The route: Province of Trieste

Moccò castle (San Dorligo della Valle)


Zone: hill
The site is reachable by: trail


The castle of Moccò (Muhov grad or grad Mokovo in Slovenian), built between the karst ridge...

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Moccò castle (San Dorligo della Valle)


Zone: hill
The site is reachable by: trail


The castle of Moccò (Muhov grad or grad Mokovo in Slovenian), built between the karst ridge and Mount St. Michael, dominated completely the Rosandra Valley and enjoyed the view of the entire Gulf of Trieste. Because of its strategic location, it was used to control the important trade route that linked the coast with Ljubljana, and to defend the territorial district called Mucho Mocho, moreover, the fort has been a very coveted stronghold for centuries. It was the subject of numerous struggles and guerrillas fought primarily between Venice and Trieste to dominate the trade routes.
The castle is mentioned for the first time in 1233, when it was called "de Castro Muchou", after the family who had received it as benefit from the Bishop of Trieste.
The legend has it, however, that it was built by the Barbassi or Barbati, a family that fled in the fifth century from the destruction of Aquileia by the Huns. It is not, of course, an acceptable hypothesis, because the fugitives certainly would not have sought escape towards the east, where the Huns and other barbarians came from.
It seems that , around year one thousand, on that hill arose a tower built by the will of Ulrico I Weimar- Orlamünde, Marquis of Istria, on the probable site of a Roman fort guarding the aqueduct below.
During its long history, it has been destroyed or severely damaged and rebuilt many times. It belonged to the Bishops of Trieste until the middle of the thirteenth century, when it was sold to the municipality of Trieste and a few years later, by resignation , returned to the bishop. From 1351 to 1510 the castle, because of the many wars, has repeatedly switched owner. It was possessed by the Dukes of Austria, by the Bishops of Trieste and by the Venetians who decided to modernize it, lowering the towers and reinforcing its defenses.
Since then, and until its destruction, the castle remained in the hands of the Republic of Venice who used it during the Turkish raids against Trieste. In 1510, the inhabitants of Trieste conquered the fort, to prevent it from falling back into Venetian hands and, on the advice of Bishop Pietro Bonomo, they completely dismantled it in 1511.
The materials of the ancient castle were used to built the new one in the seventeenth century, that passed to the Fuenfenberg and then to Petazzi who used it as a customs office. At the beginning of the last century it was transformed into a "infamous" trattoria. In 1945 it was blown up by the retreating German troops and irreparably destroyed by a fire shortly after.
The few remaining stones were used in the post-war reconstruction, to rebuilt some of the houses in the village of Moccò (hamlet of San Dorligo della Valle).
According to tradition, which is also based on a 1863 engraving by Albert Rieger, the castle, that looked grim and threatening, had a square base, with no windows and a drawbridge, topped by a second square mass embattlement, of lower proportions, and an also an embattled tower. This representation is purely imaginary, since absolutely no one knows what was the original castle like.
Today, in fact, you can see only a part of the 9 meters masonry with an arched opening, probably made during the First World War, when the remains were used as a machine gun posts. On the ground, you can also identify a foundation track of a rectangular building that lacks, though, of the upstream section, and the remains of a cistern built by the Venetians.

San Giusto Castle (Trieste)


Zone: city
The site is reachable by: road


The hill of San Giusto, thanks to its strategic location on a natural lookout, has been...

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San Giusto Castle (Trieste)


