What to see and photograph at Pula Arena, Croatia
Pula Arena is a Roman Amphitheater located on the Istria peninsula of Croatia. Reasons to visit Pula arena are;
- See a well preserved Roman Ampitheater
- View the real clothes and weapons that Gladiators used
- Visit the Pula Arena underground
- Watch a live music concert or a Gladiator battle
Pula is a small town and it’s likely you’ll be able to walk to the Pula Arena from your hotel. Hotels in Pula are good value.
Pula Arena is conveniently located on the edge of the historic center of Pula. Wherever you’re staying in the city it’s likely you’ll be able to walk to the arena. When I was walking from the Flixbus stop my accommodation in the historic center I walked right in front of the Roman amphitheater. When entering the city it’s a stunning site to see.
Pula Arena was constructed around the same time as the Colosseum in Rome. It was constructed in the first century under the reign of Roman Emperor Vespasian.
Pula Arena facts
Pula Arena is oval shaped, 130 meters in length and 100 meters in width. It’s one of the largest surviving Roman amphitheaters of the world. The amphitheater is build on a slope, the lower half has 3 stories and the top half only 2. There is a series of underground tunnels from which animals could be released into the arena. This arena was part of the main Gladiator circuit just as the Stade Louis II in Monaco is part of the Diamond League circuit today. The Arena has 4 towers. Each tower had 2 water tanks on top filled with perfumed water. This water was the source of a fountain and could also be sprayed over spectators. Pula Arena is the oldest ancient monument in Croatia.
Gladiator fights would take place in the Arena. Arena is the Latin word for sand. Romans would cover the battleground in sand to absorb the blood of the wounded or killed. The modern English word arena came from this practice by the Romans. The capacity of the arena in the first century was over 22,000 spectators.
Arena with a view
Whilst waiting for the next Gladiator battle, Romans could enjoy a view of the Adriatic Sea. There are 72 arches on each of the first 2 levels. On the top level there are 64 rectangular window shapes. The Romans knew how to enjoy a good view!
Entrance to Pula Arena underground
To access the Pula underground you must walk through a narrow tunnel. This is where beasts were kept before battle. Imagine all the history and killing which went on in the underground tunnels of Pula Arena. The beasts and gladiators which were killed during battle were dragged through these tunnels. With all the bloody history you may have a ghostly experience in the underground tunnels. There are several underground tunnels which lead to the subterranean gallery.
Pula Arena subterranean gallery
Directly below the center of the arena is the main underground, known as the subterranean gallery. It was carved out from solid rock and is directly below where battles were executed. After battle, killed or wounded beasts and gladiators were put on show in the subterranean gallery.
Gladiators at Pula Arena
In the arena you’ll find a room full of real Gladiator clothing and equipment. Once a week during the summer months Pula Arena hosts simulated Gladiator fights. This is as close as you’ll get today, experiencing how it was back in the day. It’s like a real life Gladiator movie. The event is called Spectacvla Antiqva (in Croatian).
Events at Pula Arena
Today, Pula Arena has a capacity of between 7000 to 12,000 spectators. It still hosts major events today. The Pula tourist information page has information on the latest events. There is the world renowned annual Pula Film Festival held at the arena. Often world class act perform concerts at Pula Arena. Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Elton John, Grace Jones and Tom Jones have all performed concerts here.
Pula Arena at night
Pula Arena closes in the evening. It’s still worth visiting when it’s closed. At night the arena is lit up. You can take some wonderful night shots of it. If you are lucky (or unlucky!) it will be raining and you’ll be able to make a reflection shot (above). As Pula is a lot quieter than Rome it’s likely you can photograph Pula Arena without people in the photo.
Pula Arena – Gift Store
After your visit to the Pula Arena, you will pass through the gift store. There are lots of souvenirs available in here from fridge magnets to Roman clothing. If you’re into Roman history, there are some interesting books on this subject. There are also photo books available showcasing Pula Arena.
Enjoy your visit to Pula Arena, Croatia
Enjoy your visit to one of the best preserved Roman Amphitheaters in the world. Make sure you check out the latest events before visiting. As well as a tour, you could see a famous singer in concert or a live Gladiator battle.