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coat of arms
Aquileia (Italy)
Country Italy
region Friuli Venezia Giulia
Coordinates 45 ° 46 ′  N , 13 ° 22 ′  E Coordinates: 45 ° 46 ′ 0 ″  N , 13 ° 22 ′ 0 ″  E
height m slm
surface 36 km²
Residents 3,225 (Dec. 31, 2019)
Population density 90 inhabitants / km²
Factions Beligna, Belvedere, Ca 'Viola, Monastero
Post Code 33051
prefix 0431
ISTAT number 030004
Popular name Aquileiesi
Patron saint Santi Ermacora e Fortunato (July 12th)
Website Aquileia

Aquileia ( Furlanic Aquilee , German Aquileja or Agley or Aglar (n) , Slovenian Oglej ) is a town with 3225 inhabitants (as of December 31, 2019) in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia . The city lies on the river Natissa in today's Friuli (northern Italy ), about ten kilometers from the lagoon of Grado on the Gulf of Trieste removed. It was a strategically and economically important city of the Roman Empire . Remnants of the Roman city can be viewed in the open-air site and in two museums , but most of the remains have not been archaeologically sighted (as of 2017). The medieval basilica of Aquileia houses the most important early Christian floor mosaic in Italy, which is dated to the early 4th century.


A first settlement of the later urban area of ​​Aquileia can be proven for the early Iron Age (approx. 800–500 BC). To the north of the forum , the remains of a settlement from this era came to light at a depth of three to four meters below the current level.

Roman time

Establishment, naming and early development

Later depiction of the founding of Aquileia, middle of the 1st century AD: Depicts the ritual determination of the city limits by drawing a furrow, the sulcus primigenius

Aquileia was founded during the Celtic Wars in Northern Italy . 186 BC According to the Roman writer Titus Livius , Celtic settlers moved peacefully to Italy in order to establish a settlement at the site of later Aquileia; a similar migration movement occurred in 183 BC. Chr. Repeated. However, after the general Marcus Claudius Marcellus had expelled the Celts from the area, the Senate decided to found a Roman colony there in order to secure permanent control of the area. To organize the founding of the city, three senators were appointed to triumviri coloniae deducendae , namely Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica , Gaius Flaminius and Lucius Manlius Acidinus Fulvianus (whose name and official title was also found on an inscription from Aquileia). It was determined that the new city should not have full Roman citizenship , but only Latin citizenship . In 181 BC After renewed clashes with a Celtic tribe, the new city called Aquileia was finally founded. According to Livy, 3000 veterans with their families and officers were settled there.

The origin of the city name is not entirely clear. An ancient theory derived the name Aquileia from the word aquila ("eagle"), which is rejected by modern research. Another ancient derivation is based on a river called Aquilis , which was responsible for naming the city. The ending -eia could indicate that the Latin name was based on the name of an older, Celtic predecessor settlement. This in turn could be traced back to an Etruscan or Rhaetian personal name.

The former, partially reconstructed ancient forum of Aquileia

The foundation of the Roman city of Aquileia was intended to promote the Romanization of the area, but also to bring strategic benefits. From there, in the course of the 2nd century AD, among other things military operations against the Histrians and other indigenous tribes as well as to Dalmatia were started. 171 BC The inhabitants of the city turned to the Senate with a request to increase the population, whereupon triumviri , namely Titus Annius Luscus , Publius Decius Subulo and Marcus Cornelius Cethegus , were sent to Aquileia to settle another 1,500 families there. 90 BC With the Lex Iulia de civitate Latinis danda, all Latin colonies of northern Italy were given Roman citizenship, after which Aquileia became a municipality and received its own "constitution". Some time later the city was raised to a full Roman citizen colony , probably during the reign of Emperor Augustus (31 BC - 14 AD).

Transport links

148 BC The Via Postumia from Genoa to Cremona and an extension with the first bridge over the Adige to Aquileia were built under the consul Spurius Postumius Albinus Magnus . It formed the first safe land connection to Friuli . Around 130 BC Then the continuation of the Via Flaminia along the Adriatic coast from Rimini to the north was driven with a bridge over the Po in the direction of Aquileia, creating the Via Annia . Probably the Via Postumia and the Via Annia ran on the last stretch, namely between Iulia Concordia and Aquileia, on the same route, so that the name of the Via Postumia for this section disappeared over time. Then the transalpine connection to the Danube began in Aquileia, the Via Iulia Augusta , through which the city was connected with Noricum (today's Carinthia and Styria ). Since Ferrum noricum , almost exclusively used for Roman weapons, came from there, it was a strategically important trade route. To the east, over the pass of the Birnbaumer Forest in the Julian Alps, the road to Emona (today Ljubljana ), which formed the last section of the Amber Road and is often (probably incorrectly) referred to as "Via Gemina". In reality, the Via Gemina, known from ancient inscriptions, is likely to be another road that also led east from Aquileia, but took a more southerly route and led to Tergeste (today's Trieste ). There it was probably connected to the Via Flavia , which continued via Dalmatia and the Balkans to Greece.

