Important road and rail junction, lively trade, craft and tertiary centre, Portogruaro has wide historic and artistic interest so much so as to be a "must" for visitors just passing through. Even the most demanding tourist will be satisfied. This small town preserves in its historical centre its original town plan, really enjoyable for its elegance, for the particular Venetian influence of its palaces and the enchanting views on the Lemene river. It is impossible to define the origin of the settlement. The first documentation is a concession dating from 986 with which Emperor Otto III allowed the Bishop of Concordia dominion of the territory. Already in the 10th century a fortified castle should have existed on the right bank of the river. This was built by the Bishops of Concordia as their residence, not feeling protected enough among the ruins of the ancient Roman town. This primitive settlement steadily grew from 1140 when the Bishop Gervino gave a part of the left bank of the Lemene in order to establish a port with relevant commercial facilities. Since it was founded, Portogruaro belonged to the area of political dominion of Aquileia, which also included Concordia. But the traders, who had greatly contributed to the development of the town, soon started to demand political independence and gradually entered the area of Venetian dominion.
During the 14th century the patriarch tried to keep political control of the city, but because of the particular situation of the Aquileia Patriarchate which was divided by civil strife and attacked by the German Emperors from the North, Venice entered the fray and after many events advanced on the Patriarchal State.
From this moment Portogruaro followed the Venetian republic’s destiny, until 1797 (Campoformido Treaty) getting further important trade privileges reaching during the 15th and the 16th centuries its maximum splendour and the peak of artistic and cultural growth.
The 17th century marked the economic decline of the town. The enormous farming increase was fundamental for the economic revival of the area, thanks to the reclamation, which started during the last decades of the 19th century and terminated following the Second World War. This work enabled farming to be carried out throughout the whole coastal area.
Nowadays Portogruaro is an important trade centre again, in particular in the public and private sectors.
The entrance to the city is the 13th century St. John Gate, rebuilt in the 16th century.
A short way off St. John’s church, built in 1338, houses a marble statue ("Madonna with child"), first half of the 14th century; an altar piece with apostles and saints by Leandro da Ponte, Jacopo da Bassano’s son, a Fresco on the Presbytery vault ("Triumph of Eucharist") by Andrea Urbani. The 18th century chapel dedicated to "our lady of sorrows", object of popular devotion, is evocative. The town hall built in brick fašade is a characteristic gothic building with an outside corner stair and small bell gable. Next to the town hall, you can have a look at the "small well of cranes", symbol of the city.
Behind the town hall there is the fishmarket with its loggia and the small oratory built by the fishermen of Caorle, evident testimony of the city’s past dock activities.
One of the most charming and striking characteristics is that of the watermill on the Lemene river, built by Bishop Feletto in 1477.
The Cathedral with its leaning tower is interesting. Among the many and remarkable town palaces are the Muschietti, Moro and Imposte, De Goetzen Palace, Dal Moro Palace, the Villa Comunale whose elegance and Renaissance style can be admired. The inside houses the fascinating Paleonthologic Museum "Michele Gortani".