The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste

Trieste

Trieste (Italy) – the most detailed information about the city with photos and videos. The main sights of Trieste with descriptions in the guidebook with a map.

City of Trieste (Italy).

Trieste – a city in the north-east of Italy, located on the Adriatic Sea near the border with Slovenia. It is the capital of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and a major seaport. Trieste in its atmosphere and architecture is quite different from most Italian cities. And it is not surprising because this city became part of Italy only in the second half of the 20th century. Before that for more than five centuries belonged to Austria.

Trieste is rich in neoclassical, baroque, art nouveau architecture, which is so appropriate in Vienna and Salzburg, but looks very contrasting in Italy. The city, despite its ancient origins, has a modern layout, wide streets and spacious squares, combining in interesting ways the cultural traditions of East and West, as well as ancient history and modernity.

Things to do (Trieste):

Trieste: Italian, Austrian and Slovenian

€130 per tour.

Trieste: Italian, Austrian and Slovenian.

Admire the architectural diversity and learn about the city’s rich history and traditions

Miramare. Looking out to sea

€110 per excursion

Miramare. Looking out to sea

A tour of a beautiful medieval castle and the dramatic history of its titled owners

Geography and climate

The city is nestled along the perimeter of the Gulf of Trieste in the northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula, 120 km from Venice. The territory of Trieste is mostly rather hilly. From the top of the city’s hills one can enjoy beautiful views of the Adriatic Sea.

Trieste

Trieste. Grand Canal

The importance of Trieste determined that the city was a bridge between Western, Central and Southern Europe.

The climate of the city is Mediterranean. Summers are usually dry and quite hot, winters are mild, foggy and windy.

Information for tourists

  1. Population – more than 200 thousand people
  2. Area – 84.5 km²
  3. Language – Italian
  4. Currency – Euro
  5. Visa – Schengen
  6. Time – UTC+1, in summer UTC+2

*The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is officially quadilingual. Italian, Slovenian, Friulian and German are spoken here. Most signage in Trieste, of course, is written only in Italian.

History

The area around Trieste was settled in ancient times. Istrian tribes and ancient Venetians settled here in the 10th century BC. In the early Roman period a military camp was founded here on the border with the Celtic possessions. The history of the city starts in the 1st century BC. Trieste was mentioned by Caesar himself, and under Emperor Octavian the first city fortifications were built.

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Trieste went through a period of severe decline, becoming a small fishing village. In the early Middle Ages it was under the control of the Byzantine Empire until the end of the 8th century. Then it was subdued by the Franks. Thanks to its fortunate location, the port city flourished in the Middle Ages and a real fight broke out between the Republic of Venice and the Habsburgs over it. It was eventually won by Austria. Trieste was in fact an Austrian city from the end of the 14th century until the end of World War I.

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Architecture of Trieste

The architecture of Trieste

Trieste reached its peak of prosperity in the 18th century, when it received the status of a free city, as well as the unofficial title of “Gate of the Adriatic”, displacing Venice from this title. Also during this period, the city was a fashionable resort of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Trieste and the territories north of it passed to Italy in 1954. It is now a major tourist, educational, and industrial center. It is a city with a rich and interesting history and many attractions. Its port is today the largest and most important in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.

How to get there

Trieste has an international airport which is situated 33 km north of the city center. There are flights from Munich, London and Belgrade. Trieste also has regular air and rail connections to Rome, Milan and Genoa. You can get here by bus from Maribor and Ljubljana, and by ferry from the Greek cities of Igoumenitsa and Patra.

Attractions

The main sights of Trieste are the Unity Square, the hill of San Giusto, the ruins of the Roman theater, the Grand Canal and Miramare Castle.

Arc de Triomphe Riccardo

Arc de Triomphe Riccardo

Arc de Triomphe Riccardo

The Arch of Riccardo is a small triumphal arch built in the 1st century AD during the time of Emperor Octavian Augustus. The arch is just over 7 meters high and 5.3 meters wide.

