What’s with the ‘other OTHER’ title? Awhile back we enjoyed one of the Roman coliseum in El Jem, Tunisia. I called that one the ‘other’ Roman coliseum, after the much more widely known Coliseum in Rome. That makes this one the other OTHER Roman coliseum.
I’ll note that some research helped me find this Wikipedia page, which lists “at least 230 amphitheaters” throughout the former Roman Empire. While I might make it a point to see other coliseums if they’re nearby, there are over 200 coliseums scattered across dozens of modern-day countries.
This one, however, was still pretty cool. Dubbed the Pula Arena or the Arena of Pula, this is the sixth largest remaining Roman amphitheater in the world, and the only one left to have four side walls preserved. You’ll find it on the back of the 10 Croatian kuna note (the smallest banknote), and it’s the best preserved archaeological site in the country. Pay your admission fee, get the audio tour if that’s your flavor, then begin meandering.
Originally constructed from 27 BC – 68 AD, the arena once held gladiator fights for centuries. By the 5th century, the stones were already being plundered, and in the 16th century it was almost moved to Venice by the Venetian Empire. Restoration began in the early 19th century by the French governor of the area, and was adapted to hold theatrical productions starting in 1932. Even today, the tourist attraction holds concerts — and even featured a couple of ice hockey games in 2012 between a couple of Croatian teams.
It’s a little hard to tell how much of the stonework is original in some areas… and there’s a lack of signage on-site to say what’s going on.
Back in the day, there was room for up to 23,000 spectators. Today, there’s still plenty of room during events (though I’d definitely bring a pad to sit on unless you like stone!)
The main area is nice enough, but eventually you’ll want to head underground. The tunnels once used to funnel future victims to the overside, but today, it’s a worthy add-on:
Lots and lots of pots, anyone?
The more complete pots are carefully hung up along the wall…
…while the rest are carefully stacked for the world to appreciate. Some wine-pressing screws are around as well, though to be honest they aren’t as photogenic.
It’s the main stop in Pula, and a worthy stop if you’re on your way to Brijuni National Park or taking a weekend trip from Zagreb.
This place would have been a lot easier to reach via rented car. The Swedish Nomad has a great write-up on rental cars in Croatia, so check that out as well.
Name: Arena of Pula / Pula Roman Coliseum (Amfiteatar u Puli)
Address: Scalierova ul. 30, 52100, Pula (GPS: 44.873237, 13.850224)
Directions: From the Pula Bus Terminal, head out to the main road and turn left (west). Walk about 200 meters to the roundabout, then look left (about a 10 o’clock angle) and walk against traffic. This is Flavijevska — take the first left onto Učki uspon, then head straight for two short blocks until you come to a T. Turn right onto Emova and walk about 150 meters. By the time you reach the T you should be able to see the coliseum. Zig zag left and then right to reach the entrance.
Hours: hours vary by month, but open year-round from 9am-5pm. Opens at 8am from April to September and open until at least 8pm from April to September.
Admission: 50 kuna
Phone: 052 219 028
Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
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Also published on Medium.