Croatia is the homeland of some pretty bad-ass medieval and ancient architectural structures – just ask the location scouts working for HBO’s Game of Thrones. But let’s put the majestic city of Dubrovnik aside and focus on another ancient city located in Croatia – Pula.
Pula is mostly famous for its amphitheater – Pula Arena, a.k.a. the Croatian Colosseum. Of course, it’s not as popular as the Colosseum, but you can actually use that to your advantage if you ever want to visit the splendid facade and its surroundings. Here are the top things you should do at Pula Arena, regardless of the season.
Attend the film festival or a concert
The annual film festival on the arena is usually held in the summer, but the amphitheater hosts concerts all year round. Many of the biggest names in the music industry have performed here – Tom Jones, Seal, Anastacia, Sting, Eros Ramazzotti are just some of the most acclaimed musical acts Pula Arena has seen. On top of that the arena also hosted two professional ice hockey games back in 2012.
Delve into some history
The construction was built at some point between 27 BC and 68 AD. At that point the city was under Roman rule and the façade was initially built from timber wood. The wooden structure was later rebuilt from limestone and was enlarged in order to provide a larger scope of seating for attendees during gladiator fights and other public ceremonies. In the middle ages it even served as the ground for medieval knight tournaments. Throughout the years many politicians and artists of Roman, Swiss and French origins have stood against the demolition of the building and have actively taken part in its restorations.
Snap awesome no-crowd touristy pics
Due to the fact that Pula isn’t a popular tourist destination and the Pula Arena isn’t as famous as other ancient Roman amphitheaters, you have solid chances of snapping great photos of its exterior and interior without having crowds of tourists block the landscape. Not only is the arena picturesque enough on its own, but it also overlooks the sea, which only adds up to its potential for professional and hobbyist photographers.
Check out the underground arena and its tunnels
Don’t leave Pula Arena before exploring its underground tunnels and the subterranean galleries! The narrow limestone tunnels once kept the animals the gladiators had to fight and their haunting corridors expand over to an underground arena, which is positioned directly below the main battleground above the surface. Fans of thrilling experiences will enjoy roaming through the underground corridors and the gallery because that’s where the carcasses of the defeated animals and fighters used to be dragged down and later displayed for the crowd’s entertainment.
Take in the architectural magnificence
Grim history aside, Pula Arena is indeed an artsy treasure. In fact, it should be more famous than the Colosseum because architecturally speaking, it can absolutely put the Italian amphitheater in its pocket. The Pula Arena is the only amphitheater on the entire planet, which still has its four side towers along with all of its three Roman architectural orders! You won’t see such splendid architecture anywhere in the world! The exterior spans up to the whopping 29.4 meters in height and had to be built over a challenging slope instead of on a flat terrain. Back in the days the four towers were equipped with two water cisterns – each. These cisterns were filled with perfumed water, which was used to feed a long gone fountain and to sprinkle the guests with its aromatic springs. Bottom line is, the Colosseum can suck it – just go to Pula Arena instead.
Witness a gladiator fight!
Fortunately, Pula Arena doesn’t host deathly fights any longer, but the local government does organize simulated gladiator fights on regular basis. Those aren’t bloody and fatal, unlike the ancient fights, so they’re perfectly safe for your entire family’s mental and physical health. You can also enjoy a collection of authentic gladiator equipment and clothing on the premises, which is always put on display even when there are no simulated fights.
Lastly, don’t forget to visit the gift store where you can buy not only souvenirs, but also some books and photo albums. And speaking of photos – the amphitheater is just as superb at nightfall as it is during the day. The artificial lighting show makes it gleam at nighttime, so don’t miss the nocturnal landscapes if you happen to be in the area after sundown.