The history

The only surviving quarter of Aquileia, in the north-eastern sector, is called Monastero, recalling the monastery of Benedictine nuns, dating back to the 9th century and enriched by Patriarch Popo in 1036; it became "the" monastery, as other religious centres were abandoned. On October 30th 1782, Joseph 2nd decided the abolition of the monastery, and the nuns had to move to Cividale; the goods were sold to Count Raimondo della Torre-Hofer and Valvassina, who gave them in 1787 to Count Antonio Cassi Faraone: the building became his resort (the "Palazzo") in Aquileia, where he collected the archaeological finds from his properties or from the antiquarians (like the collection of Giandomenico Bertoli). In 1852 the complex was bought by Count Eugenio de Ritter Zahony; here stayed Archduke Charles Ludwig for the opening of the I.R. Museum.

The monastic building was transformed beginning from 1787 and even more in the following century, when it became a "folador", or a hall for wine-making. In 1895 the digging of a cellar caused the discovery of the mosaic in the apse, followed by excavations under the direction of Enrico Maionica, but the monument was re-covered. In 1949 it was possible to recognize the transformations from the 4th century basilica to the church of the monastery (later reused as "folador"), with an 18th century facade, 14 meters forward the ancient narthex. This addition was at the centre of the projects of reuse of the building, when - at the end of the '50s - it was decided to preserve it globally, even in its latest rural aspect: here a first a second floor were obtained, that allow a general view of the mosaic. On the contrary, the so-called "spina", a 18th century wall that divided the church lenghtwise, was destroyed, recovering several early Middle Age architectonic fragments. The Museum, intended to collect and exhibit Christian objects from the 4th to the 10th century, was finally achieved in 1961.