Pula is the largest city in Istria, located in the southwest of this peninsula in a well-protected bay. Known for its mild climate, calm sea and unspoiled nature, it is attractive to a large number of domestic and foreign tourists. Let’s discover this town with a long tradition of winemaking, fishing, shipbuilding and tourism.
Main article photo by Slaven Radolovic
PULA TRAVEL GUIDE
HISTORY OF PULA
The city of Pula is more than 3,000 years old and was built on a hill Kaštel. That was the original village, Histra. Today there is nothing left of these prehistoric ruins, except a round shape of two major city streets. The real history of the city began with the Romans. The official name of the city was Colonia Pietas Iulia Pola, and had all the functions and buildings typical for Roman settlement. At the time of people's migrations in the 7th century, Pula's surrounding area became inhabited by Slavs and Croats.
Photo by: Zoran Burazerovic
After 1331, Pula became the property of Venetians which showed no interest in the economic development of the city because it was the most important port as a transit point on the way from Venice along the Adriatic coast to the Levant. The outbreaks of the plague in the 14th century, as well as endemic malaria and other diseases, drastically reduced the population So, at the end of 17th century, Pula counted 600 inhabitants only. However, in the period of Humanism and Renaissance, Pula's ancient monuments have become widely known in European cultural circles, so many artists and builders of the 16th, 17th and 18th century lived in Pula drawing and describing the Roman buildings that served as a model of architecture from the Renaissance to Classicism. After the fall of Venice, Istria and Pula came under the Austrian crown.
Photo by: Zoran Burazerović
From 1815 until the end of World War I, Pula was part of the Austrian Littoral (Küstenland). After the opening of Arsenal (the main base of the Austrian navy) in 1856, has began the modern development of the city and the whole southern Istria. After 1876, linked by rail with the line Vienna – Trieste, Pula and the nearby Brijuni felt the beginnings of tourism.
Photo by: Ki Ka
During the 20th century, the government in Pula has been changed for multiple times, and the citizens were coming and leaving the area of Pula, social and national groups of people have been changing especially after the World War I and II. Pula has been badly damaged by bombing during the World War II, but in the second half of the 20th century it has been flourished once again and has developed into the largest Istrian city, significant for two main economic activities: industry, led by shipbuilding, and tourism.
Speaking of things that you must see in Pula, we must start with the most known monument with which begins and ends each tour of Pula, the Amphitheater, popularly known as Arena. It was built during the 1st century, in the time of Emperor Vespasian and it staged the gladiator fights. Today various summer events are organized in Arena, and in the underground room is a permanent exhibit of "Olive oil and wine manufacturing in ancient Istria ". Then we have the “Golden Gate” that was raised by Sergi family to honour of three high official family members. The arch was leaning to the city gate “Porta Aurea”, thus called because of gilded gates. Doors and rampart were demolished at the beginning of the 19th century due to urbanization and the expansion of the city outside the walls.
Photo by: Zoran Burazerovic
The Gate of Hercules contains inscriptions of prime historical significance because it mentions names of two Roman officials who established the ancient Pula (Gaius Cassius Longinus and Lucius Calpurnius Piso). The Double Gate leads to the Archaeological Museum and to Kaštel where you can find the Small Roman Theatre of which have remained the foundations of stage building and the audience that is partially reconstructed. One of the most important things to see is Forum, the main city square on the west part of Pula, near the coast. There were once located all city functions - religious, administrative, judicial and economic.
Photo by: Sandi Gadžur
In the northern part of Forum stood two twin temples and a central one dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. One of them is fully preserved Temple of Augustus while of the second temple is still visible back wall which was used in the construction of the town hall in the 18th century. There are several churches to visit in Pula. The Church and Monastery of St. Francis on the slope of the hill between the Forum and the upper circular street, the Chapel of St. Mary Formosa, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas built in the 6th century. The House of Croatian Defenders built in 1872, once was the navy casino, and the other palace built 40 years later was the palace which used for concerts and dance. Speaking of navy, you can’t miss the Navy Cemetery which today offers a walk through a beautiful park and some kind of history of Pula.
Photo by: Foto Basso
ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT
You can easily reach Pula by bus, car, train, plane or boat. The newest connection to Dalmatian town Split is by seaplane. If you want to discover Pula, the best way to do it is by your feet as all of the city attractions are very near to each other. Nowadays you can rent an electric bike which is a very nice experience. Of course, you can use your own car or you can rent it, you can use public transport (city bus) or taxi (which is pretty expensive though). There are also guided tours by touristic bus. If you look for a place to stay in Pula, there is a large offer of hotels, hostels, camps, private accommodation, accommodation in special touristic villages. Maybe you would like to stay in a lighthouse? You can do it too! If you need an airport transfer or taxi in Pula feel free to contact Taxi Pula
Photo by: Borna Ćuk
WHAT TO DO IN PULA
In Pula, you can spend your time drinking coffee in some of the numerous cafe bars in the city centre or in some of the beach bars around Pula. That’s what Pula citizens usually do in their spare time. If you want a cultural boost, you can visit some of the museums (Archaeological Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria, Agripina’s house, etc.) or some gallery. There are many restaurants where you can eat when you get hungry, and we suggest to take some fish or other seafood because you are in a coastal town. In the touristic village of Verudela is located the Aquarium of Pula which is very interesting to see, especially because it is the recovery centre for injured turtles.
Photo by: Sandro Stehlik
Take your swimming suits and visit one of many city beaches, enjoy in pure Adriatic sea and soak up the sun. If you like active vacations more than sunbathing, then you have a wide variety of sports to do. Diving, fishing, windsurfing, sailing, yoga on surfboarding, full moon kayaking, sightseeing flights, golf, carting are some of the most interesting. The best kayak tours in Pula are Go To Istria. Don’t forget to visit island national park Brijuni and nature park Kamenjak where you can see dinosaur footprints.
Photo by: Bojan Širola
Want to watch the film under the stars? Sure, you can do it during Pula Film Festival in July, it is really special experience. Don’t miss light festival "Visualia" or music festivals Dimensions and Outlook. As well excursion around Brijuni islands is a good idea. We definitely recommend it.
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