Located in the most southern part of Istrian peninsula, the city of Pula in Croatia has around 60000 residents and it is the largest city and cultural, economic and touristic center of Istria. With its 3000 years old history, Pula is one of the few cities in the world which features remains of many ancient Roman buildings with very valuable, well preserved Amphitheatre (Arena), built in the 1st century BC, which is now integrated in the modern city, developed in the 19th century. Every part of town is a reminder of past times, especially the Roman era, with its historical monuments from that time like: the Arch of the Sergii, the Twin Gates, small Roman theater, City walls…
Reasons to visit Pula Croatia
Pula is the economic, health, cultural, informational, educational, academic, historical and administrative center of Istria County
Pula has more than 20km of coast with some of the most beautiful beaches on Adriatic
Pula has 3000 years old history with numerous cultural sites, including the impressive Roman Amphitheater from the 1st century, located in the center of the town
Austrian fortification system consists from more than thirty fortifications and subterranean tunnels
James Joyce has lived in Pula and Dante Alighieri had mentioned it in his Divine Comedy
Numerous cultural events, including concerts from world-famous musicians in Arena with some of the most famous European festivals
Rich Historical Sightseeing
Like Rome, Pula (Croatia) is also situated on the seven hills, and has been mostly developed during Austrian period, when it became the main naval port of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire with its imposing defense system based on more than 50 fortifications. Underneath the city, there is a network of underground tunnels which connect all the fortifications, which were used for defense of the city. The network of tunnels and shelters is around 10 kilometers long, and it is estimated that it can withhold around 50000 people.
James Joyce was notable resident of Pula, and there is a monument erected in his honor in the center of town near caffe bar Uliks. Even Dante Alighieri, world famous writer, mentions Pula in his works.
Unlike most cities in Istria County, which are mostly based on tourism and agriculture, Pula is the city of industry, tourism, commerce, education and culture, and great historical and artistic values. In its 3000 years old history, Pula as a city, from the hill fort of Histri tribe to the modern town that it is today, has survived its ups and downs. Most prosperous period was from 2nd century BC do 5th century, when it first became urban center, after which followed the development in the 13th century, and second half of the 19th century, when Pula became naval port of Austrian navy.
Even though Pula is not solely based on tourism, this is more the reason to visit Pula and sense the authentic, unaffected atmosphere of this town, which has, through its 3000 years old history, from Roman colony to Austrian naval port, became a modern candidate for the European cultural center.
Pula is a city with a 3000 years old history which has a great number of archeological sites and historical monuments. You can feel the rich history of the simply by walking through it, and the most impressive part of it is Pula Amphitheater – Arena, located in the very center of the city. Read more about Pula historical sights
Like Rome, Pula was also built on the seven hills. With its indented and lengthy coast, Pula has numerous bays, coves and crystal blue sea perfect for swimming and leisure. Its charming surroundings offer natural attractions like National Park Brijuni islands, Park-wood Šijana, Cape Kamenjak peninsula, Canyon of Pula… Suitable geographical location and mile Mediterranean climate are excellent for the growth of different plants, trees, bugs and animals, some of which are endemic. Read more about Pula Natural sights.
National park Brijuni islands, which is famous for its archaeological findings, unaffected nature and open zoo where you can see animals like zebras, camels, elephants, gazelles, Ara parrots and other, is also near Pula. Ten kilometers south of Pula there is Cape Kamenjak peninsula – protected environment with more than 25 km of beautiful beaches, known for its endemic orchids and visible traces of dinosaurs. Pula is not just the center of the town and attractive surroundings which you can explore on the „Pula city tour“ bus and enjoy in the dynamic discovery of cultural and natural sights of the town
Pula is situated on the hills in the southwestern part of Istrian peninsula, near unique protected bay and indented coast. Its strategic significance and suitable position for the development of the harbor, and recently for the tourism, has marked Pula as the city of great potential and one of the largest, biggest and most developed cities in Istria.
The vicinity of Pula is also characterized by many coves and bays, and Pula’s beaches are considered among the most beautiful city beaches in Croatia.
