Want to see a Roman amphitheatre without all the crowds and air pollution? Go to Pula!

We didn’t have enough time to go to Rome on our way to Cres, and I’m glad we didn’t. The remains of the sixth largest Roman amphitheatre in the world can be found in Pula, and its location by the sea makes it absolutely beautiful.

Roman Forum in Pula

Roman Forum in Pula

There is also a Roman Forum in Pula, which I’m interjecting here because I have a picture of it but not much to say, ha ha! It was the Temple of Augustus.

There was no one around when we visited the amphitheatre, except for a German tour group that marched in and marched out in about 15 minutes. We listened to the audio tour and then the girls burned off some steam running around the arena, so we took a little longer.

The ampitheatre was built in the first century AD and is said to have the most intact outer wall of any amphitheatre still standing. Emperor Vespasian was responsible for funding its construction as well as the more well known Colosseum in Rome.

When first built, the amphitheatre sat up to 23,000 people

When first built, the amphitheatre sat up to 23,000 people

About 23,000 spectators could fill the stands to watch gladiator fights, as well as executions-by-animal of criminals and early Christians. Hunting parties were sent around the known world to bring back the most exotic and fierce animals they could find.

(Personally I would prefer a lion, as they suffocate their prey before ripping it apart).

Gladiator fights were eventually outlawed in the 5th century AD, but the amphitheatre continued to be used throughout the Middle Ages by the Knights of Malta for jousting tournaments.

The girls loved running around the arena

The girls loved running around the arena

Unfortunately this secondary use didn’t keep the local population from taking away the stones to build houses and the bell tower for a cathedral. At one point even Venice proposed to remove all of the stones to reconstruct the amphitheatre in the city, but the plan fell apart.

The amphitheatre was eventually protected in the 13th century by a decree that forbid the removal of any more stones.

Today the amphitheatre has been restored, and has seating for 5,000 people. Operas and film festivals are common throughout the summer months. Pula has even held two outdoor hockey games in the arena (who knew it could get that cold here – or that there are that many hockey players!)

One Comment on “Pula

  1. We loved Pula too when we went with Kerry & Lynne back in 2004. Bob and I have seen both the amphitheatre in Rome and the one in Pula and you are right, the Pula amphitheatre is much easier to see without all the crowds. It’s not as big as the one in Rome, making it easier to imagine being back in those times. As well, there’s an excellent museum down where they used to keep the wild animals.
    The whole of the Istrian peninsula is a gem. We love your comments and hearing about your adventures, Haydar. Keep them coming!
    Love Mom/Jen

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