Aquileia was founded by the Romans as a military colony in 181 BC, it was first bulwark against the invasion of the Barbarians and the departure point for expeditions and military conquests. Located in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (Udine Province), about 13 km from the Adriatic, and about 60 miles from Venice (airport) going east, it was added to Italy’s register of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1998.
What remains today is a beautiful Cathedral. The Aquileia Cathedral is a flat-roofed basilica erected in 1031 on the site of an earlier church, and rebuilt about 1379 in the Gothic style.
The façade, in Romanesque-Gothic style, is connected by a portico to the so-called Church of the Pagans, and the remains of the 5th-century baptistry. The interior has a nave and two aisles, with a noteworthy mosaic pavement from the 4th century. The wooden ceiling is from 1526, while the fresco decoration belongs to various ages: from the 4th century in the St. Peter’s chapel of the apse area; from the 11th century in the apse itself; from the 12th century in the so-called “Crypt of the Frescoes”, under the presbytery, with a cycle depicting the origins of Christianity in Aquileia.
To enter the Basilica is free, and the magnificent mosaic pavement can be enjoyed free of charge, to visit the rest ( Crypt of Frescoes, Crypt of Excavations, Baptistery & Chromatius Hall, Bell-tower & National Archaeological Museum), tickets are sold inside the Basilica for about 9.00 euros. The crypt frescoes are worth the price of the ticket, also the walk up the campanile is worth. The view, on a clear day, is magnificent.
Ancient River Port and Roman Forum
After a stop at the near by pasticceria and gelato shop (all home made!); a short and pleasant walk from behind the Basilica will take you to walk thru the port. The river port could be one of the best preserved examples of the port structure of the Roman world. The port was built on the ancient course of two rivers, which bordered to the east of the ancient city and that at this point had a width of about fifty meters.
Badly restored and in need of help and funds, it is rather difficult to imagine how this river port used to be in ancient times. A simple rendering would help understanding.
Continuing the walk to the end there is the Roman Forum. Surely not a spectacular as the one in Rome, still it is worth a visit, especially if one considers that underground there must be still many treasures.