This photo depicts the ruins of Aquileia, a once-great town of Ancient Rome. The place was utterly destroyed by Attila and his Huns. Image by Zavijavah, online via Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Aquileia - at the head of the Adriatic Sea, northeast of the imperial capital of Ravenna - was completely laid waste by the invaders. Located west of Trieste, Aquileia was established by the Romans, during the days of the Republic, as a strategic military location.
Serving its purpose for hundreds of years, Aquileia also prevented barbarians from invading Italy. Caesar Augustus met with Herod the Great here in 10 B.C. The Postumian Way ended at Aquileia and other roads led from it to other Roman provinces.
Initially, Attila thought his siege of Aquileia had failed, and he was ready to lift it. Then - according to legend - the Hun leader saw birds unexpectedly fly out of the city. Trusting in omens as he did, and knowing that animals often leave before disaster strikes, Attila reinstated the siege. Before Attila, the town was impregnable. After Attila, it never recovered. The destruction to the city was total and absolute.
On the banks of the Mincio River, not far from Mantua (Mantova), Attila met Pope Leo the Great. At issue was whether the Huns would attack Rome.
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