TravelGuide Aosta: Guide Aosta: Italy - Nozio 0%

Author: VinoFamily

Aosta, Italy

Five centuries under the Roman influence have left impressive marks in this town of Aosta. After the defeat of the Salassi (the local population), in 25 B.C. Augustus founded a city. He gave it his name and stationed there three thousand soldiers of the praetorian cohorts: hence the name Augusta Praetoria Salassorum. It was the mark of Roman military colonisation: a strategic centre to establish control over a newly conquered territory and over the way to Gauls.

Born at the peak of an extraordinary town-planning experimentation, Aosta holds and synthesises the best architectural aspects of the Roman empire; it constitutes a sort of ideal city, a model which is still visible today in the preservation of the original layout and its most significant structures. The city is a rectangle bound by the city walls, that is subdivided into blocks crossed through with perpendicular roads.

To testifying the city's Roman past, there stands Augustus' Arch (formerly the entry to the town) that was probably constructed in the same year as the foundation of the city, in honour of Augustus.

The city walls and the towers show the military and strategic function of Aosta. The walls, in travertine rock, have a perimeter of 728 x 574 metres. At their four corners and far about every 20 metres stood the towers: some of these are still preserved; of the four city gates, the only one remaining is the eastern Porta Praetoria. It is considered one of the most beautiful and best preserved city gateways of the Roman World.

The remains of the Amphitheatre are contained in the monastery of Santa Caterina and it could hold up to twenty thousand people, more than the entire population of Aosta.

The city boasts also a Theatre of which only the colossal southern face remains standing: it is 22 meters high and it is protected by a scaffolding structure in an attempt to preserve its integrit.

Another important testimony of the roman past of this city is the Roman Bridge over the Buthier River: it is perfectly preserved and still used for thoroughtfare even though in the Middle Ages the Buthier changed its course and its waters no longer run under the single 17.16 m wide arch of the humpbacked bridge.

Between the 4th and the 5th Century Aosta became a dioceses. Aosta is rich in Early-Christian evidence: beneath the Cathedral, foundations, paving, baptismal fonts, mosaics, stairways and tombs have been discovered. Together with the monumental complex of Sant'Orso, the Cathedral represent the finest expressions of the early Christian Art and Architecture in Aosta and the best preserved example of Ottonian art in Italy.

The Cathedral complex also includes the extensive museum of Treasure, the Ottonian paintings in the attic, the cloister and the adjacent building of the bishop's residence. The Chancel is the best known piece of art in the Cathedral.

Beside the monumental complex at the Cathedral, the Church of Sant'Orso is the best known in the Valley and one of the most famous in Europe. Originally built in Romanesque style and altered in the following years by works in Gothic style, it includes the Collegiate Church of Saints Pietro and Orso, the Bell Tower Block, the crypt and the Museum of Treasure, the Cloister and the buildings of the Priorate.

The city of Aosta is rich in ancient towers: the Lepers's Tower (Torre del Lebbroso) a part of which dates back to Roman Times and that became a leper hospital in 1752; The Tower of Bramafam dating to 13th Century; The Tour Neuve built in 12th Century; The Tower of Pailleron ("Straw Tower" as it was used for straw storage) of roman origin, and the Fromage Tower. The House of Sant'Anselmo, the Regional Archeological Museum and the Academy of Sant'Anselmo with its Archive are also worth a visit.

(Contents and images courtesy of APT Aosta and Regione Autonoma Valle d'Aosta)


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