Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pula, Croatia

Pula is a town on the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula in Croatia.  It was founded around 3,000 years ago by the Illyrians.  It became part of the Holy Roman Empire in 177 BC.  From about the 7th century onward, ownership of the town changed hands quite a bit.  Eventually, it became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  After WWI, the area became a part of Italy.  After WWII, Pula was controlled by the Allies until 1947, when the region became part of Croatia within Yugoslavia.

Today, Pula has a population of ~57,000 people.  It is best known for its many ancient Roman buildings.

The Arena is a 1st century BC amphitheater.  It is the 6th largest surviving Roman arena in the world.  Back in the day it could seat around 20,000 people.

Once home to gladiator fights, the city now uses it for summer film festivals.  During WWII, the Italians tried to disassemble it so that they could move it to Italy.  Fortunately, that plan was scrapped due to the cost.

The Gemini Gates date back to the mid-2nd century.  It is one of the few gates that remain after the city walls were brought down at the start of the 19th century.

Hercules is Pula's town patron.  The Gate of Hercules dates back to the 1st century.  In the center of the arch is a bust of Hercules.
Remnants of a 1st century mausoleum
The Arch of Sergii, also known as the Golden Gate, is a Roman triumphal arch that commemorates three brothers of the Sergii family.  It was built between 29 – 27 BC.  It was originally a city gate.

Near the arch is a statue of author James Joyce.  The writer lived in Pula in 1904-1905.  The statue, at a local cafe, was unveiled in 2003.

The Augustan Forum is the main square in the city center.  It was built in the 1st century BC.  Here the Temple of Augustus was built from 2 BC to 14 AD.  The temple is co-dedicated to the goddess Roma and Emperor Augustus.  Inside is a collection of stone and bronze sculptures.

The Temple of Hercules and the Temple of Diana were merged together to form the town hall.

The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in the 6th century.  Over the centuries the church as been enlarged and rebuilt.  I'm not sure when the bell tower was built.

The Church of St. Francis was built in 1314.  There is an adjoining 14th century monastery.

The belfry of the Franciscan church is the highest in Pula.

The castle, and its four bastions, is on top of the central hill in the old town.  It dates back to the 17th century. 

The Historical Museum of Istria has been located inside the castle since 1961.

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