San Giusto Castle (Trieste)
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.
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