Trieste is a beautiful city in the north-east of Italy, it borders Slovenia and the Adriatic sea. We came across Trieste accidentally, James was searching by pictures on Google and found some photos of Trieste, he was totally sold on the city, so we weaved it into our European trip. No regrets.
The city of Trieste has a very interesting history. I love a good history lesson so I’ll give you an overview, if you don’t care for history feel free to skip to the photos below.
A brief history of Trieste
Like the majority of southern Europe, Trieste was a part of the Roman Empire. Known as Tergeste, it was granted colony status by Julius Caesar around 177 BC. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Trieste was repeatedly invaded, destroyed and re-built by several different armies and kingdoms until it stabilised as part of Austria.
In October 1382, after a long struggle trying to resist the influence of Venice, the people of Trieste signed a treaty with Austria. Titled the Imperial Free City of Trieste, economic freedom was granted but under Austrian rule the political self-government was limited. In the late eighteenth century, Trieste’s port was developed and upgraded. Job demand increased and the city’s population grew with many different cultures. At the end of the nineteenth century it was a bustling port city and the 4th largest urban area in Austro-Hungarian territory after Vienna, Budapest and Prague.
During the First World War, Trieste remained part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the end of the war Trieste was annexed to Italy, it remained under Italian fascist rule during World War II. In 1944 the German army occupied Trieste and held it for quite some time. In April/May 1945 the Yugoslav Army invaded the city, but the Germans would only surrender to the advancing 2nd New Zealand Division. The fighting settled in Trieste, the German army surrendered and were given to the British. After negotiations at the end of the war, Trieste became it’s own independent state under Allied Military Administration from the British and American armies. In 1954, under the Memorandum of London, Trieste was given once again to Italy, where it remains today.
This rich multi-cultural history is shown in the city today. Beautiful Austrian architecture is intertwined with Italian food, language and culture, making it a lovely vibrant city to visit.
Now the history lesson is over, have a look at how beautiful Trieste is:
Notice the Free Territory of Trieste sign in the picture above. There is still debate in Trieste between remaining Italian and becoming its own city state once again. Trieste continues to be a very multi-cultural city with Viennese architecture, Italian foods and Slovenian and Croatian language spoken among many locals.
Castello di Miramare
This beautiful castle was built in 1856-1860 for the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria and his wife Charlotte of Belgium. Ferdinand was the younger brother of Francis Joesph I, the Emperor of Austria at the time, he was a travelled man and in the castle you can see a lot of the design and decor are inspired by his travels. In 1864, he became Maximilian I of Mexico, which turned fatal for him, when three years later when he was captured on arrival by the Mexican government and executed. After Maximilian’s death in 1867, the castle was used several times by the Royal Family, including heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand just months before his assassination in 1914. During WWI the contents of the castle were sent to Vienna for safe keeping, then given back after the war for use as a museum. During WWII, the castle was used as a base by New Zealand, British and then American troops up until 1954. The castle was then restored and opened as a museum once again.
Must do’s in Trieste
- Visit Miramire Castle – take a local bus just out of town, plus you drive past all the beaches on the way so you can always stop for a swim.
- Audio guided walking tour – pick up an audio guide from the tourist information centre by the town hall and you have a tour guide in your headphones. They guide you all around the city to the main sites and viewing points.
- Opera – we got cheap last minute obstructed €10 tickets to the Opera, given we couldn’t see much and spent the show standing up to see what was happening, but it was AMAZING and bonus: there was a subtitles screen in both Italian and English so we understood the whole story.
- Gelato – Although most of the architecture is Austrian, you’re still in Italy, get amongst the gelato!
The Viennese architecture, the Italian food, the Adriatic sea, what more could you really want? Trieste is an amazing city. What are you waiting for?!
References/Websites of Interest:
The History of Trieste: https://www.ictp.it/visit-ictp/about-trieste/triestehistory.aspx
Histroy of Trieste: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Trieste
Maximilian I: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_I_of_Mexico
NZ in WWII, Occupation of Trieste: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-2Ita-c12-1.html
Castello di Miramare: http://www.castello-miramare.it/eng/home/home.php
The Italian City that wants a divorce: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-298225941