Top Historic Sights in Aosta, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Aosta

Roman Theatre

The Roman Theatre in Aosta was built in the late reign of Augustus, some decades after the foundation of the city (25 BC), as testified by the presence of pre-existing structures in the area. There was also an amphitheatre, built during the reign of Claudius, located nearby. The theatre occupies three blocks annexed to the ancient city walls, along the Roman main road (the decumanus maximus, next to the Porta Pra ...
Founded: around 0-10 AD | Location: Aosta, Italy

Porta Pretoria

Situated on the eastern section of the walls, Porta Pretoria provided the main access to the city of Augusta Praetoria. It was built in 25 BC after the defeat of the Salassians by Terenzio Varrone. It had three openings, which are still visible today: the central one for carriages and the side openings for pedestrians. The area inside the openings was used as a troop parade court, in its southern section, the land was du ...
Founded: 25 BC | Location: Aosta, Italy

San Lorenzo Church

Under the Aosta old parish church, archaeological diggings brought to light the early Christian cruciform basilica, indicated as Concilium Sanctorum, the Assembly of Saints because it was built on the tombs of some of the early martyrs who were buried in the Roman cemetery area which in itself was built on a protohistoric funeral settlement.  Inside you can see parts of the liturgical structures, the relic platform wi ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Aosta, Italy

Sant'Orso Church

Sant"Orso had originally a single hall, delimited by a semicircular apse. It was entirely rebuilt during the 9th century, during the Carolingian age. Later, bishop Anselm of Aosta further renovated the church, introducing a basilica plan with three naves with wooden trusses. These were replaced by Gothic cross vaults in the 15th century. The church has a nave and two aisles divided by quadrangular pillars. T ...
Founded: 9th century | Location: Aosta, Italy

Aosta Cathedral

Aosta Cathedral was originally built in the 4th century. In the 11th century the Palaeo-Christian structure was replaced by a new one, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist. The architecture of the cathedral was modified during the 15th and 16th century. The present façade, in Neoclassical style, was built between 1846 and 1848. The structures remaining from the Romanesque per ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Aosta, Italy

Regional Archaeological Museum

The upper floors of the Regional Archaeological Museum in Aosta house prestigious exhibitions. The building was founded in 1633 by the marquis Pierre-Philibert Roncas and by his wife Emérentienne de Vaudan. Towards the half of the 18th century the monastery assumed the present appearance. The paintings on the façade (of the 19th century) reproduce the coat of arms of the Savoy House and the portraits of the main charact ...
Founded: 1633 | Location: Aosta, Italy

Arch of Augustus

The Arch of Augustus was erected in 25 BC on the occasion of the Roman victory over the Salassi and was the work of Aulus Terentius Varro Murena. Constructed from conglomerate, the arch has a single vault, with a height to the keystone of 11.4 metres. Its span is a barrel vault, constituting an extension in width of a round arch. In the monument, various styles can be recognised: The ten engaged columns which deco ...
Founded: 25 BC | Location: Aosta, Italy

Pont de Pierre

The Pont de Pierre, meaning 'Stone Bridge', is a Roman segmental arch bridge in Aosta. The bridge crossed the Buthier about 600 m from the eastern exit of the Roman colony Augusta Praetoria; in later times the torrente changed its course, leaving the ancient bridge today without water. The structure is dated to the second half of the reign of Augustus (30 BC–14 AD), who had earlier founded the ...
Founded: 25 BC | Location: Aosta, Italy

Leper’s Tower

The Leper’s Tower was built on the ruins of an ancient Roman tower and was originally known as the Friour Tower, after the family that lived there. This family, whose name was mentioned for the first time in 1191, also occupied the Ports Decumana, now abandoned. After several changes of ownership, it was bought by the Order of Saint-Maurice in 1773 and was incorporated into a hospice of charity founded by Jean-Boni ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Aosta, Italy

Bramafam Tower

Bramafam Tower stands at the corner of Via Bramafam and Viale G. Carducci, along the southern side of the Roman walls. Its official name is Bramafam Castle, but it is commonly referred to as the Tower. It has a circular rampart, with the Roman walls still visible at its base, and part of the tower which flanked Porta Principalis Dextera, on which it was constructed in around the 12-13th centuries. It belonged to the fa ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Aosta, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.

The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).

With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).

Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.

The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.

The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.