Along with economic and cultural growth, the city became a focal point of the surrounding area. Thus, in the Pula district today, there are many settlements in the closer area (Štinjan, Fažana, Premantura, Medulin, Peroj, Šišan, Ližnjan, Loborika, Galižana, etc.), but also in wider area (Vodnjan, Svetvinčenat, Marčana, Barbariga, etc.), which are linked with Pula.
Lots of festivals and cultural events
During the summer, many events are being held in Pula: from concerts of world-famous musicians like Tina Turner, Manu Chao, Zuccero, Robbie Williams, Jamiroquai, etc., National film festival in Arena, to shows, gastronomic events, dance festivals and street performers…For younger population, there are world-famous electronic music festivals like Outlook, Dimension and Seasplash.
What to see in Pula
Pula is a city with a 3000 years old history which has a great number of archeological sites and historical monuments. You can feel the rich history of the simply by walking through it, and the most impressive part of it is Pula Amphitheater – Arena, located in the very center of the city. Pula Arena is the symbol of the town.
Pula: 3000 years old city, which is, like ancient Rome, built on the seven hills
Like Rome, Pula was also built on the seven hills which in local dialect usually have the prefix „Monte“, which can be translated as the hill: Monte Zaro, Monte Paradiso, Monte Giro, Monte Grande, Kaštel, Monte Serpente and Kaštanjer. Read more
Archaeological site Šandalja Caves near Pula: oldest findings of prehistoric men and oldest tools in Croatia, and possibly in all Europe
In the vicinity of Pula, around 6 km in the northeast, close to OKPD Valtura – in the base of Šandalja hill (San Daniel), there is archaeological and paleontological site that is consisted of numerous caves: Šandalja I and Šandalja II. Read more
There was a tram in Pula 110 years ago
In the time when Pula became part of the Austrian part of Monarchy, Francis Joseph I. ordered the construction of the main naval port of Austrian navy, which marked the beginning of the golden era of Pula. At that time begun the funding of the construction of the infrastructure, houses, apartments, buildings, shipyards, aqueducts and sewer, etc. In this period, between 19th and 20th century, population is rapidly growing, so Pula has almost 60000 residents in 1910. Read more
The biggest tie in the world and the Pula Arena
In the 17th century, as a part of their traditional uniforms, the Croats tied special bandanas around their necks. The girls were giving the bandanas to their men when they went to war, as a sign of their loyalty. Read more
Notable residents of Pula: Pula and the writers
On a Sunday morning, 30th October 1904, James Joyce and his fiancée Nora Bernaele, set sailed from Trieste to Istria. Almidano Artifoni, the owner of Berlitz School of foreign languages was waiting for them. Twenty-year old James Joyce left Ireland to work as an English teacher. Read more
Garrisons of Pula: defense system of thirty garrisons
First fortifications on the Pula area was built by the Histri and Romans. However, from the first half of the 19th century, for protection of the naval port of Austrian-Hungarian navy, there is a modern fortification system of Pula. Read more
Lightning giants are a unique, modern installation, which is used to light the shipyard cranes, forming a work of art. The author of the project is a world famous designer Dean Skira, the owner of the Lumenart company from Pula. Read more
Zerostrasse and Pula underground tunnels
It is known that the first fortifications on Pula area were built by the Histri and Romans. After the decision to make Pula main Austrian naval port in the first half of the 19th century, the construction of the infrastructure, roads, residential areas, shipyards, houses, fortifications and other buildings for defense purposes has begun. Read more
A Legend of Pula and the Argonauts
A legend or a myth about the Argonauts tells us about possible founding of Pula. Since this is only a legend, there are many different versions. At the time, Danube was called Ister, so the legend could be related to understanding the etymology of the name Istria. Read more
Things to do in Pula Croatia
Feel the old town
Among the places that must be visited in Pula, is the Old Town. The most famous monument is the Arena of the 1st century, most probably built by the Roman Emperor Vespasian. The amphitheater could accommodate 23,000 people, and currently it is one of the three best-preserved buildings of this type in the world.
You will be astonished at the sight of the Arena, the most important monument in Croatia from the Roman antiquity, erected in the 1st Century AD.
- Check our list of recomened historical sights tours
Pula is also a great place for active tourism. Due to its location, the city is an ideal starting point for divers. Near the city, at a depth of 28? 40 meters is the wreck of the ship Baron Gautsch, who in 1914 fell into an underwater mine and sank It is considered the most beautiful wreck in the entire Adriatic.