Zone: city
The site is reachable by: road


The hill of San Giusto, thanks to its strategic location on a natural lookout, has been inhabited since prehistoric times: it was the probable site of a castelliere (a settlement protected by a wall) and it was later peopled by the Histri, and finally by the Gauls and the Carni.
The Romans built there a colony called "Tergeste", that owes its origin from ancient Venetic‚ terg(o) (the market) and the suffix ‚este (city), as to underline the commercial importance of the place, also relevant for the control of the ancient road junction between Aquileia and Istria. Under the Empire, it became the seat of an important urban center, whose remains (the Forum, the Basilica and a temple dedicated to the worship of the Capitoline triad) are still partly preserved. It also expanded its territory to include the lands inhabited by the Catali and the Carni.
In 476, with the fall of the Roman Empire, Tergeste was conquered by the Goths from 476-533 AD and by the Byzantines, under whose government the city was establishment as the "numerus tergestinus", a political-military organization formed to defend the passeges on the Alps and the Karst.
From 752 to 774 it has been occupied by the Lombards, in 788, it became part of the Carolingian Istrian Empire , the "Austria Italiae", on border of the Holy Roman Empire.
During the establishment of the hegemony of the Republic of Venice on the Adriatic seaside, the city fought for a long time. In 1202 it submitted to the dominion of Venice, swearing allegiance to the Doge Enrico Dandolo, and abided to the will of the Serenissima for the construction of the first fortress later demolished by the Patriarch of Aquileia in 138. Just one year later, Trieste, worn out by the continuous wars with Venice and Austria for maintaining its independence, signed a "Spontaneous dedication to Austria".
In 1470, thanks to Frederick III of Habsburg, a fortified construction was started on the top of the hill. It had to serve as residence for the imperial captain with the aim both to control the rebellious spirits of Trieste and to ward off the Turks raids, who were attacking more and more often the Adriatic coast . Today, the primitive construction of the "Captain's House ", a two-story building topped by a tower, houses the Castle Museum.
Between 1508 and 1509, as a result of the Pact of Riva, Venice regained the dominance of Trieste: an expansion was immediately designed and many fortified structures were built around the bastion, which surrounds and protects the building and the perimeter walls. With the return of Austria, the works resumed under the guidance of the military architect Domenico de Lalio: the south-eastern curtain was therefore built and is known as "Hoyos - Lalio bastion".
In 1630, with the erection of the "Pomis bastion ", triangular in shape, the building of the fort was brought to completion. The empowerment of firearms had reached such high levels that made it completely obsolete when compared to similar defensive works.
Since then, the castle was neglected and reduced to a barracks, a military store and even a prison (especially for women of ill reputation or, during the Risorgimento, for political prisoners).
In his long life, this fortress was only assaulted twice: in 1813, when Napoleon's troops have resisted for fourteen days the British, Austrian and Neapolitan militias; and, in 1945 , when German soldiers resisted for a few days, waiting to surrender to the allies.
Only in 1930, when it became a City heritage, the castle was restored.
The fortress (the architectural complex betrays the long period elapsed between the beginning and the ending of construction works) has a triangular shape, with strong bastions one top , and rises on a large square, called "Courtyard of militias" from which, through stairs and walkways, you have access to the ramparts.
From here you can distinguish the boundary between the so-called "old town" characterized by winding streets, stairways and alleys, and the eighteenth-century Teresian village, so named by Maria Theresa of Austria.
In the restored rooms of the Lalio Bastion is hosted the Tergestino Lapidary, consisting of Roman inscriptions, sculptures, bas-reliefs and architectural fragments.
Of all the ancient structures you can see the housing, the casemates, the siege well, the Santa Barbara and all the underground structures, that wind and plunge into the bowels of the hill. Entering the castle, after passing through the atrium that preserves the coats of arms of the Thirteen Casade (ie the thirteen families of Trieste who defended the freedom of the city against invaders) visitors access to the "big guard room" used in the '400s by the waiting horses.
Inside the "Captain's house " is located the Civic Museum of the Castle that holds a rich collection of ancient cutting and fire weapons as well as many armors.
Of particular value is the Gothic chapel dedicated to St. George, whose vaults bears the coat of arms of Frederick III of Habsburg , who commissioned the building.
The hill also houses to the cathedral, dating from the fourteenth century and dedicated to St. Giusto, built on the ruins of two earlier churches: a 5th century basilica (founded over the remains of the Capitoline temple) and another chapel dedicated to the eleventh century “Assumption of the Virgin”, with a shrine in honor of San Giusto. The big bell tower, built on ancient Roman foundations, dates back to 1337.
In the space in front of the tower stands the sixteenth century white column on which there is a copy of the alabarda, the medieval weapon that became the symbol of the city (the original is guarded in the Cathedral’s Treasury). According to the tradition it fell from the sky during the martyrdom of St. Sergius, but it looks more like, a Saracen or Persian parade weapon, arrived in Trieste with the First Crusade’s veterans as spoils of war.
The fourteenth-century church of San Giovanni (the old Baptistery) to the left, and San Michele al Carnale on the right, at the museum’s entrance, complete the charming medieval complex.

