The National Archaeological Museum of Aquileia

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At the end of the last century, the rich archaeological material of Aquileia, from both civic and private collections, was housed in the Faraone-Cassis Villa. The villa, currently used for the museum, was renovated at the end of the 1950s. The display is based on antiquarian criteria, as the collections lack information on provenance.

On the ground floor are displayed the collections of sculpture. The floors are decorated with black-and-white mosaics from buildings and houses of ancient Aquileia, capital of the X Regio Venetia et Histria, and an important centre along the Roman road network.

Room I displays the most important examples of the Roman portraiture at Aquileia, in chronological order. Particularly noteworthy is the well-known Late-Republican head of an old man, lively and realistic. Along the rear wall can be seen the frieze representing the ceremony of tracing the furrow for the foundation of the town, the plaque of L. Manlio Acidino (one of the magistrates who founded the colony in 181 BC) and, on the right, the ex-voto for the victory of the emperors against the usurper Maximinus the Thracian, who besieged Aquileia in 238 AD.

Room II are on display the cultured statuary and funerary statues primarily from the cemeteries beyond the city walls. Among significant items on display are the big statue of Emperor Claudius from the circus area, the ‘navarca’, a large funerary statue of type and a little head of a young man crowned with ivy.

Room III displays the funerary reliefs, including several of local production, belonging to plebeian and provincial individuals, with lively representations of their professions. Imperial Attic sarophagi, of which Aquileia was one of the most important import centres, are also on display.

Room IV is dedicated to religious statues. There are Roman copies of Classical and Hellenistic originals, a headless replica of the Medicea Venus, and reliefs and epigraphs dedicated to various deities.

On the second floor Room V displays Aquileia’s rich collection of carved gems, which documents the role of the town as a production centre, attested from the II century BC to the III AD. The vast cameo collection includes specimens with portraits of the Iulian-Claudian dynasty, while the very rich collection of worked ambers includes examples from funerary contexts.

Room VI is dedicated to Egyptian or Orientalising objects of the Roman world, and to Palaeo-Christian objects; remarkable is a Late Roman silver helmet.

Room VII are on display pottery, lamps (arranged according to typology) and votive and funerary items. Room VIII is dedicated to bronze objects, with mirrors, strigili, votive and domestic small bronzes, appliques of furniture, and Late Roman and early Medieval fibulae, including the exceptional bronze chandelier with Palaeo-Christian symbols (IV century AD).

Room IX displays glass objects, preeminent in the economy of Roman Aquileia which constituted major centre of glass production and export.

Finally, the two rooms on the second floor are reserved for temporary exhibitions and for the rich numismatic section (as the city of Aquileia had its own mint).

Within the external porticoes can be seen items of lapidary, while mosaics, some of these very famous from the excavation of Roman houses, have been inserted in the floor. There are also architectonic decorations of public buildings, funerary, votive and civil epigraphs, funerary monuments (of Q. Etuvius Capreolus and the family of the Statii). Between the mosaics: the asarotos oikos (non-swept floor), the rape of Europa against a blue background, athletes, and the triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite from the Grandi Terme.

Since 1988 the museum houses a small naval section, where the Roman ship of Monfalcone is on display.

Museum address:

National Archaeological Museum of Aquileia
Via Roma, 1
I-33051 Aquileia (UD)
Tel. (+39) 431 91035
Fax. (+39) 431 919537

Opening hours

Tuesday to Saturday: 9.00 – 19.00
Monday and Sunday: 9.00 – 14.00
Archaeological area: 9.00 to one hour before sunset.
Entrance fee: L. 8.000
Free entrance for EU citizens under 18 and over 60.

Visiting itineraries

The Roman houses and the Palaeochristian oratories

There are two archaeological areas (one to the west of the Giulia Augusta Road and the other north of Capitolo Square) with remains of habitations built beginning in the first century B.C. Several were transformed into Christian oratories during the fourth century A.D. The various domus, of which only foundations survive, yielded remarkable mosaic floors.

The patriarchal basilica

The patriarchal basilica, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saints Hermacora and Fortunato, contains the most ancient and illustrious Christian memories of the Region and is especially renowned for its figured mosaic pavement dating to the beginning of the fourth century A.D.

The river port

The remains of the port structures (piers, storage facilities and road connections to the city), built along the right side of the Natisone River, are visible along the Via Sacra (the Sacred Way). The river port was constructed in the second century A.D., and was expanded and restructured several times since then.

The forum

Dating to the second century A.D., it featured a rectangular plan and was surrounded by a portico. The excavations, which are still ongoing, have brought to light roughly half of the eastern part of the square.

The cemetery

The only cemetery open to visitors is the one extending along the road which left the city to the southwest near the amphitheatre and proceeded towards the Adriatic coast along the course of the Natissa River. Partially excavated, it is dated to between the middle of the first and beginning of the third centuries A.D. The archaeological area is accessible from XXIV Maggio Street.

The Palaeochristian museum of Monastero

This constitutes a singular museum: the building is the result of restructurings, carried out over the centuries, of a Palaeochristian basilica located outside the city and built in the early decades of the fifth century A.D. Subsequently, the building housed a Benedictine monastery whose presence is remembered in the name of the town itself. Amongst the numerous artefacts on display which are worthy of note are the Christian funerary inscriptions.

The great mausoleum

A great mausoleum along the Giulia Augusta Road south of the Forum was reconstructed in 1956. Its remains were brought to light by chance in 1891 in the area of Roncolon di Fiumicello, along the Gemina Road which connected to Aquileia a Tergeste (modern Trieste).

The markets and the imperial walls

The remains of storage buildings and two paved rectangular squares where the city markets were held, are visible south of the patriarchal basilica. Several portions of the imperial walls dating to the third and fourth centuries A.D. survive nearby.