Fortezza di Grado
An important site since Imperial Rome, Castrum Gradense lay at the mouth of the River Natissa, which connected it with the Port of Aquileia. Strategically located for the defense of Aquileia since the 2nd century AD, it gave refuge to the Aquileian population fleeing from invading armies, such as Alaric’s Visigothes (402-408), Attila’s Huns (452) and the Lombards (568). During the reign of Patriarch Paulus (567-569) the Patriarchal Seat was moved to Grado, since Aquileia had become unsafe.
Following the Schism of the Three Chapters, two different Patriarchs were elected - one in Aquileia and one in Grado. This event ruined the relationship between the two cities, which had previously been very good, and Aquileia and Grado began a centuries-long dispute to gain primacy over each other. Even if its defences had been reinforced by Orseolus II, Doge of Venice, Grado was conquered by Patriarch Poppo in 993, who held it for a brief period. In 1027 the Pope officially decreed Aquileia’s supremacy over Grado and the Venetian province.
In 1451, Pope Nicola V transferred the Patriarchal Seat to Venice. After having been reduced to a simple parish, Grado was plundered and pillaged by the English Army in 1810 and by the French Army in 1812, eventually falling under Austrian rule in 1815. In 1915 it was annexed to Italy.
Little remains of the ancient fortress: part of the curtain wall with a recent extension, a small fortified house built on the curtain wall, and the ancient tower, later extensively altered; nothing has survived of the 16th century fort, which was still standing at the beginning of the 20th century.