The Arch of Riccardo is the oldest monument of Roman origin preserved in Trieste. Although the structure is quite similar to the triumphal arches that the Romans erected in honor of their victories, it is actually a monumental gate of the city walls, built around 50 BC. The walls were torn down in the first century A.D. so as not to inhibit the development of the city, and this beautiful gate remained intact as a triumphal arch.

Basilica of St. Sylvester

Basilica of St. Sylvester

St. Sylvester Basilica

Basilica of St. Sylvester (Saint Silvestro) is one of the oldest churches in Trieste, built in the 11th – 12th century. It is a simple stone Romanesque building with a bell tower, which was probably the old watchtower of the city wall.

Grand Canal

Grand Canal

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal (Canal Grande di Trieste) is a navigable canal in the heart of the historic center of the city, a kind of “little Venice”. It was built in the second half of the 18th century for the loading and unloading of ships. It is a long harbor of 200 m, through which currently three bridges are built. At one time the big canal was used by sailing ships, but now it is full of small boats. It is one of the most atmospheric places in Trieste, surrounded by beautiful buildings and many cafes.

Church of San Antonio

Church of San Antonio

The large canal was once longer, but then part of it was filled in to make a square, on which rises Trieste’s largest church, San Antonio, built in 1849 in the neoclassical style.

Church of St. Spiridon

Church of St. Spiridon

To the right of the square is the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Spiridion, built in 1868 and reminiscent of Eastern churches in Byzantine style. In addition to the frescoes and paintings in the iconostasis, it contains four prominent Russian icons from the early 19th century, covered in gold and silver.

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Miramare Castle

Miramare Castle

Miramare Castle

Miramare Castle (Castel de Mìramar) – a fairy-tale English-style castle located on a picturesque promontory on the Adriatic Sea about 15 minutes northwest of Trieste in the small village of Grignano. It is one of the highlights of the city and was built in the second half of the 19th century by Archduke Maximilian of Austria.

The castle has luxurious interiors and is surrounded by a large park of about 22 hectares, in which a great variety of plants can be seen. The Archduke brought some of the plant species with him from his voyage around the world as admiral of the Austro-Hungarian navy.

San Giusto Castle

San Giusto Castle

San Giusto Castle

The crowning glory of the hill of San Giusto is the ancient castle of the same name, built by the Habsburgs in the 15th and 17th centuries to expand the medieval Venetian fortress that had replaced the early Roman fortifications. A wooden drawbridge across a narrow moat leads to the castle.

Here one can climb the castle walls, from where one has an excellent view of the city, the Gulf of Trieste and the surrounding hills. Inside the castle, weapons from the Middle Ages to the 19th century are on display, as well as antique furniture, tapestries and over 130 Roman stone artifacts, including statues from the amphitheater.

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore

On the way to the castle, you can see the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which was built by the Jesuits in the 17th century and has a beautiful Baroque interior.

Harbor

Harbor

Harbor

The harbor is the main landmark and one of the symbols of Trieste’s prosperity. The city stretches around it like an amphitheater, with the harbor as its stage. Wide boulevards run along the coastal part of Trieste, connecting the four piers and the long breakwater of the old port of Franco Vecchio in the north with the new port of Franco Nuovo and the large shipyards in the south of the city.

Trieste is a city with a rich seafaring history. For hundreds of years it was home to a huge maritime and commercial port. The city’s naval history is reflected in the Maritime Museum, where you can see magnificent ship models, many of which are works of art in their own right. A large part of this collection consists of sailing ships and fishing vessels that have been plying the waters of the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas for centuries. In addition to beautifully crafted models of sailing ships, there are also carefully crafted models of some prestigious cruise ships.

Unity Square Italy

Unity Square

Unity Square Italy

Piazza Unita Italia (Piazza Unità Italia) is an imposing square in the old part of Trieste and the largest square by the sea in Europe. It is located at the foot of the San Giusto hill and faces the harbor. The square has a strict rectangular shape and one side rests on the Bay of Trieste.

