The Arena is the monument which is the most significant and well-known of Pula, on the southern tip of the area of Istria in Croatia. Before that, this area was part of the Roman Empire, and they constructed what is now named after Arena di Pola. Here there were were organized gladiatorial fights. It was constructed in the 1st century, in the time of Emperor Vespasian, alongside the most famous style construction, the Colosseum in Rome. It is elliptical. In the center, there is a flat space, which acted as the arena for fighting. In total, over 20,000 people came to see the fights. The structure is of limestone of the area and is well preserved today. Now it is used for summer events, the film festival, the opera season, the equestrian festival, concerts ... with today's security measures, it can hold only 5000 people. You can visit it during the day, but I found it very interesting, because outside you see almost everything. Seeing a show has to be something else.
After the founding of the Pula fort in 1856, an era began during which a lot was built in a very short time. The Austro-Hungarian fleet required plenty of support buildings: a military hospital, a cemetery, numerous barracks, officers' clubs, military and civilian offices...and all of them were constructed in just two decades. In 1903, the market building was inaugurated. It was a strange structure for the time, made with modern materials like glass and metal. The whole wall is built of glass, supported by a metal skeleton. It is the center of city life in the morning and if you go for a walk there you'll get a good feel for Pula and its Mediterranean culture, which the Austrians and their military failed to change. You can appreciate the sculptures and decorations done in the Viennese style, too.
The journey between Rijeka and Pula can be taken along the coast, a scenic road through a pine forest or more quickly on the highway, but without any charm. We took the pretty road and, after 10 km, we reached the town of Opatija. There is no beach but it is a pretty fishing village. Following the road going up more and more, you get to the hills and you have great views of the sea. Eventually, the road curves inland and you arrive at Pula, another beautiful city full of history with one of the largest Roman amphitheatres outside Italy, better preserved than the Colosseum. The road is worth it for the scenery you come across.
The tourist information office Pula is in the ancient Roman Forum. The square, which has always been the historic center of the city, remains one of the niceset in the city. The tourist office has maps, and you can help organize your trip in the lovely area of Istria. Email is tz-pula@pu.Htnet.Hr and contact before your arrival to have the information on accommodation and transport. They speak English. Many people get to Pula via plane with Ryanair, or from Trieste in Italy. They then rent a car, and visit the different points of interest in the area. The tourist information office is also in a historic building of interest. It is a lovely medieval castle, constructed at the time by one of the most powerful families in Pula. Pula was part of the Venetian Empire, and was an important trading port in the Adriatic. Not much information in Spanish, but in Italian.
The Pula Communal Palace was once the Roman temple of Diana. Today, the town hall showcases a great mixture of architectural styles, with ancient Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and contemporary art all rubbing shoulders. The walls show images from the history of Pula as this building has been the center of the local government for as long as anyone can remember - during the Roman Empire, the Venetian Republic, and now today as part of the independent Republic of Croatia. The Gothic facade, dating to the thirteenth century, is a testament to the city's wealth, when it was one of the most important ports on the Adriatic Sea.
The History Museum of Istria is in Pula Castle. It is up the hill around which the city is built and was built in the sixteenth century. The entrance to the museum costs $ 2 and it closes early in the afternoon. Inside there is an incredible collection of documents and photos related to the region of Istria, as well as explanations of its complicated history. Consecutively, it was part of the Roman Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Austro Hungarian empire, French, Yugoslav and now is Croatian owned. There is a large collection of postcards depicting the region over time, the oldest are from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There are 6500 cards in total, from 1991. The castle was converted into a museum in 1955. It was then the Museum of the Revolution, founded by the Communist regime. Today is a public institution that is responsible for the preservation of the historical heritage of the city from the Middle Ages to today. Among the sections are the history of Pula, Istrian medieval history and the permanent collections. There are religious symbols, stamps, coins - a total of 40000 items that explain the history of the region.
The Temple of Augustus, and the ruins of the Temple of Diana, the Capitolo and the Basilica, or which were then integrated into the Communal Palace medieval architectural complex is the most significant historical part of the city of Pula. It is the only of its kind to be so well preserved in Croatia, and is something not so common in Europe as a whole. Forums, dominated by temples and basilicas, were the centers of the Roman cities, and at the same time, were the most significant social area. It was where people met to talk about important issues. The Capitolo temple, probably dedicated to Hercules, patron of the city of Pula, dominated it. The basilica was not a religious monument but parts for judicial, administrative and business offices of the city. Then there were the twin temples, the temple of Diana Augusto east and west, of which only is the temple of Augustus in the square today. You can not enter because it is very fragile but its beautiful facade is used in the Forum.
This holiday took place a week before my wedding accompanied by my soon to be future wife. The arrival on the island is idyllic, sailing from the town of Fazana and reaching the island port of Veli Brijun (meaning Great Brijun).The Brijuni islands consist of 14 islands, of which the most important is Veli Brijun. These islands have passed through the ownership of the Roman Empire, Venice, Austro-Hungary, and Yugoslavia and now have finally become a nature park in Croatia. During the day, a maximum of 400 people are allowed on the island, so after renting bicycles or golf carts (no traditional cars are allowed on the island) and you can take a turn around the island, it is very rare to meet someone on the way. The entire coast is formed by rocks that allow you to rest anytime during the ride to dive into the clear waters of the Adriatic. They even have their own safari trip with animals brought from all over the world by the former dictator of Yugoslavia, Tito. An really unforgettable experience! Highly recommended!
