Top Historic Sights in Pula, Croatia

Explore the historic highlights of Pula

Pula Arena

The Pula Arena is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. It is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the World. A rare example among the 200 surviving Roman amphitheatres, it is also the best preserved ancient monument in Croatia. The Arena was built between 27 BC and 68 AD, as the city of Pula became a regional centre of ...
Founded: 27 BC - 68 AD | Location: Pula, Croatia

St. Francis Monastery

On the slope of the hill between the Forum Square and the upper circular street, lies the monastic complex dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, built in the 14th century at the site of a previous cultic edifice. The Franciscan community was first recorded in Pula in the 13th century. The church was built in 1314 in the late Romanesque style with Gothic ornaments, as a firm and simple building of the preaching Franciscan or ...
Founded: 1314 | Location: Pula, Croatia

Pula Fortress

Pula fortress was built by the Venetians, situated on a hill in the center of Pula. It is interesting to point out that there are evidence that hill fort of the Histri was once in the same location. Because of its dominating position, the fortress was always used for defense of the city, bay and port. The fortress was built between 1630 and 1633, based on a design from French military engineer Antonio De Villa, so it belo ...
Founded: 1630-1633 | Location: Pula, Croatia

Pula Cathedral

The Pula Cathedral is located on the south side of the Pula bay at the foot of the hill with the 17th century Venetian fort. The site of the present-day church has been used for religious worship since ancient Roman times and the first Christian churches on the site were built in the late 4th and early 5th century AD. These had gone through a series of enlargements and reconstructions over the ages. It is believed th ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Pula, Croatia

Arch of the Sergii

Arch of the Sergii is an Ancient Roman triumphal arch located in Pula, Croatia. The arch commemorates three brothers of the Sergii family, specifically Lucius Sergius Lepidus, a tribune serving in the twenty-ninth legion that participated in the Battle of Actium and disbanded in 27 BC . This suggests an approximate date of construction to 29-27 BC. The arch stood behind the original naval gate of the early Roman colony. T ...
Founded: 29-27 BC | Location: Pula, Croatia

Pula Roman Theatre

The smaller Roman Theatre of Pula from the 1st century AD was erected on the slope underneath the Venetian fortress. The area was divided into the stage and the proscene where the acting took place, the orchestra and the viewing area or the cavea. The theatre lied on the hill slope, which was the characteristic of Greek theatres. Only the stage foundations and a part of the semi-circular viewing area of the Small Roman Th ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Pula, Croatia

Pula Communal Palace

The Communal Palace is situated at the northern end of the main square of the old part of the City of Pula, called the Forum Square. The spot occupied by the Palace has been used for the public buildings since Ancient Rome, when the place was used as a part of a triade of Roman temples, of which today only the Temple of Augustus remains. The eastern of these temples, called the Temple of Diana, was used as a rudimenta ...
Founded: 1296 | Location: Pula, Croatia

Temple of Augustus

The Temple of Augustus is a well-preserved Roman temple in the city of Pula. Dedicated to the first Roman emperor, Augustus, it was probably built during the emperor"s lifetime at some point between 27 BC and his death in AD 14. It was built on a podium with a tetrastyle prostyle porch of Corinthian columns and measures about 8 by 17.3 m, and 14 m high. The richly decorated frieze is similar to that of a somewhat lar ...
Founded: 27 BCE - 14 AD | Location: Pula, Croatia

Hercules Gate

Hercules Gate is the oldest standing Roman monument in Pula, dating from the 1st century BC.
Founded: 100-0 BCE | Location: Pula, Croatia

St. Mary Formosa Church

The Basilica of St. Mary Formosa dates back to the 6th century. It is an exceptionally important Early Christian monument. Unfortunately, only the south chapel, shaped as a Greek cross, has been preserved. Located in the south of the old town core, St. Mary Formosa is one of the most significant Early Christian monuments of the Byzantine art and architecture in Istria and Croatia. It was commissioned by Archbishop Maximi ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Pula, Croatia

Fort Punta Christo

Fort Punta Christo was built at the end of the 19th century by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to defend City of Pula, their main naval port. Situated on a small peninsula at 45 meters above sea level, Fort Punta Christo offers a breathtaking view of the entrance to the Bay of Pula, its breakwater, as well to National Park Islands Brijuni on the other side. The fortress is surrounded by a deep ditch and there are three entr ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Pula, Croatia

Verudela Fortress

The Verudela Fortress is one of the best preserved fortresses. When its control over Pula commenced, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy decided to transform the town into the Monarchy"s maritime centre, which meant the construction of not only numerous newly-built structures such as the arsenal, hospital or the Hydrographic Institute, but also its defensive system. Thus, a magnificent fortification system was erected, whi ...
Founded: 1866-1881 | Location: Pula, Croatia

Veliki Brijun Roman Villa

On the western coast of Brijuni, along Verige Bay, stands a magnificent Roman villa rustica. Its construction began in the 1st century BC, and it achieved its greatest splendor in the 1st century AD. Certain parts of the villa were used until the 6th century. It consisted of several buildings for various purposes situated at carefully chosen sites in different parts of the bay. On the southern side of the bay stood a su ...
Founded: 100-0 BCE | Location: Pula, Croatia

Fort Bourguignon

Fort Bourguignon (Fort Monsival) is one of many fortresses in Pula, Croatia that were built by the Austrian Empire in the second half of the 19th century. It was one of the last fortresses built that used inner fortification rings, forming an arc within a radius of 2.5 kilometres distance to protect the port. It was named after the Austrian admiral Anton Bourguignon von Baumberg. The fortress was inspired by the 1820 for ...
Founded: 1861-1866 | Location: Pula, Croatia

Brijuni Kastrum

The richest site by its strata on the Brijuni stretches on an area somewhat greater than 1 hectare. Finds from the period of the Roman Republic and Empire, Late Antiquity, Eastern Goths, Byzantium, Carolingian period and Venice testify to the long time settlement. The first villa in Dobrika Bay was built in the 1st century BC.  During Augustus" rule, partly on the site of the first villa, a new villa rustica was er ...
Founded: 100-0 BCE | Location: Pula, Croatia

St. Mary's Church

The aisled St. Mary"s Church of square ground plan whose lateral walls have been preserved almost to their original height. The size of the church (11x 24 m) indicates a large population of the nearby castrum erecting this edifice in the 5th - 6th centuries. The altar area is two steps higher and is divided from the church nave by a partly preserved triumphal arch. The altar basis is preserved in situ. The atrium of ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Pula, Croatia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.