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Palazzo del Governo, Trieste
Andreas Neumann

Canale Grande, Trieste
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Trieste Railway Station, Trieste
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Piazza dell'Unita d'Italia, Trieste

Miramare near Trieste, Trieste
Andreas Neumann

Welcome to Trieste
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 211,184 (2001 census)
Official website:
Wikipedia: Trieste
Map: MapQuest

Located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste on an arm of the Gulf of Venice, at the north end of the Adriatic Sea. Trieste is one of those cities of the water, made important by the business it has conducted since time immemorial with traders from the known world.  It is also a  city in a region that borders on many countries, and fortunately, a city that is open-minded and open-hearted, with a buoyant cosmopolitan feel.

Inhabited originally by tribal societies of Indo European descent, as long ago as the first ice age, Trieste was fully subjugated by the Romans by 177 BC, and enjoyed the special status of a "colony" under the reign of Julius Caesar.  After Rome fell, Trieste was more or less an independent Duchy. In 1081 AD it was absorbed into the orbit of the City of Aquileia, but, around 1369 AD both cities came under the domination of the increasingly powerful Republic of Venice. To shake-off Venice's grip, in 1382 Trieste pledged itself to King Leopold III of Austria, and was folded into the Holy Roman Empire and later, the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

During and well beyond the middle ages, Trieste was Austria's most important commercial port and shipbuilding center, and in due course became a large, rich and open city - a "free port" - connected to Europe by an ever-expanding network of roads and railways, and to the rest of the Mediterranean by fabled Adriatic. Here, artists such as the famed Irish author, James Joyce, hung-out with his wife, Nora, and other members of the international "gliterati" of the era.

Not until Friuli-Venezia-Giulia - and some contiguous territory known as Istria - were brought into the modern country of Italy in 1918 (with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire), did Trieste become an Italian city, a status which changed briefly in the aftermath of the World War II, when, in 1947, it became the Free Territory of Trieste consisting of two zones, one controlled by Britain and the USA, and the other by Yugoslavia.  In 1954 Italy gained control over the Anglo-American part, although the area did not come fully within sovereign Italy until 1975.

Given its history and its location on the borders of several European countries, travelers will not be surprised to see a large number of interesting, imposing and sometimes beautiful buildings and monuments.  But, the works of man are not the only thing that is attractive about Trieste, which is located on a mythical riviera where one finds  dazzling beaches, rugged cliffs and thick belts of greenery.  It was here that Jason and his Argonauts are said to have landed in their search for the Golden Fleece.

Just outside the city, and well worth a visit, along the old Roman road, Via Germina, is the Castle of Miramare, built by Maximillian, Emperor Franz Josef's younger brother.  It was, indeed, built to be fit for a prince.

In the city, the Catedrale San Giusto stands on a hill which was probably the site of the earliest habitations. The building was started in the 6th Century, using some of the extant parts of a Roman temple.  The Lombards destroyed the church but  later two Romanesque basilicas were erected on the site during the 9th to 11th centuries.  They were joined during the 14th century, a "renovation" which was decidedly Gothic in result.  The rosette above the portal and the campanile (bell tower) are both wonderfully ornate.

In the 1930s, in the forecourt of the Cathedral, archaeologists uncovered the remains of the Roman Forum and a colonaded administrative building.

The nearby Castle of San Giusto, was built on the ruins of a much older fort during the 11th to 13th centuries, and has been expanded or renovated many times.  Much of it,  including a noteworthy museum, is open to the public.  For some, a walk on the ramparts, which afford a sweeping view of Trieste, and the sea beyond, will be the highlight of their day.

Other Roman monuments in Trieste include the the Arco di Riccardo, dating to 33 BC, not far from the Piazza dell'Unita d'Italia, and the Teatro Romano, between the Capotoline Hill and the same Piazza.  One should also look for the remains of the immense Basilica civile Romana at the foot of the hill upon which the cathedral and castle of San Giusto are built, and several patrician villas.

There are numerous other attractions in Trieste, not least of which is the waterfront area as a whole, but the most important is the Piazza dell'Unita d'Italia, the biggest piazza in Europe, and the heart of politics, business and culture in the City.  The Piazza, at the center of which stands the 18th century Quattro Continenti fountain, is the site of many concerts, festivals, shows and exhibitions.  It is surrounded by cafes and gives way to many streets with many more cafes, restaurants, clubs and shops. The most magnificent building fronting the Piazza is the Prefettura, or palace of government.

Europeans have known about Trieste for centuries, and keep coming back, aware of its spendid atmosphere and abundant pleasures.  North Americans and people from even more distant shores are just discovering it, and word is spreading: it's one of the must see cities in all Italy.

by Vian Andrews, 09-09-05

Friuli Region



Car: A4 from Venice; A10 from Lubljana
Ronchi dei Legionari Airport.
Train/Bus: connections from Venice and Ljublana.




Old Trieste Street

Sophocles V at Trieste

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