The city walls represent the oldest part of the Roman defensive walls. At this time, Pula was part of the Roman Empire and its geographical location was strategic, so that it could defend against invasions. The walls were destroyed and improved with each reconstruction. The Gate of Hercules is the oldest monument of Roman architecture in Pula, built around the first century BC. The face of Hercules is carved into the central stone. This then became the symbol of the ancient city of Pola, the Roman Pula. He is represented in what looks like a gown. The inscription on the door indicates that the Roman colony of Pola began around the year 45 BC.
Before being Croatian, the small town of Pula in Istria was a Roman colony, and slowly developed as a Christian and later Catholic hub. On the hill of Pula past the Roman Forum, you'll find the fourteenth-century Monastery and Church of St. Francis. The site where the monastery was built was a place of worship for centuries beforehand. Built in 1314 in the late Romanesque style, the monastery also includes some Gothic details. It's simple in some ways, as the Franciscans had taken a vow of poverty and humility, but still the fineness of the work of square blocks used for the walls prove the great skill and ability of the craftsmen of the time.
Pula Cathedral is a typical Adriatic episcopal building, and you can see many similar churches in the region of Istria. During the first phase of its construction in the fourth century, the cathedral was built on the foundations of an old building. It was built at the same time as the church of St. Thomas, which was converted into a basilica with three naves and is another characteristic building of the northern Adriatic. The cross-shaped baptistery and episcopal court were also built next door, but these were destroyed in the nineteenth century, after the religious headquarters of the region were moved to Porec in 1828. In the early eighteenth century, during the reign of Bishop Bottari, a huge renovation project was started with the goal of reconstructing the entire basilica and the Baroque tower. This project was finally completed in 1924. Now the cathedral occupies a central place in the city and has a truly unbeatable location, standing at the heart of the main square of Pula. The monastery courtyard continues to stand open, offering a little garden in the square.
The central square of the ancient, medieval town of Pula lies at the foot of the hill near the sea on the west side of the city. Its construction dates all the way back to the first century, when this part of the Adriatic coast was conquered and developed by the Romans as a foothold on the way to even more distant lands. The Roman Forum was the seat of all the civic, religious, administrative, judicial and economic life of the city. In the north there were two temples, dedicated to Minerva and Juno. The remains of the Temple of Augustus were used later to build the town hall and municipal palace. More remains have been found recently on the site, with the construction of new buildings, and it's still a lively, central location in the city, where you'll find plenty of cafes and restaurants.
The city of Pula is built around a hill, but in the center you won't find ordinary homes; rather, you'll find the huge Pula Castle. The castle served to defend the Italian city against the attacks of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and later the French. It takes about ten minutes of walking to get to the castle, where you'll find a small museum. It was built in 1630 based on a plan by the French military architect Antoine de Ville who'd been commissioned by the Venetian government. Pula was then part of the Venetian Empire, and its strategic position meant that it was potentially more vulnerable against enemy attacks. The castle was designed to defend the city and the port, which was essential for marine traffic in the upper Adriatic Sea. An old Roman construction stood on the site before, but nothing remains of that today.
Below the pretty village of Brsec is a beautiful cove with clear sea, not many people and great sun. There is no shade between 10 am and 5 pm, so you should ideally take a parasol but, if not, a lot of suncream, a towel for cover and plenty of water. With the islands ahead, you feel like you are in a lake or in the Adriatic Sea. The water is 22 degrees, a bit cool compared to the heat on the ground, but perfect after a spot of sunbathing. The problem is that, to get back into the village of Brsec, you have to climb! About 30 minutes at least, unless you find a car to take you up. But, like all beautiful places, it is worth it. You don't get many tourists as it is a little more remote. There are other similar places in the area.
This is one of the two chapels from the sixth century that were part of a large Benedictine abbey that was demolished in the sixteenth century. It follows the style of Ravenna churches, although with stone instead of brick, a precious architectural example from the era. Right next to the old pedestrianised town near the sea.
The quantity and quality of the things to do in Pula is immense. This city in Croatia gives off an air of ancient Rome and offers tourists a walk through its history and its mythological origins.
Of the first things to see in Pula is the amphitheater-Flavijevska, a place that in the past was home to important gladiators shows. The subterranean passageways are one of the best places to visit in Pula, and are currently used as exhibition halls dedicated to the local wine scene and and culture of the olive. One of the best attractions in Pula, this amphitheater is a a marvel from both inside and outside its walls.
More places to visit in Pula include the Arc de Triomphe of the Sergius, Golden Gate, and the Temple of Augustus, built between 2 BCE and 14 CE. More Pula attractions include the Gate of Hercules, the church and monastery of San Francisco, and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. More Pula attractions include walking along the old medieval walls in which old twin doors built between the second and third centuries are located.
Another of the most popular Pula activities is a visit to see the remains of the mosaic called 'The Punishment of Dirce'. If you are after more stuff to do in Pula, there are many old Roman mosaics that excite visitors and locals alike.
For the best information on what to do in Pula, Minube offers a wealth of assistance to help you organise and begin your dream holiday!