Trieste Porto Vecchio – new life for an old port?

Trieste and its ports. Since the origins of the city, the harbour is essential for the city and its life. Since Trieste voluntarily searched for protection from the near Venice in 1382 and especially after the declaration of Trieste as “free port”, a privilege gained by the Habsburgs in 1719, the city lives from the trade via the sea. For long times, the port was located close to the city centre, but the high amount of freights forced the authorities to think about creating a bigger harbour – the new port was created between 1868 and 1887. This new port became the “Porto Vecchio”, the old port, in the 20th century, when it was necessary to create even bigger facilities. Even today, Trieste is one of the most important ports of Italy.

The Porto Vecchio is located north of the city centre and starts close to the Central Railway Station (Stazione Centrale). With 617.000 m² it is a huge area stretching from the city centre to the Barcola neighbourhood. The Porto Vecchio has 23 hangars and houses used for storage, 3,1 km of roads and several wharfs. It consists of three parallel streets running from North to South.

The Porto Vecchio still also covers some harbour facilities even if most of the traffic is redirected to the new port south of the city centre. And until this year, the Porto Vecchio was a closed to public. This has changed now. Since March 2024, it is (again) possible to enter the Porto Vecchio and to cross it from North to South using a newly refurbished road, one of the three parallel streets of the port area.

The new road

While the Northern part of the old port was already partly renovated in the last years, the middle and southern areas (close to the city centre) where still abandoned, sometimes even ruins. But after many years of planning the future destiny of the Porto Vecchio, now the final transformation seems to be starting. The mayor of Trieste, Roberto Dipiazza, wants to transform the Porto Vecchio into a Porto Vivo (lively port). For now, this means that some buildings are being renovated. But all the area should be transformed into a park. The project foresees the reactivation of the second street, the creation of a huge park area from the city centre till Barcola, and the transformation of the old houses and hangars into offices, museums and shops.

There is definitely something ongoing, but many people are sceptical that all the plans will be realised. For now, it is highly recommended to walk through the Porto Vecchio to get an impression of the importance of the former main port of Trieste. The old tracks, the ruins of the old buildings are now visible to everyone. It is like exploring the history of the last 200 years of Trieste. For now, pedestrians and bikers need to share the new-old road with cars, because typical for a city like Trieste, the new road has to be open to cars in both directions. Only time will tell if the Porto Vecchio really becomes a lively port with hopefully more green areas and less space dedicated to cars.

How to get there

Go through the big gate located south of the Main train station (Stazione Centrale) and follow the new road northbound. From the Northern endpoint it is possible to take bus line 6 back to the city centre or to continue to Barcola.

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