Opening hours:
From April 1 to October 30: armory lapidary and walls, every day from 9 to 19
From 1 November to 31 March : armory and lapidary from 9 to 13 and the walls from 9 to 17

Miramare castle (Trieste)


Zone: cliff
The site is reachable by: road


One day, in 1855, during a trip with his war boat, named "Our Lady of Health”, Archduke Maximilian...

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Miramare castle (Trieste)


Zone: cliff
The site is reachable by: road


One day, in 1855, during a trip with his war boat, named "Our Lady of Health”, Archduke Maximilian of Austria , at the time commander -in-chief of the Imperial Navy, was forced to find shelter in a cove of Grignano because of the strong wind. The wild beauty of the place made him build, between 1856 and 1860, on a nearby hill, a splendid princely residence: the castle of Miramare (from the Spanish "mirar", “to watch”).
The palace was designed by the Austrian engineer Carl Junker, who decided to build it according to the fashion of the time, with an eclectic style combined with models drawn from the Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance periods. The interiors were made by artisans Julius and Franz Hofmann: the ground floor was dedicated to the private apartments of Maximilian and Carlotta and has an intimate and friendly atmosphere, while the first floor was designed for representative purposes and for guests, was decorated with sumptuous ornaments, stained coats of arms and red upholstery with imperial symbols. Works began in 1856 and ended only four years later. They were strictly followed by the archduke himself, especially as far the setting of the beautiful park (over 22 acres large) that still surrounds the castle, was concerned. It contains both an Italian and English garden and is rich in precious plants, many of which were chosen by the archduke, who was very fond of botany, during his travels around the world as admiral of the Austrian Navy: firs of Spain and India, cypress trees from California and Mexico, and then cedars from Lebanon and northern Africa, ferns and laurels, redwoods, camellias and Chinese wisteria. At first, in the park was built a smaller building, called "the little castle", which served as a residence for the couple during the construction of the main building , after the decay of the Archduke from the post of governor of Lombardy and Venice.
Maximilian, accompanied by his young wife, Carlotta of Belgium, left for Mexico on April 14, 1864. With the favor of the emperor of France, Napoleon III , a delegation of Mexican exiles led by JM Gutierrez de Estrada had offered to the Archduke the crown of Emperor of Mexico, as decided in the Convention of Miramare in April 1864. The hostility against the new government, however, began immediately after his arrival. His decision to abdicate and the return of Carlotta in Europe, in the vain attempt to plead the cause of her husband, who was taken prisoner and put to death by the Republicans in the Queretaro on June 19, 1867, could do nothing. His cause was advocated also by Giuseppe Garibaldi and the French writer Victor Hugo.
During his stay in Rome, where she asked the help of Pope Pius IX, Carlotta gave the first signs of a serious mental imbalance. Her brother Philip took her to Miramare, where she remained under the strict supervision of Austrian security agents until she was brought back to her family in Belgium where she died in 1927.
On this story and because of the death of Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, who lived in the castle between 1931 and 1937, is based the curse that accuses the castle of Miramare of being cursed. It is believed that whoever lives there perishes prematurely of a violent death in a foreign land.
The castle consists of more than twenty rooms all furnished with furniture and objects dating from the mid-nineteenth century: of particular value are the "Maximilian’s halls" , including the bedroom, furnished like a ship cabin, the Hall of throne, the music room where Carlotta exercised with the fortepiano and the Japanese Sitting Room.
Poet Giosuè Carducci (1835-1907), who visited the Castle on July 8, 1878, described it the poem entitled “Miramar” dedicated to the tragic fate of Maximilian of Habsburg.

Castle’s opening hours
Every day of the year from 9.00 to 19.00 (ticket office closes at 18:30)
Park’s opening hours
From November to February from 8.00 to 17.00
March and October: from 8.00 to 18.00
From April to September : from 8.00 to 19.00

The two Castles of Duino


Zone: coastal
The site is reachable by: road (new castle),
path (old castle)


On the steep cliffs of the Bay of Sistiana, dominating the Gulf of Trieste, the Friulian...

