Pula is the biggest city in Istria, with excellently preserved antique heritage. Aside from the glorious Arena, there is an old town and the Archaeological Museum. Arena is a symbol of Pula and its most famous monument. This Roman amphitheatre is the sixth biggest in the world, and exceptionally well preserved. Aside from being a priceless cultural landmark, today it serves as a stage for renowned world musicians and Croatian movies. Legend says that Pula was established by Colchis seafarers in search of the Golden Fleece some 3000 years ago. From Illyrian times to Austro-Hungarian military port, Pula was always a regional centre. To the south of the town lies Punta Verudela, a tourist complex with all types of accommodation, apartments, cycling tracks and promenades, pools and beaches, and numerous other tourist facilities. Pula is excellent location for vacation.
In order to see how Pula looked like 2000 years ago, first visit the Arena, and then walk down Istarska street towards the centre and visit the Twin gates, remains of the small roman theatre, the Hercules gates, the Sergius' Arch and finally the Temple of Augustus at the Forum. Pula used to have 12 gates: 7 on the coastal site and 5 on the mainland. The Hercules gates are the oldest Roman monument in Pula. On the top of the arch, there is Hercules's head and club, and on the left side, there is an inscription with the names of Cassius and Calpurnius, that formed the Roman colony. They used to serve as entrance into the Roman theatre, and today serve as an entrance to the Archeological Museum of Istria. In the first century, Pula had two roman theatres. The large one seated 4000 people, and due to its size it was located outside the city walls and the small theatre seated 2000 people. Monuments from the small theatre are kept in Archaeological Museum of Istria. Since the Roman times, arches were built in honour of emperors, but the Sergius' Arch was built in honor of civilians, the three members of the Sergius family that held high functions in Pula. Its beauty and rich reliefs attracted the attention of many painters. The Temple of Augustus is one of the three temples that used to stand on the former main Roman square, the Forum. It was built between 2 BC and 14 AD and it was dedicated to the goddess Roma and Emperor Augustus. It is 17 m high and 6 m wide and was used as a church and a wheat silo. Today it houses an exhibition of Antique stone and bronze sculptures. Archeological Museum houses the majority of archeological findings discovered in Istria. Its holdings are divided into three collections; Prehistoric, Antique and Medieval. Exhibition includes amber necklaces from the Bronze age, a rock crystal dish, a Byzantine ivory chest, etc. Pula also has numerous churches, monuments of several hundreds of years of Christianity. The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was finished in the 6th century on the site of a Roman temple, and later an Old Christian basilica. St Francis' Church is one of the most beautiful sacral objects in Pula, a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic style, from the 13th century. The three wings of the monastery and the church close the inner courtyard which hoses a lapidarian. The Church of Our Lady of the sea was built by the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the 19th century commemorating deceased sailors and sunken ships. Emperor Franz Joseph attended the opening, and legend says that he scraped a marble column looking for gold suggesting that construction coasts were too high. There are also Church of St Nicholas, Church of Our Lady of Mercy and Chapel of St Mary Formoza.
Forum is the centre of old Pula and is located in the western part of the city, below the hills where the Citadela is located. The biggest reminder of the antique Forum is the Temple of Augustus, one of three temples that stood there. In the middle was the temple dedicated to Jupiter and Minerva, and around it were the Temple of Augustus and a temple believed to be dedicated to Diana. Pula was the religious, administrative, judicial and commercial centre of the city. On the site of the Temple of Diana, the City Hall was built in 1296. During the Venetian rule, this building accommodated the duke and procurator, and today it accommodates the mayor. On a hill in the centre of the old town is situated Venetian Citadel built in 1632 to defend the city. Today it accommodates the Historical Museum of Istria with rich holdings of weaponry, uniforms and military gear. The busiest street in the old part of Pula lined with shops is the Sergijevaca street. This dynamic pedestrian street is always full of life, and takes you around the old part of Pula directly to the Forum. Another symbol and pride of Pula were the Pula parks, and most of them were created during the Austro-Hungarian rule. In the Naval Park, the oldest park in Pula, exotic trees grow whose seedlings were brought by sailors from their voyages. The largest park in Pula is Monte Zaro with around twenty Mediterranean species, while the most beautiful park is “Pod Arenom”, located on a slope in front of the Arena. Very interesting to see is also the Pula Aquarium. It is located in a 124 year old Austro-Hungarian Fort Verudela on the peninsula of the same name. In about 40 fish tanks on two floors, on the surface of 1200 m2, you can see plant and animal life of the Adriatic and protected and poisonous marine species.
Turistic facilities of Pula
Accommodation possibilities are numerous, including quality hotels, apartments, rooms and camping sites. Punta Verudela, one of the best known Pula peninsulas, houses a tourist complex with well regulated, mostly rocky and pebble beaches, numerous cafes and sport facilities. Nearby is the favorite seaside promenade in Pula, leading from the Valkane bay, through Gortanova bay all the way to Valsaline. Very popular beach is the golden cliffs located on the Monsival peninsula. Situated close is the apartment complex Horizont within which there is a store, a cafe and restaurants, and you can also rent a bike, pedal boat, rent chairs and umbrellas. The beach in Stoja is known as the most beautiful in Pula, and a bus from the centre of Pula takes you there. The beach is mostly rocky and eponymous peninsula is also the location of the well known camp.
Environs of Pula
Surroundings of Pula are also very interesting. The southernmost point of the Istria peninsula is an area of protected nature, with numerous bays and minute hidden rocky beaches. If Robinson like tourism is your thing, than this is the place for you. In Medulin is one of the best beaches in the entire Adriatic for vacationing with children, who will surely enjoy the aqua slide. In Medulin bay we can recommend swimming and excursions to the islands Bodulaš and Ceja, where catering facilities are, and which can be reached by public boat transport. In Premantura, aside from the public beach Munte with usual facilities, most of the beaches near the Cape Kamenjak are rocky, but the clarity and color of the sea are breathtaking. If you're interested in windsurfing, Premantura is the place for you. With all that Pula will certainly provide you an unforgettable vacation.