Not far from the square is the Molo Audace (Bold). The square has a stone paved promenade which juts into the sea for about 300 meters, allowing tourists and locals to admire the coastal scenery of Trieste and even swim in the sea.

The square is surrounded by magnificent palaces and public buildings, which form a beautiful architectural ensemble: on the north side there is the palazzo del Governo of the early 20th century, on the south side the massive palazzo Triestino of 1882, and on the east side is the beautiful town hall of 1876.

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The square also features the Four Continents Fountain (Fontana dei Quattro Continenti), which was made in the mid-18th century. The sculptural composition presents four allegorical sculptures that recall the features of people who lived in the continents known at the time (Europe, Asia, Africa and America).

Roman theater

Roman Theater

Roman theater

The Roman theater (Teatro romano di Trieste) is an ancient ruin located at the foot of the hill of San Giusto. The construction of this structure dates back to the 1st century AD. The theater uses the hillside as its base and the upper steps and stage were probably wooden. This ancient cultural monument could seat up to 6,000 spectators and was considered lost for many centuries. It was discovered in 1814 during excavations. Today, the theater is sometimes used for concerts.

San Giusto Cathedral

San Giusto Cathedral

San Giusto Cathedral

The Cathedral of San Giusto (basilica cattedrale di San Giusto) is the cathedral and the main Catholic structure of Trieste. The church is located on the hill of the same name and is one of the oldest buildings of the city. It takes its present form after two former churches (of the 6th and 11th centuries), Santa Maria and San Giusto, were united in the first half of the 14th century. It was given the status of a basilica in 1899. The building has a severe Romanesque façade by Cremona craftsmen. The interior of the basilica contains unique ancient frescos and mosaics.

In the cathedral there are the tombs of eight pretenders to the Spanish throne from the house of Bourbon. Outside you can see the remains of a 2nd century AD Roman forum and a 1st century AD temple.

Revoltella Museum

City Museum Revoltella

Revoltella City Museum

At the corner of Piazza Venezia is the Museo Revoltella, one of Italy’s largest modern art museums with more than a thousand paintings and hundreds of sculptures, as well as prints and drawings. Its collections include works by almost all the most important masters of 20th-century Italian art.

Piazza della Borsa

Piazza della Borsa

Piazza della Borsa

Piazza della Borsa is a beautiful square that was actually the economic center of the city in the 19th century. The most interesting structure on it is the building of the Chamber of Commerce, which has a beautiful façade with columns and a decorative marble pediment.

Sistiana Bay

Sistiana Bay

Sistiana Bay

About 20 minutes west of Trieste is the charming town of Sistiana, a coastal resort with a picturesque semicircular harbor with clear turquoise water and several beautiful beaches. Several hotels have been built here and there is a good selection of bars, restaurants and tourist stores.

Interesting excursions

The sweet secret of Trieste

€130 per tour.

The sweet secret of Trieste

Taste the city’s typical sweets and hear incredible love stories

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The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste

The location of the city on the current border of Italy, Slovenia and Austria was the beginning of the original culture and art of Trieste. However, Trieste was not always an Italian city . It belonged to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy for over half a century . In 1945, it became the subject of disputes between Italy and Yugoslavia. It used to be an independent state, but since 1954 it belonged to Italy.

The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste - Photo 2

The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste

Because of its location, Trieste competed with Venice. Just like in Venice, Trieste has the so-called “Grand Canal” . It was built by the Venetian Matteo Pirona from 1754 to 1756 with the goal that ships could easily reach the city center to transport goods. There are several splendid palaces and churches in its immediate vicinity, including the church of Sant’Antonio, right in the middle of the canal on its far side from the sea.

Today small ships are moored along the canal, and next to them is the spirit of the Irish writer James Joyce, who liked to stop in town in the early 20th century. His statue stands here. For romance, you can go to the nearby pier of Audace, where you can feel the pleasant salty air.