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The two Castles of Duino


Zone: coastal
The site is reachable by: road (new castle),
path (old castle)


On the steep cliffs of the Bay of Sistiana, dominating the Gulf of Trieste, the Friulian plain and the Karst hollows, there are the two castles of Duino.
The lower stronghold or "Old Castle", whose ruins are still visible on the rocky outcrop overlooking the sea , dates back to the 10th century and was the primary residence of the lords of Duino that, because of its particular geographical and political situation, have been constant allies of the Counts of Gorizia and opponents of the Patriarchy of Aquileia.
The manor is mentioned for the first time in a document of 1139 on a compromise between Duino and Trieste, but its history is full of war. In 1300 the Venetians attempted to conquer it, but the fort was able to sustain the long siege thanks to the reserves of water, collected in a cistern in the yard, and the stockpiles of food, stored in the cellars dug into the rocks. When the Turks invaded Friuli for 12 times over the 15th century, though, it was almost completely destroyed.
Only in the mid- nineteenth century, Princess Therese of Hohenlohe has renovated the ruins of the old castle overlooking the sea, consolidating the arches on the north-eastern side.
In a document from 1363 a "new castle" placed in higher position, is mentioned. It was ordered by Captain Ugone VI of Trieste. The abandonment of the first fortress was probably due to the increased importance of the lords of Duino and the consequent need to accommodate worthily important people their house. From the seventeenth century onwards, the lower castle was abandoned and fell into disrepair while the upper fort, was gradually made safer and more sumptuous. It became more and more important due to its position of control on the coast and the on "salt road" that led from Trieste to Friuli.
This new castle was built in the site of an older fort, the “castellum Pucinum”, probably a Roman tower used as lookout point or as a lighthouse. The place is in fact mentioned by Pliny the Elder and celebrated for the famous pucino wine produced there, that Livia, the widow of Emperor Augusto, considered as a panacea and a long life elixir.
Ugone died in 1391 thus extinguishing the dynasty of the lords of Duino, who was then substituted, because of family ties, by the barons of Walsee, who took care of the castle’s completion in the first decades of the fifteenth century.
Fallen into the hands of Venice, in 1508 the castle was recaptured by Emperor Maximilian, who gave it to John Hofer. Following the marriage of his daughter Ludovica, with Raimondo VI della Torre, it passed to the princes della Torre and Tasso, whose heirs still live there.
Duino was visited by eminent personalities of culture, history and science. The most important guest was probably Dante, who was hosted by Ugone II and who wrote, inspired by the wild beauty of the place, a few verses of the Divine Comedy: "Io venni in luogo d'ogni luce muto / che mugghia come fa mar per tempesta / se da contrari venti è combattuto"(Hell, vv . 28-30). The short cape which is located in the cove between the two castles is called "Dante’s Rock " to celebrate the poet’s visit.
In more recent times, there have been hosted: Maximilian of Hapsburg and his wife Charlotte of Belgium, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria that would die shortly after in Sarajevo, the composers Johann Strauss and Franz Liszt, the writers Mark Twain, Gabriele D'Annunzio and Eugène Ionesco. In this castle, Rainer Maria Rilke designed and started the composition of the “Elegies of Duino” while visiting Princess Maria della Torre e Tasso, to whom he dedicated his work: as a memorial to the event the spectacular panoramic path, about 2 km long, that leads to the bay of Sistiana, was named after the great poet from Prague.
The old castle is also romantically called, La Dama Bianca as a result of a legend which tells of the sad death of Esterina from Portole. She was the wife of one of the castle lords, and she threw herself into the sea because of jealousy and cruelty, but was transformed, before crashing on the rocks, into the stone that is still visible today in the bay, just off the coast. It is said that, during stormy nights, she comes back to life, dressed in white, and walks between the old walls of the ancient manor of Duino.
More than 18 rooms are accessible to the public. They are rich in precious family history of the Princes della Torre e Tasso. The staircase designed by Palladio is a masterpiece of architecture as well as the fortepiano played in 1810 by Liszt. Moreover, in the park there’s a bunker built in 1943 to defend Sistiana against a possible Allied landing. It was used as a bomb shelter by the Germans and turned into fuel depot by the British Army at the end of the conflict. Today it houses a small museum with memorabilia that are exposed in a large room dug 18 meters deep.

Opening hours:
From April to mid-October : from 9.30 to 17.30 (closed on Tuesdays)
From the second half of October until November 4: from 9.30 to 16.00 (closed on Tuesdays)

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