Città Fortificata di Aquileia
Aquileia was founded in 181 B.C. upon the wishes of the Roman Senate, in order to protect the north-east border of the Roman empire threatened by the barbarians. It became the capital of the Venetia et Histria region and was subject to pillage and plunder during the civil wars which troubled the Empire from the death of Nero until the accession of Vespasian (68-70 A.D.).
In 169 A.D. it was besieged by the Quads and Marcomans, who never did succeed in conquering the city, and then, uselessly, in 361 by Julian the Apostate who had declared war on Emperor Constantius. In 452 it was devastated by Attila and in 568 was taken over and governed by the Lombards, who had established their seat of government in Forum Julii (now Cividale).
With an act decreed on April 3, 1077 Emperor Henry IV bestowed upon Sighard, Patriarch of Aquileia, the title of Count of Friuli, giving the Church of Aquileia independence from the Duke of Carinthia and temporal power over the entire Friuli area and the bordering territories. In this manner, the Patriarch became Duke of Friuli and Marquis of Istria and Carniola (presently part of Slovenia and Croatia). Hence a state was born which maintained its independence until 1420, when it was annexed to the Republic of Venice. After 1420 the Aquileian church continued to maintain its sovereignty over several Friuli localities, until 1751 at which time Pope Benedict XIV abolished the Patriarchate in agreement with the Hapsburgs and the Republic of Venice, and appointed the two Archdioceses of Gorizia and Udine in its place.
An area full of history and monuments, Aquileia is particularly important for its archaeological findings from the Roman period: the forum, the city walls, the via Sacra including ruins from the fluvial port along the Natissa river, large stretches of stone-paved roads, plus an infinite number of tomb stones, sarcophagi, friezes, metopes, capitals, a burial ground, mosaic pavements etc. Also noteworthy is the monumental basilica complex from the Patriarchate period with the ancient tower (now a bell tower) and the baptistery. A walled city during the Roman and Medieval period, Aquileia preserves important traces of its city walls, while of the towers only the foundations remain, along with the bell tower constructed by Patriarch Poppo (1019-1045).