Pula Tourist Attractions
Pula (Pola) is known as a lively community with good restaurants and cultural events, due largely to the fact that the town is home to a university. Pula is also one of the main economic and industrial hubs in this region. However, this port town is not one of the more visually appealing towns along the coast and does not have a beach. Despite this the town has many upper end hotels and attracts many visitors. The main attractions here are the Roman ruins, in particular the Pula Amphitheatre. During the Roman era the town was called Colonia Julia Pollentia Herculanea. Pula can also be used as a base for exploring the nearby by islands of Brijuni National Park.
Pula Amphitheatre (Arena of Pula)
The Roman Amphitheatre in Pula is one of the largest of its kind, and was built by Emperor Vespasian on the site of smaller amphitheatre. After it was enlarged in the 1st Century, around the same time frame as the construction of the Colosseum in Rome, the Amphitheatre could seat over 20,000 spectators. The arena was used then for gladiator fights and later for knights' tournaments. In the 15th Century stone from the Amphitheatre we taken and used in the construction of other buildings in Pula, including the Castle. Since then it has undergone restoration work at different times and now can seat about 5,000 people. In the summer months it is used to host a variety of festivals and performances.The underground passages contain some archeological finds and exhibits on the local olive industry during ancient times. The Pula Arena is located north of the old city center.
Castle and Historical Museum of Istria
The Venetian Fortress / Castle as it stands today was built over the ruins of the Roman Capitol in 17th Century. It houses the Historical Museum of Istria, which displays a wide variety of exhibits, some of which are relatively unique.The Historical Museum of Istria presents both permanent and temporary exhibitions. On display at the museum are a wide range of collections which cover maritime history, shipbuilding, insignia, diplomas, coats-of-arms, coins, weapons, military equipment, film and video recordings, maps, old postcards, photographs and more.The castle is star-shaped structure with four bastions. It was built by French architect, Antoine de Ville, who specialized in military architecture, as a defensive measure to protect Pula's port. From the castle there are great views out over the town and the sea.
Roman Forum (Temple of Romae and Augustus)
The ancient Roman Forum in Pula is still one of the central gathering places in the city today. The piazza is a pedestrian only area and lined with cafés and restaurants. The best preserved portion of the forum is the Temple of Romae and Augustus (Agustov Hram) on the north side of the piazza. It is dedicated to the Emperor Augustus and the goddess Roma. Usually referred to as just the Temple of Augustus, it was built in the first Century and later converted into a church under Byzantine rule. The temple now displays a number of Roman sculptures. The Temple consists of six columns which make up the open portico. It suffered considerable damage during the Second World War when it was hit by a bomb. Consequently, much of the structure was rebuilt since that time.Also in the Roman forum is the 13th Century Pula town hall.
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
As with many old buildings, the Pula Cathedral (Katedrala) has undergone numerous rebuilds over the years, always with bits and pieces of the former structure incorporated into the new. The Cathedral was originally built in the 5th and 6th Centuries on the site of a former Roman temple, but enlarged in the 10th Century to accommodate a larger congregation. Most of what visitors see today is from the 17th Century, including the Renaissance façade and the bell tower which was built using some stones from the Roman Amphitheatre. The Cathedral suffered considerable damage when Pula was bombed in the Second World War but was restored shortly after the war ended.The interior of the Cathedral contains a 3rd Century Roman sarcophagus altar, and the floor shows fragments of 5th and 6th Century mosaics.
Church and Monastery of St Francis
The Franciscans moved into the Pula area in the 13th Century and the Church and Monastery of St Francis (Sv Frane) were built here in the early 14th Century. The Church of St Frances is a Romanesque style structure containing Gothic decoration, including a Gothic rose window. It is skillfully crafted with fine stonework from that time period. St Francis is a single nave church with three apses and contains a 15th Century wooden altar. The monastery houses a collection of stone monuments and recreations of Istrian Murals. There is also a garden framed by Gothic triumphal arches.Musical concerts are held in the Church of St Francis during the summer months.
Arch of the Sergi (Triumphal Arch of Sergius)
The Arch of Sergi, or the Triumphal Arch of Sergius (Slavoluk obitelji Sergijevaca), was built in the 1st Century BC under the direction of Salvia Postuma Sergia. It stands as a monument to three Sergi family members who fought and died in a battle between the Octavian led Roman fleet and the Egyptian-Roman fleet of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. The Octavian side won the battle.The Arch of Sergi, which leads into the old town, was built in Corinthian style, with fluted columns on either side of the arch with bas relief across the top depicting chariots. Most of the decoration is on the outer side (town side) of the wall.
Archeological Museum of Istria
The main entrance to the Archeological Museum of Istria (Arheoloski Muzej Istre) is actually one of the original gates (Porta Geminna) that served as an entry point into the old Roman town. The museum carries a variety of archeological artifacts from Prehistoric times to the Middle Ages from around Pula and Istria, but focuses heavily on the 2nd to 6th Centuries. The Archeological Museum if Istria is divided up into architectural highlights on the ground floor, Neolithic and Roman era finds on the first floor, Roman antiquities and medieval period artifacts on the second floor. The museum is located just east of the Castle.
Chapel of St Mary of Formosa
A Benedictine Abbey, known as the Basilica of St Mary of Formosa, once stood on this spot where the Chapel of St Mary of Formosa is located. It was built in the 6th century and contained a variety of mosaics, which are now on display in the Archeological Museum of Istria in Pula. The Abbey was torn down in the 16th Century but the small side chapel of St Mary of Formosa was left in tact. It still contains some of the original 6th Century mosaics for which the basilica was well known. The Chapel of St Mary also hosts some changing art exhibitions during the summer months.
Orthodox Church of St Nicholas
One of Pula's small treasures is the Orthodox Church of St Nicholas. The Church of St Nicholas was constructed in the latter part of the 6th Century and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The stone structure has a polygonal apse with windows on the lower level. The church was reconstructed around 1200 and later, around the late 16th Century, was given to the Greek Orthodox community when it became the Church of St Nicholas. The interior contains some unique pieces from the 15th and 16th Centuries.The Church of St Nicholas is located just north of the Castle and Historical Museum.