This church, dating from the 11th century (with a reconstruction in the 13th), is located in place of an older one from the beginning of Christianism.
Though following a Romanesque-Gothic style, all the floor shows a very well preserved mosaic from the 14th century, that, with its 760 m2 is the largest Paleo-christian mosaic in Europe.
The government has excavated the old port, and by walking along the port you will see how the warehouses were placed, and the portico along the walk way. There are preserved some nice etched stones of various design.
Entrance is free and there are many signs placed along the way to describe the history of the port.
Along the main road the runs through Aquileia you will find the ruins of the homes and merchant shops. The Italian government has excavated down the the foundations so that you can see the layout of the town. There is a free gate for entrance, so that you can walk along the old streets.
Located behind the basilica is a memorial cemetery placed to honor the soldiers who were killed in the First World War. There are some large tombstones and many metal ones aligned in the grass. On many of the tombstones it is noted how the soldier died, most of the due to artillery shells. You can see brothers buried alongside each other, and a few photos still exist on the stones. There are some large and well done statues, one that I liked was an angel lifting a soldier, both done in larger than life size.
There is also a large stone on the ground that speaks of the mothers who grieve from losing their sons in battle.
This cemetery is worth the time, about less than an hour, and you can begin to feel the real effects of war on people of the past.
If you love mosaics you will marvel at the massive floor in this basilica that the Romans laid. There has been placed a glass walkway and you WILL be amazed at how much and how well it was done.
You can also buy a ticket for three euros and visit the tombs at the side and rear.
In my mind this compares equally with the mosaics in Ravenna, I have seen both and I believe they are both equally wonderful. This floor has been better preserved in one piece.
On Sundays during the Summer months one can find a small flea market near the basilica. Most of the merchants present nice and interesting items, this flea market not being one in which there is to be found a lot of junk and old clothing.
Prices seem to be a bit lower than the flea market found at Piazzola sul Brenta near Padova, which is the massive flea market in the Veneto.
The legend of the creation of Rome by Romulus and Remus fed by a she-wolf is illustrated i
by the church atop a column. The statue is a copy of the "official" image, and if read well, it was erected in 1919
Isolated from the other remains this monument is a recent reconstruction (Dec 2010) of a mausoleum from the 1st Century.
One question: Being a reconstruction, why didn't they "reconstruct" the statue's head? No one knew the man's face? Maybe...
Located inside "Santa Maria Assunta" cathedral, we may see a very large and well preserved mosaic from the 4th century. Covering all the floor, we may go around it and see in detail in a wooden structure conceived to show as much as possible without stepping in it. The wooden ceiling dates from the 16th century, and the wall are covered with frescoes from several periods. The entrance is free... st least it was when I visited it.
For about a kilometre this well signposted avenue takes you into the old Roman port and explains where things were and how it all worked.
Dotted along the walkway are bits and pieces uncovered over time though some of the best stuff is in the National Archeological Museum, rich in finds from the excavations.
The walk gives you and idea of what life was like and details the history in multi-lingual plaques at regular intervals. It's all open air stuff and not fenced in.
You also learn that when the Huns invaded in 452 AD, things were never the same thereafter and the town went into decline until the 9th century when the patriarch Maxentius re-built the old patriarchal seat. Then the Hungarians clobbered the place but it rose again as an ecclesiastical government centre from the 11th to 15th century and after that became an important meeting place for pilgrims.
The Basilica of S. Maria Assunta was built on a 4th century building which was enlarged several times over the centuries and was partly destroyed during the Barbarian invasions.
In the church the famous for the Early Christian Mosaics (313 A.D), one of the best in the world.
The Campanile (Bell Tower (is 73 m. high (second pic).
The basilica and its campanile are the centerpieces of the now small city of Aquileia. Construction of the basilica commenced about 1650 years ago while Constantine ruled over the Roman empire, and the Christians were allowed to arise from the underground and to openly practice their religion. The campanile was completed about 1100 years later. ( This was a fast track project compared to Louisiana Highway Department projects. )
Directly in front of the campanile you will notice atop a high pedastal a statue of a she wolf nursing the infants Romulus and Remus.
Touring the interior of this most beautiful basilica laden with art works from the early days of Christianity is an experience you will never forget. Behind the campanile is a cemetary and memorial for the many citizens of this small town who died in WWI. As you visit the memorial you can reflect on the senseless events that led to Europe's most devastating modern chain of atrocities and tragedies.
To the west of the forum is the Il Porto Fluviale. There is free, but unmonitored, parking a short ways up the street from the port. This is the northernmost Roman port on the Mediterranean, and where goods from all over the Empire were shipped into the home provinces, and the might of Rome held sway over the ever-expanding empire.
Following the path along from the port, you’ll find many signs in both Italian and English showing the stages of excavation and restoration. There are lovely bits of statuary and masonry along the path as well, many bearing inscriptions to the greater citizens and gods of the Roman period. They were all recovered from the port excavations.
Admission is FREE, and the remains are open from 0830 to 1 hour before dark. There is no cover if it rains, so if there is a threat of rain or snow, dress appropriately
Housed in the remains of a former church & monastery, it contains some of the best early Christian remains in Italy. Photos are NOT permitted inside the building, however.
Contains remains of the tombstones of the early great and powerful of Christian Aquileia, and those of far more humble origins. My personal favorite is the plain headstone dedicated to "A Simple Gaullic woman, much loved", I find it far more touching and loving than any great tomb art.
The museums is FREE, but is only open from 0800 - 1200 so plan accordingly. The museum is unheated, so in cooler or wet weather dress warmly. There are remains to be seen of fine mosaics and stonework, as well as a model of what the museum looked like in it's height of usage by the church.
The scene: Battle scene between the Cock and the Turtle.
The Cock was a bringer of light symbolized in Christ, who was called on to fight against evil, personilified by turtle, inhabitant of darkness. The bag of money depicted the winner's prize.