Stories of Pula

Facts about Pula

View of the Pula amphitheater from the marina

View of the Pula Amphitheatre from the Marina

Pula is a Croatian city situated in peninsula Istria on the Eastern Adriatic coast and counts a population of around 60 000. The climate here is great! Somewhere between mild Continental and Mediterranean, actually. Because of the proximity of the sea, the summers aren’t as warm as in the continent, and the winters are mild. Sometimes you have a feeling that you’ve skipped winter and entered from autumn directly to spring.

Mild winter at the seaside

Mild winter at the seaside

There are numerous attractions of this city and the surrounding area, starting from its natural beauties with Mediterranean vegetation, clear sea and a great number of, mainly rocky, beaches; there are numerous historical sites that need to be seen, especially from the Roman era; the gastronomic offer has developed in the last decade together with the wine-making; and last but not least there is a huge number of various events that start in the spring, peak in the summer, and last until late fall. The beauties of Pula and Istria have been recognized by the National Geographic Traveler whose editors have selected Istria as one of the top 10 world destinations in 2013.


The oldest known people in Istria

The first people in Istria that can be for sure named are Histri and Liburni. Archeology and some rare ancient inscriptions are the only sources that can tell us about these prehistorical people. Some 30 centuries ago Histri left their inhabitants in the open and their caves and founded permanent settlements on hills that we call gradine – a type of hillforts. Gradine were well defended by tall walls built by a specific stone block building technique of stone block building.  There are 520 of them in Istria today. Histri have built mostly square houses without the binding materials, but some of the houses were oval and they were the predecessors of today’s kažuni, shepherd’s and farmer’s shelters.  Their art prior to Roman occupation was very high and spiritual. They were polytheists and they worshiped their own, mostly female, gods. The contemporaries of Histri described them as tall and strong people, altough from today’s perspective it wouldn’t seem so: their men were high as today’s average women. During droughts they engaged in a kind of secondary business – pirating the Roman and Greek merchant ships.

The Roman arrival

Pula has a 3.000 year-old history. But the real, urban history, begins with the year 177 BC when the ancient Romans said “enough was enough” and decided to conquer Istria. What bothered them so much in the Istrian peninsula? Well, they seemed to mind the constant pirate attacks on their ships in the northern Adriatic. The attackers were the members of one of the Illyric tribes Histri who perceived the sea around the peninsula as their own and wanted the Romans to pay a passage fee. Maybe the Romans used this fact only as an excuse for their expansion politics. In any case, historical records say that the last Histrian gradina (a prehistoric town on a hill) was Nesactium that fought to the last person alive. This reminds me of the Asterix and Obelix comics, but the difference is that Histri didn’t stand a chance without a magic potion. When they realized they weren’t going to refuse the siege, they killed each other and the remaining ones committed suicide together with their king Epulon.

History is destructive. It ruins, it crashes, but it also builds. So when the Roman warriors broke the resistance of Histri in Istria, Roman civilians and veterans inhabited the area that had a lot to offer: a mild climate, a good cultivating land and a great strategic position at sea. And they built wonderful things. The remains of Roman architecture are visible even today, 2.000 years later.




Twin Gates in Pula