Sitting on the coast between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia, Trieste is Italy’s Bohemian gem. A melting pot of cultural influences, this ancient city is laced with a vibrant history and it shows. Explore medieval old centres, adorned piazzas and a massive harbour perfect for sundowners and morning strolls. Chock-full of intriguing museums, cathedrals, fairy tale castles and fantastic food, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here’s nine of Trieste’s best attractions.
Right in the middle of the old town, a stone’s throw away from the famous Piazza Unita, sits a small waterway that has stood the test of time since the 1700s. The Grand Canal stretches for around 200 metres from the Riva Tre Novembre to the Via S. Spiridione and finishes at the Piazza Sant’ Antonio Nuovo and the Chiesa di Sant’ Antonio. Stroll along the banks and marvel at the Palazzo Carciotti and Palazzo Gopcevich that surround it or stop for a coffee at one of the many cafes that line the canal. Accessed by three bridges and populated by numerous boats that moor at each side, this area is potentially one of the most picturesque spots in the city and a must-see.
As the city’s principle form of economy, the port and harbour are important points in the everyday lives of the locals. Taking up practically the whole coastline, the impressive main harbour sits near the Piazza Venezia and is packed full of beautiful yachts, sailing and fishing boats. An interesting insight into the operations of a working port, the harbour is a great way to experience part of the Trieste culture. Boasting several tourist attractions such as the aquarium and maritime museum, this part of the city is consistently a hive of activity and most definitely one of the best attractions in Trieste.
At the foot of the hill topped with the castle of San Giusto, Trieste’s main square is a sight for sore eyes. Facing the Adriatic Sea, Piazza Unita d’Italia is said to be one of the largest squares in Europe that is located beside the water and it’s easy to see why. Surrounded by several important buildings including the Town Hall, Palazzo del Governo and Palazzo del Lloyd Triestino, the square is the focal point of the city’s old town. As well as spectacular buildings, the space boasts a collection of monuments and statues that are scattered around, such as the two iron sculptured columns that frame the entrance, and is the ideal place to rest your feet after a hectic day of sight-seeing.
Just a quick twenty minute drive away from the centre of town, Grotto Gigante is one of the largest tourist caves in the world and a must when visiting Trieste. Featuring in the Guinness Book of Records, the central cavern reaches heights of over 100 metres and lengths of 120 metres. Take a tour of this natural phenomenon and explore the geographical history of the area. Also referred to as Riesengrotte or Gotta di Brisciachi, the giant cave is located close to the village of Borgo Grotto Gigante and has a visitors centre where you can delve even deeper into the past of this extraordinary attraction.
A true testament to the diverse culture that lingers over this city, the Roman amphitheatre can be found on the Via del Teatro Romano in the historic centre of the old town. Still in immaculate condition, many of the old features are still visual such as the seating and stage area, various columns, walls and statues. A great example of Roman architecture, this site is a must-see when sight-seeing in Trieste.
Like something plucked straight from Cinderella, the castle at Miramare is the most picturesque castle in the entire region and one to add to your list of what to do when visiting Trieste. Built in the 19th century, the castle is located in the small village of Grignano and is set in beautiful gardens and woodlands. Whitewashed walls coupled with elaborate decoration add to the fairytale-esque feeling that will have you reaching for your camera in no time at all. Come here to watch the sun dip behind the Gulf of Trieste to end another terrific day exploring this scenic city.
Interestingly formed by the merging of two churches, the city’s cathedral has been standing since the 14th century. On the right hand side, the church of San Giusto was joined with the left sided Santa Maria to form one of Trieste’s best attractions. Wander through its walls and look out for the remnants of Roman stonework and intricate mosaics that cover the altars. Visit the cathedral bell cast from a cannon left by Napoleon in 1829 and head outside to witness the remains of the second century Roman forum and first century temple.
Sitting atop San Giusto Hill, the castle was built in the 15th and 17th century as an attempt to expand a medieval Venetian fortress. With vaulted halls, weapon displays and impressive furniture and tapestries, this next attraction is one for the history buffs. Cross the wooden drawbridge and make sure to take in the panoramic views over the gulf from the ramparts. A real gem, this is definitely a worthwhile trip when visiting Trieste.
One of Italy’s major modern art museums, the Museo Civico Revoltella is on the corner of the Piazza Venezia and has been open since 1991. Spread across six floors and 40 rooms, the museum houses over 1000 paintings, 800 sculptures as well as many more prints and drawings. Featuring celebrated local and international artists from the 20th century modernist movement, there’s plenty to keep you busy here. After having a look around, make your way up to the terrace where you’ll find breath-taking views over the city’s harbour.
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Flights to Trieste
- Lucy Norris