Basilica of Aquileia near Grado in Friuli Venezia Giulia     (foto © 

Aquileia – the ruins and the basilica

Aquileia, now located in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, has been called “the second Rome” for the role it played in the past and for the wealth of its current archaeological evidence. Founded in 181 BC, Aquileia soon became one of the largest and most important cities of the Roman Empire. Its buildings for size and beauty had nothing to envy to Rome. The other important historical aspect for Aquileia was the direct preaching of St. Mark the Evangelist who made the city the center of spreading Christianity.

One of the most important monuments is the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, famous for its mosaics, which cover the entire floor and tell stories from the Testament, the Crypt of the Frescoes and the Crypt of the Excavations. To this is added the possibility of seeing the old Roman Forum, the Paleochristian Museum and the National Archaeological Museum.

Archaeological area of Aquileia

Archaeological area of Aquileia   (foto ©

The Basilica is located in the center of Aquileia and is worth a visit because it is the cradle of Christianity in Italy. The original structure dates back to 313 and was founded by Bishop Teodoro: over the centuries, it has undergone various changes, but still retains the first area of worship for Christians in its foundations.
The mosaics, made with tiny multicolored and black tiles to emphasize the figures, include portraits, animals, nature and religious scenes.
The ceiling, on the other hand, is made of inlaid wood, and dates back to the 1500s, the work of Venetian artisans. Under the presbytery there is the Crypt of the Frescoes, entirely decorated with frescoes from the Byzantine period with stories from the life of Jesus and Mary and of S. Ermacora and S. Marco.
The Crypt of the Excavations, on the other hand, is a veritable treasure of history: the remains and the mosaics that decorate it date back to four different eras. The mosaics, which represent fantastic animals rich in symbolic meanings, are perfectly preserved.
Next to the basilica stands the bell tower, 70 meters high, built in 1031 on the model of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Attached to the basilica you can also visit the Baptistery, which also dates back to the 4th century.

The Early Christian Museum of Aquileia is a unique structure of its kind: the museum is in fact housed within a Benedictine convent, which was later transformed into a farm, now a private building. The structure also stands on the remains of an early Christian basilica built in 345. Today the restoration allows you to visit the basilica, with its precious mosaics with geometric motifs with Greek and Latin inscriptions on the floor and to observe the whole structure from above thanks to a balcony.
The museum, on the first floor, collects a series of colorful mosaics, in particular twelve lambs that symbolize the Apostles and a splendid peacock, which according to the ancients represented immortality. The second floor of the Museum houses one of the most important collections of funerary inscriptions in northern Italy that celebrate the dead with images of animals and plants.

In Aquileia you can also visit the Roman Forum, which was the political and administrative center of the imperial city, the most important place in Aquileia. Excavations are still in progress, but it is imagined that the square must have been about 115 meters long. The whole complex was built between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. and today a part of the colonnade and arcades and the floors of the Roman court and the square are visible. On the sides of the square were the Roman shops and the market.

Finally we have the National Archaeological Museum of Aquileia. It is one of the largest museums in the world on the imperial age and its three floors display sculptures, gems, coins and mosaics that faithfully reconstruct the daily life of the population.

Prozession Karfreitag Enna Sizilien

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta with unique mosaics in Aquileia, UNESCO World Heritage (foto © bepsy /

Basilica con Aquileia, Udine

Basilica of Aquileia, Udine  (foto ©

Roman ruins in Aquileia, Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy)

Roman ruins in Aquileia, Friuli Venezia Giulia inItaly     (foto ©

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