Because of the significant depth on which the ship lies, it can only be visited by experienced divers and for personal permission.
- Check our Scuba diving centers in Pula list.
Explore Pula surroundings
The famous tourist places in Pula are Pjescana Uvala, Medulin, Pomer and Premantura offering accommodation in camps, apartment or hotel. Beautiful beaches, some of the best restaurants, sports facilities and natural beauty, are only part of the offer of Medulin Riviera.
- We have prepared a list of best daytrips near Pula so You are welcome to check it: 6 Best location for daytrips near Pula
Go to the beaches
For anyone not interested in seeing the historical parts of Pula there is always the excellent beaches in the city. The beaches in Pula are known for being the best in Croatia, and some of the most beautiful on the Adriatic.
- Here is a complete beach listing in Pula.
Explore the Beautiful Adriatic Sea with Croatia Small Ship Cruises
Escape the rush of an everyday life and let our luxury cruise ships become your new elegant homes, your refuge and a best way to cruise Croatia!
- Here is a full article about The Best Cruises in Croatia.
Food and restaurants in Pula
Food lovers can enjoy in the traditional Istrian specialties based on fish and meat, offered in the local restaurants in the center of the town.
Besides being an amazing sightseeing area, the town of Pula has many superb restaurants due to all of the Italian influence they are exposed to. The main cuisine of the area is a type of Italian and Istrian fusion. It consists of mainly pasta and meat sauces that accompany it. The menu would mainly consist of many different dishes of pasta, pizza, lasagna, gnocchi and other such Italian dishes.
Beaches in Pula
Indented coast with many bays and coves, numerous attractive beaches, hotels and camps, beautiful nature and crystal blue sea, makes Pula a prominent touristic center in Istria, but also in all of Croatia.
In the surroundings of the city there are many bays and coves, unaffected nature and crystal clear sea. Pula is one of the city with the most city beaches in Adriatic. There are around twenty beaches, and many of them have been awarded with a blue flag – a symbol of clear sea and great facilities.
Where to stay in Pula
Accommodation in Pula (Croatia)
Touristic capacities of Pula are growing constantly. There is an increase of tourists and nights every season. Currently there are around ten hotels and hostels in Pula, along with five resorts, four camps and over thousand apartments and private rooms available. Lately, vacation homes and villas are becoming more popular. Pula is becoming an important touristic destination of Istria, which attracts more guests each year. With the demand, the quality of accommodation is also on the rise.
- Pula Apartments: There are over thousand units of private accommodation, apartments and private rooms, in Pula. Apartments and rooms vary by categories from basic to luxury apartments.
- Pula Hotels: There are around twenty hotels with different capacities and categories in Pula. Depending on the offer and the content the hotels are awarded two, three, four or five stars.
- Pula Hostels: There are around fifteen hostels in Pula. Depending on the offer and the content they differ by categories. Most of them are located in the center of the town, but there are also some of them on the outskirts.
- Pula Tourist Resorts: There are five resorts in Pula and they are all located in touristic zone on Verudela Peninsula in Pula. They are run by Arenaturist and they’ve been recently reconstructed with more capacity and higher level of service, which also increased their category. Very suitable location close to the clean sea with maintained environment and unaffected nature are some of the reasons why guests keep coming back.
- Pula Villas and vacation homes: Villas and vacation homes are relatively new in tourism. Every year there are many new objects built, which increases Pula’s touristic offer.
- Pula Camps: There are four camps in Pula: Camp Stoja, Camp Brioni (ex Puntižela), Youth Hostel and Camping BiVillage.
Pula accomodation offer:
Resorts in Pula: Park Plaza Verudela Resort, Horizont Golden Rocks Resort, Verudela Beach and Villa Resort, Splendid Golden Rocks Resort, Ribarska koliba Resort.
Hotels in Pula: Hotel Park Plaza Histria, Hotel Omir, Hotel Amfiteatar, Hotel Aurora, Hotel Galija, Hotel Pula, Hotel Scaletta, Hotel Milan, Hotel Park Plaza Arena (ex Hotel Park), Hotel Veli Jože, Hotel Brioni, Hotel Valsabbion, Butique Hotel Oasi.
