Roman History Lesson in Pula

After leaving the family in Karlovac, we headed south west to the Istrian cities of Pula and Rovinj.

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Pula is the largest city in Istria and home to a lot of history.  It has been ruled by the Romans, Venetians, Byzantines, the Franks, the Hapsburgs, the Austro-Hungarian empire and even the French through Napoleon.

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One of the many ancient sites to visit is the coliseum, also known as the Pula Arena. The arena was built during the Roman Empire (between 27BC-68AD) and is one of six surviving Roman arenas in the world. It is the only arena to still have 4 side towers intact and was used by the Romans for gladiator events. During the Venetian rule, there was a plan to move the arena from its current site to Venice but the cost to do this was too much and it now remains in Pula, used mainly for concerts.

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Another piece of Roman history is the Temple of Augustus, built for the Emperor Augustus around 2BC to AD14. It was transformed from a temple into a church during the Byzantine empire and is now used to display Roman sculpture.

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If Pula is a mecca for history, then Rovinj is a destination for relaxation & shopping. The cute little steep alley ways are filled with shops and stalls selling anything from art, glass, souvenirs & clothing. There is really nothing you won’t find in Rovinj. On the top of the hill, you can find the basilica of St Euphemia. Built over an existing church, it has a large bell tower 60 metres high which replicates St Mark’s basilica in Venice.

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Our time in Rovinj was short and this blog does not do it justice. I recommend spending more than a few hours here. There is a reason it is the number 1 tourist destination in Croatia.

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