Situated on the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula is a three hour bus trip from Trieste, Italy. Buses run regularly and cost about 14 euros. With a population of less than 63000, the mild climate, and calm seas make this a popular destination for summer vacations. The origins of Pula are ancient, with archeological findings in the area indicating its history may stretch back 40000 years or perhaps longer.
Present day Pula once again reminds us of the vast reach of the Roman Empire with the Pula Arena standing proudly near the centre of the city. A well preserved amphitheatre built between 27 – 68BC and completed under the reign of the Emperor Flavius, it is relatively in tact, and still in use for various sporting events and concerts.
A walk up Monsival Hill to Fort Bourguignon, not only takes you to one of the early fortifications from the Austro-Hungarian era but also provides a good vantage point for some lovely views over Pula. Built from 1861-1866 the fort is a two storey structure with a small circular courtyard. Walking down the northeastern slope of hill there are the remains of the Small Roman Theatre which has survived since the 2nd Century. Whilst the semi circular theatre has been partially reconstructed, there are other remnants to wander around and explore at this archeological site. Continuing down into the centre of Pula, you walk through the Triumphal Arch of Sergii, or the golden gate. Erected between 29 and 27BC in honour of the Sergi family who fought on the side of Octavian in the Battle of Actium. Other Roman buildings in Pula include the Temple of Augustus and the Hercules Gate, both well worth a visit.
Although Pula was originally just a “pick up” point for a hire car (we had to pick up and drop off in the same country (Pula – Split), the natural beauty of the ancient city, the surrounding countryside, the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea, coupled with historical significance, make this a worthwhile and interesting destination in its own right.