This modern, lively city played once an important role as chief port of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire. In fact,Trieste was often referred to as Vienna by the Sea. In the 18th century, Empress Maria Theresia ordered salt marches between the port and Old Trieste to be drained, then used the site to develop the 'New City,' which remains to this day a fine example of 18th-century urban planning. With the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire in 1918, Trieste became a part of Italy.
The city enjoys a prominent location on a hillside surrounded by rugged countryside and a beautiful coastline. The vast Piazza Unite d'Italia is a popular meeting place, with sidewalk cafes and a number of buildings of architectural interest. Among Trieste's highlights are the Cathedral of San Giusto, containing beautiful Byzantine mosaics and medieval frescoes. At the Piazza della Borsa stands the neoclassical former stock exchange, which serves now as the Chamber of Commerce. Crowning the hilltop is the Castello de San Giusto, built by the Venetians in the 15th century and enlarged by the Hapsburgs to its present size.Today it houses a museum with excellent exhibits of weaponry, armor, furniture and tapestries.
Most typical of Trieste are its turn-of-the-century cafes that, like Vienna's coffeehouses, are popular as social and cultural centers. In fact, the city is regarded as one of the most famous coffee towns in the world. Many of the cafes are part of a roasting shop, and coffee lovers will find plenty of choices and settings in which to enjoy a good cup. One can say that Trieste's caffe¸ culture truly rivals Vienna.