Roman sites in Croatia

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

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

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

Temple of Neptune

The Temple of Neptune was erected on the Poreč forum in the 1st century. It is thought to be the biggest in Istria, although only a portion of its walls and the foundations have been preserved. During the Antiquity, Poreč as well as all Roman towns, had a forum, the main town square known today as Marafor, and a Capitoline temple facing it. It was believed that the temple was dedicated to God Mars in light of interpret ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Poreč, 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

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

Vizula

Vižula is an archaeological site near Medulin, confirmed to be populated from the Neolithic to the Early Middle Ages. Remains of a Neolithic settlement were found including wicker cottages glued together by soil and mud, as well as parts of the ceramics and some dishes. However, the most significant is the Roman villa, which has undergone systematic research, dating back to the 1st and the 2nd centuries. It was found tha ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Medulin, 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

Aquae Iasae

Aquae Iasae was the Roman settlement and Roman bath in the area of present city Varaždinske Toplice. In the 3rd century BC, in this area lived the Illyrian tribe Jasi, whose name the Romans referred to later in calling this place Aquae Iasae, 'Waters of the Jasi'. The village Jasa, thanks to its springs of water, grew into a significant medical, ceremonial, cultural and economic center of Pannonia Superior. Bu ...
Founded: 0-300 AD | Location: Varaždinske Toplice, Croatia

Nesactium

Nesactium was an ancient fortified town and hill fort of the Histri tribe. In pre-Roman times, Nesactium, ruled by its legendary king Epulon, was the capital of the tribal population of the peninsula called Histri, who were also connected to the prehistoric Castellieri culture. Some theories state a later Celtic influence, but who they were and where they came from has never been discovered for certain. It is believed tha ...
Founded: 9th century BCE | Location: Ližnjan, Croatia

Lorun

Lorun is an Antiquity archaeological site located next to the planned built tourist resort of Červar Porta. The remains of a Roman country villa, an estate consisting of the ceramics workshop, an oil mill and a water cistern were found, while the oldest villa doors coincide with the year 46 BC, the time of the establishment of the Poreč colony under the Caesar. Sisenna Statilie Tauro, a Roman consul for as many as 16 ye ...
Founded: 46 BCE | Location: Červar-porat, Croatia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.