Hostels in Pula: Hostel Pipistrelo, Hostel Riva, Art Hostel Pula, Dreambox Hostel Pula, Hostel Amfora, Hostel Step, Youth Hostel Pula, Hostel Brioni (ex Puntižela), Cool Book Hostel, Last minute hostel, Joyce Boutique Hostel.
Camps: Camp Stoja, Camp Brioni (ex Puntižela), Youth Hostel, Camping BiVillage.
Private accommodation in Pula: apartments, pensions and different category rooms.
Marinas: ACY Marina Pula and Tehnomont Marina Veruda.
Beaches in Pula: Seagull Rocks, Valovine, Valkane, Stoja, Lungomare, Gortan Cove, Valsaline-Mornar, Splendid, Golden Rocks, Saccorgiana, Ambrela, Hotel Brioni, Pula Canyon, Hawaiian Cove, The Lighthouse, Histria.
Beaches around Pula: Pješčana Uvala, Štinjan, Valbandon, Fažana, Barbariga.
Travelling to Pula
Pula is in a geographical and traffic sense connected to the west with Slovenia and Italy, and through them with the rest of European countries with rail and road, which are based on R101 Pula – Buzet (Divača, Slovenia) rail and A8 and A9 Highways (Istrian epsilon), as a part of the European corridor E751. To the east, Pula is connected via Rijeka, with the main corridors including the state road – A8 Highway (Istrian epsilon). Same rail and road corridors are the crucial in connecting Pula with other parts of Istria County.
Pula is also linked by road with several smaller settlements that are around 10 to 15 km away (Fažana, Vodnjan, Marčana, Ližnjan, Medulin, and Premantura).
Pula’s transport system is sufficient for the demands of local population and the tourists during the summer. There are two main entrances to the town: Veli vrh (D21) and Šijana (Highway A9/E751). Pula has a Bus station which is located in Šijana neighborhood. Bus traffic has local, city, regional and international lines. Most of the air traffic goes through Pula International Airport which is located 6 kilometers from the city. Rail traffic is stagnating, and it goes through Pula Train station. Pula Harbor near the center of the city is the central place for sea traffic and line. There are two marinas in Pula along with a large number of taxis and taxi services.
Bus station connects Pula with bus lines, and the station itself is the biggest infrastructural building of its type in Pula. Rail station in Pula is located near the city boardwalk.
Besides the rail and the road, Pula is also connected through the sea with Italy (Venice and Trieste) and other maritime countries in the World. Passenger can arrive from two directions; daily excursions to Venice in July and August once a week with high-speed hydro-boats, and daily trips with numerous boats and ships during the high-season to closer destinations such as Brijuni Islands, Rovinj, Lim Channel, etc.
Pula Airport is located in Ližnjan, nearby municipality, and it is about 6 kilometers away from the town. Pula Airport offer local and international flights, and Ryan air is one of the most important low-cost companies that offer flights to Pula. A few kilometers from Pula there is Medulin-Campanož flying ground, which offer panoramic and taxi flights above Pula and its surroundings.
Recently, hydroplane links Pula with Dalmatian islands and coast. The terminal for the planes is located inside Pula harbor, next to Uljanik shipyard.
General info about Pula
Pula (Croatia) Population
According to the 2011 census, Pula has a population of 57460. It is the 8th most populated city in Croatia. There are 1134 less residents compared to the 2001 census. The cause is the decline in birth rate. Of all the residents, 48% population are male and 52% female. There are 98,43% with Croatian citizenship in Pula. Based on nationality, Croats are in majority (70,14%), followed by Italians (4,43%) and Bosnians (3,50%). According to religious beliefs, there are 64,46% Catholics, 5,70% Muslims and 5,49% are Orthodox. Of total number of residents, there is 14,42% of atheists. Nine minority groups have their representatives in public life and local government of Pula. Official symbols of Pula are its coat of arms and flag which are greed with yellow Latin cross.
Pula (Croatia) geographic location and the climate
Pula is located at 44°50’ north longitude and 13°50’ east latitude. It is settled on the south of Istrian Peninsula, and more broadly, in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea.
Bay of Pula is a natural harbor, and hilly terrain and agricultural potential of the surroundings have given Pula strategic advantages which enabled it to continue its existence through a long history.
Geographic location has had a diverse influence on the development of the city. There were times when it was very suitable in a military-strategic way and for the economy and transport (Austrian-Hungarian domination), which resulted in the increase of the population and further economic development (in 1910 Pula had around 59600 residents).
Pula (Croatia) weather
The climate is Mediterranean, and average number of colder days, when the air-temperature falls beneath 0°C is 22.2. Warm days average (with daily highs of 25°C) is 89.2 per year. Most warm days are in July (27.8) and August (26.6). Temperatures can drop below zero between November and April. Pula has a maritime type of precipitation fluctuation, with high in winter months and lows in the summer. Major precipitation is rainfall, while the hail and snow occur rare.
The fog is not often in Pula. Total number of foggy days in the observed period varied from 6 to 23, while average is less than 4. Most foggy days are in January, when there can be expected up to 8 foggy days. It is most often during the winter, while it almost never occurs during the summer.
During the year, Pula region is under the influence of NE winds (Bora) and E (Levant) with approximately 20% of annual days, and average strength of 2.2 to 2.7 Beaufort. Aforementioned winds occur less during the summer (11 – 19%). With 13% chance of showing, there is also SE wind Jugo, with average strength of 2.2 Beaufort. Jugo mainly blows during the spring. Most rare is Tramontana from the north with 4% chance of occurrence and the strength of 1.5 Beaufort and from the south with about 5% chance and the strength of 2.0 Beaufort. In the summer, the Mistral is the most common wind from the northwest (12%, 1.8 Beaufort) along with the Ponente (west, 10%, 2.0 Beaufort).
Pula economy and tourism
Pula is the largest economic, health, cultural, informative (newspaper, radio, TV), educational, academic, historical and administrative center of Istria County with its 60.000 residents. It has a strong effect on the development of the settlements in its vicinity and other parts of the County. Geographic position enable the city to take advantage of the touristic potential, along with other activities related to the sea and climate, but poor infrastructure limits the potential of drawing the small and medium high-tech companies.
Loss of the market, war aggression, relative lack of technological progress and low competitive climate in the last decade of the 20th century, changed the economical image of the city, which resulted in the decline of the industry compared to other activities, along with the decline in free activities and handicraft. Spatial distribution of the industry in Pula is a result of a 150 years old development, which made the industrial tone of the town filled with shipyards, engineering, metal, and construction and food industries. Uljanik, the largest shipyard in Croatia should be mentioned because it opened in 1856.
The location of the city, its natural beauty and indented coast are some of the key factors that influence the development of Pula as the most important center of Istria County. Current touristic revenues are merely “refreshing” financial impulse which offer the city an escape from out-of-season lethargy. Basic problem for the development of tourism are funding, lack of marketing activities for the upcoming seasons and the lack of image of the city as an attractive touristic destination.
Most of the capacities in the city are based on hotels and their facilities, and then on households, private rooms and touristic resorts. In the total offer, according to the number of rooms and beds, resorts, camps, hotels, households and private rooms are in majority. The structure of the capacities prove that Pula hasn’t yet profiled itself as a legitimate touristic destination. The development of Pula and its great potential are growing according to the results in the previous seasons.The most important economic subjects in Pula and its surroundings are: Shipbuilding: Uljanik, Tehnomont.Tourism and catering industry: Arenaturist.IT sector: Infobeep.Food industry: Puljanka.Production: Duran, Calucem.Construction/road building: Bina Istra, Cesta, Istarska autocesta, Istarske ceste.Commerce Centers: Puljanka, Konzum, Pevec, Getro, Plodine, Merkur, Bauhaus, Lidl, Kaufland.Transportation: Brioni, Pulapromet, Uljanik plovidba, Pula Harbor, Pula Airport.[/lists]
The history of Pula
City of Pula (photo: Swirl Blog)
The history of Pula is related to the 1 million years old findings of Homo erectus in Šandalja Cave near Pula. In the same location there have been found numerous object from the Neolithic.
Bronze Age is related to the first settlements and objects called Gradine, which were built by the Histri. They were the first known inhabitants of the peninsula. Their capital was Nesactium, and its remains are in Valtura, 10 kilometers from Pula.
Oldest part of the town has been built in prehistoric time (4th to 2nd century BC) by the construction of Illyrian hill fort on top of the hill next to the protected bay. The name of the city is mention in the 3rd century BC in the form of “Polai” (it was probably Illyrian and it meant “source of water”).
By the time Nesactium has fallen in 177 BC, the Roman government was installed in this area, and in time, Pula (Colonia Julia Pola Pollentia Herculanea) has become an important strategic point and the most important city of the Istrian Peninsula. Via Flavia from Trieste (Tergeste) and one road from Rijeka (Tarsatica) were leading to the city. Newly established city has been placed on the top of the hill (as was Illyrian hill fort), benefiting of all the advantages of its position. Concentric lines of the city forts influenced the same shape of the streets. In the 2nd century, the city had around 35.000 residents. In that time, the Amphitheater is also completed just outside the city walls with the capacity of 20000-25000 under the patronage of the Emperor Vespasian.
Large theater was also being built in the southern part. Rectangular forum next to the Capitolinum was being built inside the walls. In the 3rd century, the city stopped its expansion because of the crisis, but the construction have continued inside the walls. In the next period, certain changes arose (i.e. the Cathedral complex was being built in the 4th and 5th century), but urban conception stayed the same.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, Pula entered the Exarchate of Ravenna, and started to flourish once more (6th and 7th century). With the arrival of the Franks and new government over the land, cities lost their surroundings which caused a crisis (8th and 9th century), which caused the lack of building activities.
In the Middle Ages, the cities are becoming autochthonous and liberated from the ruling of the feudal lords in the back, which had a positive effect on the development of sea-trade, which caused the age of prosperity in the 12th and 13th century. Many buildings have been constructed in that time such as Communal Palace in the main city square. Old street network remain in use in the Middle Ages, and was even more connected than before.
With the expansion of Venice, in 1331, Pula has come under the government of the Venetians, and was stagnating. After the plague and malaria, Pula has almost lost all of its population, so it had around 360 residents in 1631. In the following hundred years the city hasn’t recovered, and the population barely doubled.
With the fall of Venice Republic, Pula entered in Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy, and after the Wien Congress in 1815 it became a part of Austria. Nothing has changed in the beginning until the Emperor Francis Joseph I decided to build the largest war port of his nave in the biggest and most protected bay of the empire in the very south of Istrian Peninsula.
Massive funds were invested in the construction of the transportation and infrastructure (roads, rail, aqueduct, sewer, gas production with the gas pipeline). The arsenal and the shipyard were built and the number of residents has increased. There was a lot more space for construction after the walls were demolished, and residential areas were expanding. Social building were also being built such as schools, government buildings, theater, hospitals and hotels). Public tram transportation is also implemented, along with the urban equipment.
New ideas were being realized, that were taken from the central European architectural style, regardless of the existing conceptions and tradition. Old part of town is not being implemented in the proper way. Wealthier and middle-class citizens prefer to live outside this old and crowded center, and populate the outskirts (villas in the green) or new apartment blocks. Old center is left over to the poor citizens who don’t have the funds for maintenance, so this part started to decline, which still has its consequences today.
World War I caused another decline. Pula became a part of Italy, and lost its significance. There are no new expansions, and the population declines.
World War II brought new destruction, especially during the bombing of the city in 1944 and 1945, when a total of 235 buildings were demolished, and over 60% of the buildings more or less damaged.
A lot of people have left the city. It was devastated until 1947, when under the Anglo-American government became a part of Yugoslavia. At the time, Pula had a population of 15.000. Intensive rebuilding and construction took part, which reached its peak during the 60s and 70s. New residential areas were built (Veruda, Stoja, Vidikovac, Šijana), along with economic, public and other buildings. The population increases, and the influence of the city on the surrounding area keeps growing.
Independence of Republic of Croatia in the early 90s was followed by the aggression and further devastation in the country. Pula didn’t suffer any direct damage, but was under the influence of general economic crisis. The population started to decline again, and the construction has stopped. In the new territorial division of Croatia, Pazin became the capital of Istria County, which limited Pula’s boundaries to the limits its former settlement.