In addition, Aquileia was also connected to the water transport network early on, when the settlement surrounded by marshland was connected to the Adriatic coast, which was a little further away at that time, through the canalized river Natissa. Towards the end of the 3rd century AD, the "Canale Anfora" was added as a second sea connection, so that the city received an east and a west port, two safe ports from storms and conquerors, which can be accessed by a network of canals for ships and and irrigation were linked. The Canale Anfora was then about three times as long as a connection with the sea in this direction would be today. The inland port was also given safe access behind the lagoons via this canal route, which presumably extended to Chioggia . This made Aquileia the most important port on the Adriatic for centuries.

Aquileia, overview of Roman and early Christian infrastructure

Urban development

The importance of the city resulted from its function as an important traffic junction on land and water until the High Middle Ages . With the reorganization of the administration of Italy under Augustus , the city became the capital of the Roman region X " Venetia et Histria ". The city had already played an important role in the region before, for example as a starting point and winter camp for Gaius Iulius Caesar's "Gallic War" and then also as the administrative center of the greater area. Its importance as a military hub remained in the centuries to come, especially during the Augustan German Wars and the conquest of the Eastern Alps at the same time, in the Pannonian uprising 6–9 AD, the year of the Four Emperors (69 AD). At the same time, Aquileia became a central trading metropolis, through which a significant part of the trade between the Italian peninsula and Central Europe was handled. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder reports in his Naturalis historia that amber was transported from the amber coast on the Baltic Sea to Aquileia. The trade route to Noricum was also important for the Roman economy due to the intensive mining there .

In addition to its role as a trading center, Aquileia was primarily known for its glass industry. Iron smelting and the production of amphorae also flourished. Shipyards emerged and accessories for sea transport were manufactured in Aquileia. In the Roman Empire , the city had an estimated 30,000 inhabitants.

Military importance

Due to its central location, Aquileia's military importance increased with the first incursions of Germanic tribes in the second half of the 2nd century AD. Thus, Emperor Marcus Aurelius had a headquarters here in 168 at the beginning of the Marcomann Wars; two years later the city was besieged by the Marcomanni and Quadi who had invaded northern Italy . In the turmoil of the civil war of the six-imperial year of 238 AD, the city took the side of the Senate in the fight against the reigning Emperor Maximinus Thrax , although he had previously had construction work carried out on the city's road network and was based on inscriptions with the surname “Aquileiensium restitutor et conditor "(" Restorer and [new] founder of the [community of the] Aquileans "). Maximinus moved to Italy with his troops and took up the siege of Aquileia. These fights, which contemporaries referred to as the bellum Aquileiense ("Aquileiensian War"), ended with the besiegers being murdered by his own soldiers. In the further course of the so-called imperial crisis of the 3rd century , Aquileia was repeatedly affected by civil wars and raids by invading Germanic warrior groups, for example in 270, when Emperor Quintillus used the city as his headquarters in his fight against the usurper Aurelian , but then by his soldiers was abandoned and died under unclear circumstances.

In the 4th century AD, the headquarters of the Venetian fleet ( classis Venetum ) was established there to protect the Adriatic coastal waters .

Christianity and Late Antiquity

According to tradition, the evangelist Mark is said to have proclaimed the new faith on behalf of Simon Peter in Aquileia and to have installed St. Hermagoras as the first bishop . He was followed over the centuries by 83 bishops who held a high ecclesiastical rank as patriarchs , but withdrew to Grado in the turmoil of the great migration. The last of them, Daniel Cardinal Dolfin , died in 1762. In 1751 the Patriarchate of Aquileia was abolished. The Archdioceses of Udine and Gorizia were established in its place . Since then, the diocese has been assigned as a titular archbishopric . The only German in this chair was Cardinal Joseph Höffner . As Bishop of Munster, he became coadjutor of the Archbishop of Cologne in 1969 and at the same time titular Archbishop of Aquileia , but only for a few months. Since then, two other archbishops have taken this titular seat.

Aquileia experienced a new spiritual bloom from 314 onwards through Christianity, especially through its bishop Theodorus. In September 381 the Synod of Aquileia took place, which was directed against Arianism .

In 452 the city was destroyed by the Huns under Attila . Under the Lombards , Aquileia lost its role as a political and military center with the establishment of the Duchy of Cividale . Instead of Aquileia, with its swampy and unsafe location in a sand-washed harbor during migration times, Grado, located on the nearby lagoon island, was preferred. With the rise of Venice, Aquileia finally lost its dominance.

Since the year 572, the Bishop of Aquileia was considered a patriarch and thus the highest church prince, right after the Roman Pope in the Latin Church. After the population fled to the lagoon island of Grado , the patriarchate was also relocated there. Later there were two competing patriarchs in Aquileia and Grado, and later still in Cividale del Friuli , Udine and Venice .

