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PULA, a town and port in the south-western part of Istria; population 62,378.
Situated in the inner part of a bay, divided by the islands of St. Catherine, St.
Andrew and Uljanik into three port basins. According to the size of the
con-structed coast and level of equipment, Pula is the most important and
biggest port in Istria, and the well-protected Pula Bay places it among the best
natural harbours on the Adriatic.
The Romans restored and expanded the system of the Illyrian hill-forts, and the
top of the hill, on which the capitol rose, together with several public
institutions and temples, had its own fortification system. In the Middle Ages,
the town walls were reinforced, and some of the Roman temples were turned
into Christian churches.
The Roman Amphitheatre (commonly called Arena), from the 1st and 2nd
centuries, occupies a dominant position above the harbour. It has an elliptic
ground-plan (132.45 x 105.10 m), the walls are 30.45 m high; it could seat
23,000 spectators. It is the world's sixth largest preserved amphitheatre. The
legend has it that it was built by Emperor Vespasian on the initiative of his
Pula-born girl friend Cenida.
The Nymphaeum leads to the southwest, with a way branching off to the Twin
Gate (Porta gemina) from the 2nd century; an inscription is built-in above the
Gate. The Twin Gate leads to the Archaeological Museum of Istria, with a park,
in which exhibits are placed, in front of it.
The richly adorned Triumphal Arch of the Sergi, erected some time after 31 BC
near the inner part of the main town gate (Porta aurea, collapsed in 1829), is
reached from the Portarata Square. A large Roman graveyard was located in
front of the town gate, which Dante mentions in his Inferno (Canto IX); several
marble sarcophaguses from the graveyard are housed at the Museo civico
Correr in Venice. A walk through the centre of Pula is a walk through history.
There are numerous churches in Pula, dating from the Middle Ages and more
recent times. Especially interesting is the chapel of the no-longer standing
Church of Santa Marija Formosa (St. Mary of Formosa), a nice example of 6th
century architecture. An altar polyptych from the end of the 14th century kept
in the Franciscan church is one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic
wooden sculpture in Istria. Sv. Marija Cathedral (St. Mary) was built in the 5th
century. Rebuilt several times since, it incorporates elements of various styles,
on the inside as well the outside: a Roman sarcophagus is used as the altar, and
mediaeval architectural traits are combined with Renaissance ones.
The Temple of Augustus (of the goddess Romae and Emperor Augustus) from
the 1st century is located on the northern side of the square, on an elevated
base, with a portico comprising six Corinthian columns and a closed cella. The
Town Hall is near the temple, attached in 1296 to the Roman temple (of Diana);
the back of the temple has been preserved.
Pula is today the economic centre with developed shipbuilding industry
(Uljanik), textiles, metal industry and building trades as well as glass
manufacturing. Tourist centre (marina). The importance of Pula as a traffic
intersection in the whole Istria has particularly increased by the modernization
of the airport.