Jewel of the verdant peninsula of Istria, Pula is the province’s largest city and forms a dramatic gateway to the seductive, crystalline waters of the Adriatic. Situated at the southernmost tip of the area, which has come to be known as ’the new Tuscany’ for its bright medieval hilltop towns and ancient ruins, Pula boasts a rich and varied cultural heritage.
The city is bordered by national parks remarkable for their astounding unspoilt natural beauty and is celebrated for its wonderfully preserved Roman amphitheatre and forum, which form a dramatic backdrop for leisurely strolls from the old town to the coast.
Check us out on the map
Things to do
There is plenty to see and do in Pula! Here are five things not to miss
- The Amphitheater
The most famous and important monument in Pula, and the starting and ending point of every sightseeing tour is the Amphitheater, which is better known as the Arena. This was once the venue for gladiator fights. It was raised in the 1st century AD during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. It was built at the same time as the biggest and most well-known monument of its type - the Coliseum in Rome.
The ground plan is elliptical. The longer axis measures about 130 meters and the shorter one about 100 meters. Gladiator fights took place in the central flat area called the arena, while the spectators sat on the stone tiers or stood in the gallery. It is believed that the Amphitheater could seat about 20,000 spectators. Local limestone was used in its construction. In the Middle Ages, it was the site of knights' tournaments and fairs.
Today it is the venue for summer events such as the Film Festival, the Opera Season, the Equestrian Festival, and various concerts. It can seat about 5,000 spectators. The underground passages, once used by the gladiators, nowadays host a regular exhibition of viticulture and olive-growing in Istria in ancient times. The exhibits include reconstructions of equipment once used for producing olive oil and wine (mills, presses, vessels) and amphorae used for storing and transporting it.
Because of its size and geographical configuration, the Arena is situated outside the old city walls. The road that leads to the center was constructed during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian, after whom it was named - Via Flavia. Even today it's one of the city's main roads.
- The Triumphal Arch of the Sergi - the Golden Gate
The Golden Gate was erected between 29 and 27 BC by the Sergi family in honor of three members of the family who held important positions in Pula at that time. This triumphal arch leaned against the city gate of Porta Aurea, thus called because of its richly ornamented arch and gilded elements. The gate and wall were pulled down at the beginning of the 19th century as a result of the city's expansion beyond its walls.
The Arch was constructed in the Corinthian style with strong Hellenistic and Asia Minor influences both in the manner and motifs of its ornamentation. As the eastern side was not visible, it has remained for the most part uncarved, while the western, town side is richly decorated. Today numerous cultural performances, both theatrical and musical, are held on the square next to the Arch. The adjacent street is a shopping area.
The Forum is the main square in the center of the city. The square is built on the place of the ancient Roman forum. On the square there is city hall that was built in 10th century (parts of an old temple were used for the building as it can be seen on the rear side of the hall) and the Temple of August, from the first century.
- Pula Aquarium
The aquarium contains Adriatic flora and fauna, including protected and poisonous marine organisms. These are found in approximately 40 pools, covering 1200 m2. There is also a marine turtle rescue centre, an exhibition entitled "Old Fishing Equipment", another called "Save the Neptune Grass (Posedonia Oceanica)", and an exhibition of photographs of Pula's fortifications and items from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, as well as a small marine theatre. For more information click here.
- National Park Brijuni
Visit Brijuni. Group of islands famous for their scenic beauty. They are a holiday resort and a Croatian National Park. They were also setlement in roman times and were part of Republic of Venice. There is also now famous Tito (leader of former Yugoslavia) residence. Boats go from small town near Pula named Fažana.