-22:30. edit
- Hostaria Al Parco, via Minut 1, ☎ 0431 919444. edit
- Taberna Marciani, via Roma 10, ☎ +39 340 926 7560. Reminds of an ancient roman taberna. Traditional cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. edit
- Ristorante Fonzari, via Giulia Augusta 12 (at Hotel Patriarchi), ☎ 0431 91036. edit
- Augusta Musicafe', via Giulia Augusta 17, ☎ +39 370 319 5674, . edit
- Hotel Patriarchi, Via Giulia Augusta,12, ☎ +39 (0)431 919595 - 91036 ([email protected], fax: +39 (0)431 919596), . edit
Aquileia is close to many other places of interest and tourist resorts: