La Leggenda di Attila ad Aquileia- illustrazione- Attila a Cavallo- disegno- picture- flagello di dio-

The Myth of the Destruction by the “Scourge of God”

Aquileia, a city often associated with the dramatic events of 452 AD, witnessed a turning point in its history during the invasion led by Attila. Once a prosperous hub of the Western Roman Empire, Aquileia’s ascent was abruptly halted by the arrival of the Huns, marking a devastating chapter in its legacy. Though the city recovered, it never reclaimed its former glory. This episode birthed a legend intertwining with the formidable Hun leader, Attila. Explore the legend of Attila in Aquileia as we delve into the famous tale.

The Legend of Attila in Aquileia: The Stork’s Flight

According to the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea, during Attila’s siege of Aquileia, a crucial moment unfolded. The city, resilient for days, seemed on the verge of withstanding the onslaught. However, as Attila contemplated lifting the siege, a stork caught his attention.

The legend of Attila in Aquileia- Stork- Legend of Attila and the stork- stork babies- stork nest-
Stork with cubs (Photo credit Lorenzo L M. on Visula hunt BY-NC-ND)

The bird, carrying its offspring from a nest on a tower, influenced Attila’s interpretation as a favorable omen. Convinced that the birds predicted Aquileia’s imminent fall, Attila’s troops regained morale, intensifying their assault. Eventually, the walls crumbled at the precise spot where the stork had nested, leading to Aquileia’s invasion and tragic fate.

Read on to discover another intriguing facet of the legend of Attila in Aquileia!

The Legend of Attila in Aquileia - Ulpiano Checa - The invasion of the barbarians - painting -
Painting by the Spanish painter Ulpiano Checa “La invasion de los bárbaros”

The Legend of Attila in Aquileia: The Golden Well

Beyond Procopius’s account, a facet of Attila’s legend persisted in Friulian folklore. Some Aquileia residents, anticipating the Hun’s retreat, had escaped the city before its sack, sailing to the Island of Grado. Before fleeing, they ordered their slaves to dig a deep well, concealing their precious possessions within. Once sealed, the slaves were drowned, ensuring the well’s secrecy. Legend suggests the trove included the cup used by Christ during the Last Supper—the renowned Holy Grail. This narrative fueled beliefs that the Patriarchs of Aquileia guarded the well’s location, enhancing the prestige of the Aquileian Patriarchate.

For centuries, locals believed in the tale, evident in land sale contracts with a peculiar clause: “I sell you the land, but not the well.” Sellers, in case of rediscovery, secured possession of the coveted treasure.

As you explore Aquileia and hear legenda of Attila, remember this legend—perhaps you’ll be the one to find the golden well!

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Article Name
The legend of Attila in Aquileia
Explore the captivating legend of Attila in Aquileia, where history echoes the city's destruction by the "Scourge of God."
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La Scimmia Viaggiatrice