The Port of Trieste was one of the first ports in the world to equip itself with a Hydrodynamic Power Station. The complex of the Hydrodynamic Power Station of Porto Vecchio in Trieste is considered a jewel of industrial archeology. It was among the first to be built between 1887 and 1890 in the historic port district of Trieste, based on the project of the Trieste engineer Luigi Buzzi.
With a rectangular shape of 90 x 25 meters it came into operation in 1891 and became the energy center of the entire old port. All the steam engines capable of handling the cranes, the freight elevators of the docks and warehouses of the port that operated up to six kilometers away were concentrated in a single plant. The drawbridge, located on the Trieste shores, which crossed the Ponterosso Canal, was also operated by the Hydrodynamic Power Station.
The facade, in classical style and embellished with simple decorations, after the restoration, was colored in “Austrian yellow”, almost a tribute to the Habsburg origins of the Old Port.
The hydrodynamic system is still well preserved today and consists of: four machines, pumps, made by “Breitfeld-Danek & Co” of Prague-Karolinenthal and a fifth for smaller productions;
two tanks placed on the large mezzanine; three of the ten large Lancashire Cornish-type boilers produced in Vienna and, finally, two hydraulic accumulators located in the two twin towers, about 20 meters high, built on either side of the main entrance.
A third tower, the piezometric tower, connected to the power plant was located at the entrance to the port about 1500 meters away and allowed the stabilization of the water pressure.
The hydrodynamic pole is completed by a chimney about 40 meters high and, at the time, also by a coal deposit and a repair shop.
Over time, the hydrodynamic system proved insufficient to sustain the necessary expansion and, in 1913, on the design of the architect Zaninovich, a new building was built in the area adjacent to the power plant which housed the electrical conversion substation, which was operational until to 1989 and partially in use until 2006. The power plant provided energy for almost a hundred years until June 15, 1988 when the Port Authority decommissioned it due to the very high maintenance costs and the adoption of more modern technologies for the supply of motive power to port facilities. Since 2011 the building has been restored and has become a museum center.