The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste - Photo 3

The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste

Colorful confetti from Trieste

Not far from the pier in Piazza della Borza you can take part in a carnival with colorful paper confetti. They were invented and used here for the first time. The story takes place in 1876, when fourteen-year-old Ettore Ferendl lived here in a low house. When there was a carnival procession under the windows, it was proper to throw small lollipops or rose petals out of the windows.

Nothing of the sort the young man could afford, so he improvised. He used small pieces of colored paper cut into small pieces. It was a great idea that was so well liked that everyone started imitating Ettore’s idea, and the confetti spread all over the world. By the way, the word confetti is of Italian origin, referring to confectionery.

The rich history of Italian Trieste - Photo 4

Colorful confetti from Trieste

Today, the designation is mostly used for chocolate-covered almonds and icing sugar, which are mostly produced around Naples and distributed on special family occasions. The architect Max Fabiani, a representative of Art Nouveau and early Modernism, lived in the house next door. In Trieste, for example, he built the National House, originally the Slovenian National House, and worked in Vienna and Gorica.

The central square near the sea

The first steps of visitors to any city usually lead to the main square. In Trieste there is a main square, called the Piazza of the Unity of Italy . It is located in close proximity to the coast and is probably the largest square ever. On it, stands the town hall, built in the second half of the 19th century. From its balcony, Mussolini spoke about Fascist racial laws.

The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste - Photo 5

The central square near the sea

The Unity Square of Italy is at the foot of the San Giusto hill with its castle . It is worth climbing, as the reward is a panoramic view of the entire Gulf of Trieste. The current castle here was built by the Habsburgs to protect their territory from the Venetians, who, understandably, repeatedly tried to seize the city. Inside, among other things, you can see a collection of weapons, interesting furniture, paintings and tapestries.

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The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste - Photo 6

The central square near the sea

In addition to the castle, on the hill stands the former basilica of San Giusto . In 1938 it was the site of a theater, built in the classical style of Roman times. The remains of the basilica, the church of the Capitol, the foundations of the fortifications and the tombs can all be seen here. In the past, the Roman settlement was called Tergeste, from which the current name of the city is derived. However, this is not the original Roman text. The name terg, meaning marketplace, already existed in Illyrian. The suffix -este is again typical of the Venetian language, its influence in this area, looking at the map, is unquestionable. The word terg meaning marketplace or market square was also known in Slavic languages.

The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste - Photo 7

The central square near the sea

The aroma of distant coffee and Central European flavors

Trieste smells like coffee. It boasts the fact that it is a city of coffee, which really knows how to consume this drink. It was also the place where goods from America and India were traded. Coffee was one of the commodities. Today, Trieste Espresso, the specialty coffee fair, is held every two years in Trieste . The local cuisine can be described as Central European, prepared with Italian love of cooking.

The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste - Photo 8

The aroma of distant coffee and Central European flavors

Since time immemorial, the culinary traditions of different countries have blended in Trieste, so you can feel the influence of Istria, Dalmatia, Greece, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary. Many popular soups, various gnocchi, rice and risotto, and stuffed pasta are prepared. One typical ingredient in soups is beans, and this is no exception in the case of the traditional thick iota soup, which also contains cabbage, potatoes and pork. The location near the coast suggests that you can taste seafood in Trieste. You can also try cevapcici. Cheeses, sweet desserts and quality wine leave a good impression.

Local beach

As usual, if there is a beach in the city, it is small and crowded. To give the citizens of Trieste a better place to sunbathe, they also use concrete and stone paths as sunbathing spots. Trees were planted in unpaved areas to provide the desired shade. Between them, people place sunbeds and other beach equipment. On one side is the sea, on the other a road that leads to the coastal castle of Miramare and then to other interesting places in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.

The rich history of the Italian city of Trieste - Photo 9

The city of Trieste is located in the karst area of the Gulf of Trieste. It is surrounded on one side by the sea and on the other by hills covered with forest. At a stone’s throw from the majestic spacious squares you can hide in the narrow streets, where life seems to have stopped. In Trieste, visitors feel good.

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