Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Pula is quite the town.  It  has been the center of Istrian government and commerce for centuries.  As long ago as 1000 BC,  Pula has been a population center.  Evidence is all over the place.  The Romans were especially thoughtful in leaving substantial evidence of their presence.
Most dramatic - Pula Arena.

 Continued excavation
 The white portion has been cleaned recently to demonstrate the original color of the arena.
The original wooden portions of the arena are long gone, but the Fascists of the 1930's installed these seats as they used the arena for political gatherings.
 I have no way of knowing for sure, but this arena is billed as one of the best preserved in the Roman world.  It is certainly impressive!
Much of the material from the inner walls was used in later construction, most remarkably in the cathedral just down the street.  Does that remind anyone of the use of use of  material from Templo Mayor to build the cathedral in Mexico City?

 There have been many efforts to rebuild the missing parts of the arena while protecting the integrity of the remain original parts.
Down in the museum, we have an ancient wine press.  Only the wooden parts are reproduction.

This is an example of underground amphora for storage of wine in a temperature controlled environment.
 An ancient olive press.
More amphora
And still more amphora.  These clay vessels were used primarily for the transport of wine and olive oil fish, fish sauce, and salted fish.  The oldest ones date 6,000 BC.  The mountains of them which have been found in some dumps, remind me a little of plastic water bottles.  Interestingly, around the end of the 1st century AD, amphora were replaced by wooden barrels.  Because the barrels were not airtight, the shipping of quality wine would be suspended until the glass bottle and cork appeared in the 17th century.  
 A couple of artist renderings of the arena during its prime.
The arena is still used for special concerts, the summer film festival, and other events.  It is ineligible for UNESCO protection and depends on the people of Pula and the rest of Istria for its maintenance and refurbishment.
And here we are - off to see the rest of Pula.

Just down the street from the arena is the Cathedral of Pula.  It has a plain front and a stark interior, but the tower - made from stone salvaged from the Roman arena - is quite impressive.
Another Roman landmark is the Temple of Augustus.  As many antiquities, it has an interesting history.  It has served as both a Christian church and a granary.  It was almost totally destroyed during World War II, but it was reconstructed in 1947.  It is used today to display Roman sculpture which was not as remarkable as I had hoped.

This stunning example of Roman mosaics is found only if you go down a side street, through a parking lot, and up a most disreputable looking alley.  It was worth the trip.
 The Roman walls and Theater are not as well preserved as the arena, but still worth a visit.
 Walls built with pieces and parts to statues and memorials, and other, older walls.
This was quite a challenging puzzle, but it's a great example of large format ceramics from the ancients. 
 And finally, the theater itself
Including what appear to be for all the world to be marquees to advertise current and future attractions.

 And then there is the Arch of the Sergii.  
 Built in honor of three brothers, it was paid for by their sister.
It is richly adorned with grapes, cherubs, and other motifs that might be called a "feminine touch."

Just outside the gate, James Joyce shares a table with various tourists who sit down for a cup of coffee and a chat.  He loved Istria and Pula in particular.

Pula has been known for hundreds of years for its ship building 
Fishing and shipping

And a relatively new business development:  cruise ship repair and remodeling.
The market is a jewel.  Light and airy, topped with a glass roof
Inside this shopper could find
a vast selection of fish, poultry, meat, and cheese.
Outside, this shopper could find any kind of fruit 
or flower available anywhere in this part of the world.

One last look at the arena on the way back to the bus station. I was so tired I slept the entire 40 minute ride back to Rovinj!  Sight seeing is hard work!
Final impressions:  Pula has a lot of stuff to see and to buy, but it lacks Rovinj's charm and friendliness.  It's a great place to visit for a short time!