Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia




Name: Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia

Country: Italy

Added to World Heritage List: 1998

Criteria: iii: Aquileia was one of the largest and most wealthy cities of the Early Roman Empire. iv: By virtue of the fact that most of ancient Aquileia survives intact and unexcavated, it is the most complete example of an Early Roman city in the Mediterranean world. vi: The Patriarchal Basilican Complex in Aquileia played a decisive role in the spread of Christianity into central Europe in the early Middle Ages.

Total Number of Cultural or Mixed Heritage Sites in Italy: 42

Basic Archaeological Site Information:

Size: 155 ha

Time Period: 180 BCE

Cultural Period: Early Roman Empire

Cultural Groups: Romans, Celts, Illyrians, Greeks, Egyptians, Jews, and Syrians

Archaeological Summary:

Aquileia is located in northern Italy, or more specifically, the region of Friuli-Venezia Guilia. It was one of the largest cities in Ancient Rome and originally served as a frontier fortress to protect Roman allies. Established as a Latin colony under the triumvirate of Publius Scipio Nasica, Caius Flaminius, and Lucius Manlius Acidinus, it soon became a powerful city due to its strategic location and accessibility to trade routes. In fact, it became quite an important and influencial trade center.

Aquileia sported a number of religious groups, including Jews, followers of the cult of Mithras, and those who believed in the sun god Belenus. In the 4th century, the city held great importance. A mint was established causing coins to become numerous. Later, a palace was built and, in the years that followed, housed several emperors. The basilica was built around the same time and helped to develop a small group of Christians in Aquileia, which then spread throughout central Europe.

However, in 401, the city was completely destroyed by Attila, forcing the inhabitants to flee. Aquileia eventually rose again only to be conquered once more. The city remained in ruins until the early 11th Century when the cathedral was rebuilt, however the city never returned to its former glory. To this day, most of Aquileia remains unexcavated underground.


There are no known threats to this site at this time.


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