Pula, the essence of Ancient Rome in Croatia

Within the Istrian peninsula, northwest of Croatia and looking at the Adriatic, Pula catches our attention for its landscapes, but especially for its history. A story that takes us to ancient Rome, when this was an important city within the Empire.

Pula: a mythical place

The history of this metropolis has mythological origins. According to legend, a group of colquídeos was chasing Jason to recover the stolen Vellocino. When they failed in their objective they did not dare to return to their country because of the dishonor that the failure entails and they stayed to found a city, Pula.

Roman door - Arth63

Beyond the myth, Pula has been an important enclave since ancient Rome. And walking through its streets you can easily perceive the splendor it had at that time. A city with an important forum, with theaters, with temples and also with water supply and sewerage system, as the most advanced cities of the Roman Empire.

«Traveling makes one modest. You see the small place you occupy in the world. »

-Gustave Flaubert-

The Roman legacy in Pula

From the time when Pula was a Roman city, wonderful remains remain. Let's meet them:

1. Amphitheater

Amphitheater - Littleaom

It dates from the time of Augustus (1st century) and is a contemporary of the Colosseum in Rome. In its best times it had the capacity to house 20,000 people. In fact, It is the sixth largest amphitheater in the world, with a major axis that reaches 130 meters.

Wonderful with your 72 arc elliptical plant, Limestone was used for its construction and continued to be used in the Middle Ages for tournaments and men's fairs. What is surprising is that it has reached our days. The reason is that in later centuries, as happened with the Colosseum, this amphitheater was used as a quarry for other constructions in the city.

It is currently the headquarters of the Summer Festival, which includes operas, concerts and equestrian festivals with a capacity of 5000 spectators. And it is fantastic to discover the old underground galleries where the gladiators waited before jumping into the sand, tunnels converted today into exhibition halls.

2. Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe - Andrej Antic

From the amphitheater you can walk to the city center along the old Via Flavia, the main artery of Pula in Roman times. The oldest monument, the Gate of Hercules, which was the gateway to the city and not completely preserved, is crossed through it.

Thus one arrives at another of the Roman emblems of Pula, the Arc de Triomphe of Sergius. It was built between the years 29 and 27 BC. by order of the family of the Sergios. The objective was to honor with him three of its members who held relevant positions in the city.

This arch was supported by another of the access doors to the city, the Golden Gate. This structure, unfortunately, was demolished in the 19th century along with many of the ancient walls that surrounded Pula.

3. Forum and Temple of Augustus

Temple of Augustus - oss Helen

As in any other Roman city, the forum was the epicenter of political and social life. It was Augustus who ordered a temple to be built in honor of the goddess Rome, possibly between the years 2 B.C. and 14 A.D. It is practically the only thing that remains of the old forum.

Throughout its history, the temple was used as a church and even barn. In World War II it was bombed and destroyed in its entirety. However, years later it would be possible to rebuild it thanks to a thorough work.

Today it houses an important collection of reliefs.Next to it we can find the remains of a twin temple. Of him only the back part is conserved and it is believed that it was built in honor of Diana.

4. Dirce's punishment

Roman mosaic - Wojgniew / commons.wikimedia.org

The bombings of World War II destroyed part of the heritage of Pula, but also brought some remains to light. It is what happened with the Dirce's punishment mosaic, a wonderful work which represents how Dirce is punished by Zeus and tied to a bull.

It is believed that this beautiful mosaic 12 meters long and 3 meters wide It was part of a Roman villa. Today you can see a couple of meters below ground level and perfectly protected.