Explore Pula’s Ancient Ruins & Modern Treasures with Azamara
Pula may be a relatively undiscovered gem by most modern-day travelers, but with its protected harbor and strategic location on the southern tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, it’s proven a popular hit with invaders. For almost 3,000 years, Pula has been home to everyone from the Romans, Ostrogoths, and Venetians to medieval knights and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Naturally, the wealth of historic sites left behind is impressive—none more so than the spectacular Pula Arena, which dominates the city center. There’s also the 1st century Arch of the Sergii, Gate of Hercules, and Temple of Augustus; the Byzantine chapel of St. Mary Formosa; the 6th century Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary…the remarkable list goes on.
If you’d prefer more eclectic pursuits, venture a few miles north to Fazana, where you can take a 15-minute ferry ride to see the fascinating attractions of Brijuni National Park—once the vacation hideaway of Yugoslavian President Josip “Tito” Broz.
Given its proximity to Italy, it’s not surprising that classic dishes like pizza, pasta, and gelato dominate Pula menus. Black and white truffles also play a starring role, as Istria is one of the few places in the world where they can be found.
If you love seafood, head to the restaurants along Limski Canal for skampi buzzara (a classic Croatian seafood stew, commonly served with shell-on langoustines), or oysters and mussels fresh from the Adriatic. Pair your meal with a white wine made from indigenous Malvasia grapes, and finish it off with an aperitif of rakija.
Dating back to the 1st century, Pula Arena is “the only remaining Roman amphitheater to have four side towers and all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved.” Over the millennia, it’s hosted everything from gladiator fights and medieval jousting tournaments to 21st century concerts and festivals
Brijuni National Park
This group of 14 small islands is a veritable treasure trove of sights: ancient Roman ruins, a 13th century church built by the Knights Templar, hundreds of dinosaur footprints, pristine beaches, a safari park, the Tito Museum, and the world’s first “free-range” eco-friendly golf course, which is “mown” by local fauna.
As the city’s main square, the Pula Forum has remained the central meeting point for over 2,000 years. Its ancient, medieval, and modern influences can be seen throughout, ranging from architectural and historic sites like the Temple of Augustus to the many outdoor cafés overlooking the square.
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Pula, Croatia At a glance