Next came the Romans. The area was conquered and in 52 B.C. Tergeste became a colony of the Eternal City. Commerce and trading began to increase at an astonishing rate, particularly during the second century A.D. This went hand in hand with rapid architectural development. Many remains from this period are still visible to this day including the Arco di Riccardo, the Teatro Romano, the patrician villas and the Basilica Forense.
The fall of the Roman Empire heralded a period of great uncertainty. After a succession of Barbarian invasions, the region passed through the hands of the Goths, the Longobards, the Byzantines and the French. The situation was barely any better throughout the Middle Ages. Violent battles for control over the Adriatic lead to Trieste pledging allegiance to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or rather to Duke Leopold of Austria.
In 1382, an indissoluble bond was created between Trieste and the Hapsburgs. It was a bittersweet bond based on love and hate, respect and submission. It was indeed the Austrians, towards whom many people of Trieste still feel conflicting emotions, that ordered the construction of the castle on San Giusto hill, between 1470 and 1630. This castle has now become one of the principle symbols of the city.
It was in accordance with the wishes of the Hapsburgs (a huge international power) that Trieste was swiflty transformed from a sleepy seaside village to a large European port. With the exception of a few other periods of foreign rule (Venetian, Spanish and finally Napoleonic), Trieste remained subjugated by the Hapsburgs until 1918.
Merchants, entrepreneurs and adventurers from all over the world flocked to Trieste and the city was radically restructured in the eighteenth century by the energetic Empress Maria Teresa. By the end of the nineteenth century the city numbered over one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. Large insurance and shipping companies began to appear and shipyards and factories also opened their doors.