The Gospel was preached from Aquileia in the Alpine region, so the first Christians came from Aquileia in Säben . Carinthia south of the Drau was cared for and administered under canon law by the shepherd Aquileias from the Carolingian era until the abolition of the patriarchate. The place name Hermagor in Carinthia goes back to the first bishop Aquileias.

Modern times

The municipality was part of the county of Gorizia and Gradisca until the end of the First World War , and was subordinate to the judicial district of Cervignano , which in turn was part of the district of Monfalcone . It was thus part of Austria-Hungary .

From July 16, 1910 to July 1, 1937 Aquileia was connected to the European rail network. Due to the increasing tourism from the "K. K. Priv. Friulian Railway Company ”built a railway line from Cervignano del Friuli to the terminus in the Belvedere district, from where the passengers traveled on by ferry to Grado. With the advent of car and bus traffic, the railway line was discontinued in 1937.


Interior of the basilica
View of the city from the bell tower of the basilica

Today the city is alive again after reclamation and land reform and has developed because of its art treasures, among other things. Noteworthy are:

sons and daughters of the town


Web links

Commons : Aquileia  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Statistiche demografiche ISTAT. Monthly population statistics of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica , as of December 31 of 2019.
  2. a b c d Stefan Groh: Research on the Urban and Suburban Topography of Aquileia. (PDF) Austrian Archaeological Institute, Department of Studies of Central European Archeology, Vienna (Austria).
  3. ^ Franz Glaser , Erwin Pochmarski : Aquileia. The archaeological guide. Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt / Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4277-3 , p. 5 f.
  4. Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita 39,22,6.
  5. Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita 39,45,6.
  6. CIL V, 873
  7. Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita 29,55,5 f.
  8. Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita 40,26,3.
  9. Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita 40,34,2.
  10. Julian , Orationes 2.72 a. See Franz Glaser, Erwin Pochmarski: Aquileia. The archaeological guide. Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt / Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4277-3 , p. 10.
  11. Zosimos , Historía néa 5,29,4; Sozomenos , Ekklēsiastikḕ historía 1,6,5. For this theory see for example: Zosimos: New History. Translated and introduced by Otto Veh , reviewed and explained by Stefan Rebenich (= Library of Greek Literature . Volume 31). Anton Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-7772-9025-4 , p. 376 f., Note 68.
  12. ^ Franz Glaser, Erwin Pochmarski: Aquileia. The archaeological guide. Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt / Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4277-3 , p. 10.
  13. See the individual information from Franz Glaser, Erwin Pochmarski: Aquileia. The archaeological guide. Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt / Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4277-3 , p. 11 f.
  14. Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita 43,17,1.
  15. On Via Annia see Luciano Bosio: Le strade romane della Venetia e dell'Histria. Editoriale Programma, Padua 1991, pp. 68-81.
  16. ^ Christian Witschel : Milestones as a historical source? The example of Aquileia. In: Chiron . Volume 32, 2002, pp. 325-393, here p. 374 f.
  17. ^ Christian Witschel: Milestones as a historical source? The example of Aquileia. In: Chiron. Volume 32, 2002, pp. 325-393, here pp. 377-379.
  18. Gilles Arnaud-Fassetta et al. a .: The site of Aquileia (northeastern Italy): example of fluvial geoarchaeology in a Mediterranean deltaic plain. In: Géomorphologie: relief, processus, environnement Volume 9, No. 4, 2003, pp. 227–245 ( digitized version ).
  19. ^ Franz Glaser, Erwin Pochmarski: Aquileia. The archaeological guide. Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt / Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4277-3 , p. 12 f.
  20. Marina Uboldi, Marco Verità: Scientific analyzes of glasses from Late Antiquity and Early Medieval archeological sites in Northern Italy. In: Journal of Glass Studies. Volume 45, 2003, pp. 115-137.
  21. CIL V, 7989 ; CIL V, 7990 ; AE 1979, 256 ; AE 1979, 257 . Christian Witschel on these inscriptions in detail: Milestones as a historical source? The example of Aquileia. In: Chiron. Volume 32, 2002, pp. 325-393, especially pp. 339-346. Witschel also shows that these building measures were not related to the siege of the city by Maximinus.
  22. CIL VI, 41229
  23. Herodian, History of the Empire after Mark Aurel 8: 2-5. On this discussion see Ulrich Huttner : From Maximinus Thrax to Aemilianus. In: Klaus-Peter Johne (Ed.): The time of the soldiers' emperors. Crisis and transformation of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD (235–284). Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-05-004529-0 , pp. 161–221, here pp. 175–177.
  24. ^ Klaus-Peter Johne : Claudius Gothicus and Aurelianus. In: Klaus-Peter Johne (Ed.): The time of the soldiers' emperors. Crisis and transformation of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD (235–284). Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-05-004529-0 , pp. 297–323, here p. 308.
  25. Hans DL Viereck: The Roman fleet. Classis Romana. Köhlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-930656-33-7 , pp. 257-258.
  26. ^ Pope Benedict XVI: Chromatius of Aquileia . Address to the general audience on December 5, 2007