The Roman Amphitheatre in Pula

The most fascinating monument in Pula is the roman amphitheatre called Arena. It is the sixth largest amphitheatre in the world. Due to its size it has been built outside the city walls. Today Arena is in the town centre. Its ground plan is elliptical and a slope on which it has been built is a foundation for the eastern part of the auditorium. Local limestone was used for construction that started in the first century AD. Gladiator fights took place in the central part that was covered by sand (hence the name arena which in Latin means sand). The spectators could sit or stand in the gallery. It is said that Arena could accommodate around 20.000 spectators. For concerts and events nowadays it accommodates around 5.000 people. The underground passages were used by gladiators and for storage. Animal cages were kept there as well. Today they house an exhibition dedicated to the production of olive oil and wine in Istria with a very nice collection of amphorae. In case of sun or bad weather the amphitheatre was covered. The external wall has four towers that had water cisterns on the top. The program in the amphitheatre lasted a whole day culminating with gladiator fights. Judgments and persecution of Christians took place in the Arena as well. Arena was an ideal place for social interaction and entertainment. Unfortunately once the Arena was not used any more its stone was plundered and Venetians used it for their palaces and squares. Thus, the Arena has been restored a couple of times. Today concerts, events and Pula Film Festival in the Arena are Thrilling. Sting, Eros Ramazzoti, Norah Jones, Placido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli and many other famous stars performed there.
Locals will gladly tell you a legend about the construction of the Arena. It claims that fairies brought the stone from the mount Učka and laid the stone around to build their town – Divić grad. As a rooster announced the rise of the sun and the arrival of people they had to abandon their project before finishing and putting a roof on the Arena.