Exploring Croatia’s Pula
For this year’s family summer holiday, we travelled to Pula in Croatia. Our hotel was situated about a ten minute local bus ride away from Pula’s town centre and therefore on two separate days, we spent the morning exploring the local shops and architecture. The bus only cost us £1.40 each way and appeared to be the main mode of transport for the locals who are predominantly from the older generation.
When I explore new places, I always try to look up and down to gain an alternative perspective of what is presented in front of me. I like to capture interesting angles of the top of buildings which often contrast the clear blue sky above. Some of the buildings were traditional stone and neutral block colours, whereas others were painted in bold hues such as orange, blue and pink. When positioned adjacent to each other, they created a row of colour and a vibrant street of joy.
Our bus dropped us parallel to the Arch of the Sergii which was the first point of interest we came across. The detail caved and embossed into the arch way was intricately detailed; the Roman art created one of the most beautiful ancient monuments in Pula. I was informed that the simple arch opening was decorated from the western city side, with elements typical of the late Hellenic artistic style.
Moving further into the town centre and down a few cobbled lanes, we arrived at the Temple of Augustus. The building was fronted by a high porch supported by six Corinthian columns which formed the small but perfectly proportioned temple. Its stone decoration again reflects the Late Hellenistic influence. In the course of its history, it has changed function by being converted into a church and after reconstruction now houses a small archaeological display.
Opposite the marina, is the Pula Arena. We wandered around the circumference of the Roman Amphitheatre which also overlooked the harbour which is northeast of the old town. I found that it was a huge and truly magnificent structure, slotted together entirely from local limestone. It was originally designed to host gladiatorial contests and was able to seat up to 20,000 spectators, but it still serves the mass-entertainment needs of the locals, for example hosting concerts and film-festival screenings that we saw advertised around the town. I found it fascinating looking at the shapes within the structure, with the sea visible through some of the arches.
The one place we did purchase a ticket to enter was Pula's Castle, ‘Kaštel’, their old fortress that is situated on a hill in the centre of Pula. The middle of the fortress is a rectangular shape, with four additional pentagonal towers. I believe that the castle is one of Pula’s highest points, and therefore the view from the top of the tallest tower is spectacular. It gives a great view of the amphitheatre and the architecture of the rest of Pula as well as the sea from different angles/viewpoints. I feel that the view alone was worth the small amount of money it cost us to enter.
The small independent shops down the lanes all displayed similar merchandise including quote and image wooden plaques, mugs and other gifting items. Other stores were clothes-based, sports goods and sweet stores packed full of giant pick and mix sweets.
We came across an ice-cream store which had so many varieties and flavours on offer. We all went for a couple of scoops in a cup and sat and ate it in an area of greenery opposite the shop. I chose the snickers ice-cream, whereas my mum had the chocolate, my dad and sister the unicorn marshmallow and my sister’s boyfriend opted for an odd combination of snickers and strawberry. My ice-cream was delicious and was made even better by large pieces of peanuts and chocolate throughout. The only problem was that it started to melt all the way down my hand before we even got to the seats as a result of it being a scorching day.
One of the most memorable shops for me had to be the chocolate shop; it was full of every combination and variation of chocolate you can think of. Boxes, packets, single truffles, bars, etc were displayed in the store with milk, white, dark and flavoured chocolates in every corner. My mum kindly brought me a large box of dark truffle-like chocolates as a surprise which I cannot wait to try.
I very much enjoyed discovering the ancient Roman architecture throughout Pula, as well as noticing the Italian influences on the town; some of the buildings and structures were the same as you would find in Venice in my opinion.