About us

The liberalization of trade in the Adriatic Sea, licensed by Charles VI in 1717, the Passorowitz Treaty, developing trade through Trieste between Austria and the Ottoman Empire (which comprised the Greek Nation, since the Greek State did not exist at the time), but above all the Edict of 1719, promulgated again by Charles VI and declaring Trieste a free port, all laid the bases for the development of trade and for the settlement of colonies of peoples with different nationalities in Trieste. 
Stock-market traders, maritime traders and very well-off shopkeepers coming from numerous regions of Greece became particularly relevant. 
Among the first Greeks was Nicolò Mainati from Zante (1734): with others, he started to form a single community of Orthodox Greeks featuring a minority of Illyrians (today’s Serbs). 
Thus, the “Greek” term identified the religion and not the nationality. 
In 1751, Maria Theresa of Austria granted religious freedom and the archimandrite Omero Damasceno also obtained to erect a church dedicated to Saint Spiridione in an area adjacent to the canal. 
In 1770, the difference of languages and traditions led the Greeks to ask the government to be separated from the Illyrians. 
Hence, the Eastern Greek Community was officially constituted in 1782 and its first action was requesting the authorization to build its own temple overlooking the sea. 
The church was built between 1784 and 1795, but already in 1787 the first mass was celebrated inside it. 
Later, in 1818, the original facade was decorated by architect Matteo Pertsch, a student of Milan-based Piermarini. He was called for this and many more works by Demetrio Carciotti. The temple was then closed by a new gate. The facade is divided into six Ionic pilaster strips on a high base and is crowned by an enlarged gable from which two bell towers rise, showing a probable German Baroque influence. The bells are well-coordinated and diffuse a harmonic sound. They were cast in Udine by Cobalchini. 
Above the entrance door, under the half-circle rose window, an epigraph on black marble reminds of the building permit granted by the Sovereigns of Austria and the above-mentioned renovation. The Greeks of Trieste dedicated the new temple to Saint Nicolò and to the Most Holy Trinity: The latter is both the origin and the end of the Christian World while the former is a Saint worshipped throughout the East and the patron of people performing sea-related activities. Indeed Trieste had been a devotee for centuries: the most ancient shipyard had been entitled to Saint Nicolò too. The Greek Community gave a relevant contribution to the development of the city by founding trade companies, shops for the port markets and insurance institutions. It also enlarged the artistic and architectural legacy with numerous palaces and operated socially, reaching a maximum size of 5000 people. 
Many illustrious people are to be remembered and some of their names identify streets, palaces and villas: Demetrio Carciotti, Giovanni Andrulaki, Giovanni Hatzacosta, Ciriaco Catraro (who promoted the building of the Stock-Exchange palace, now the premises of the Chamber of Commerce), the Galati family (whose palace then became the Palace of the Province), who also donated the San Giovanni area to the city to establish a psychiatric hospital, the Manussis family, who promoted the establishment of a children’s hospital, then entitled to the Burlo Garofolo, Giannichesi, who founded RAS, the Ralli, the Scaramanga, Baron Economo, whose foundation is worth mentioning, and many more. They were among the founders of the Lloyd Austriaco (then Lloyd Triestino). 
The changing socio-economic conditions after the first World War and the war opposing Italy and Greece in the 1940s put the Community in a difficult situation. Today the Community is made up of approximately 600 Greeks, it is tenaciously alive and commits itself to keep on bearing good witness of the hopes of the Nation and of the Light of Orthodoxy.