Pula is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia, situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula. Like the rest of the region, it is known for its mild climate, smooth sea, and unspoiled nature. The city has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing, shipbuilding, and tourism. Pula has also been Istria's administrative center since ancient Roman times.
Greek tradition attributed the foundation of Polai to the Colchians, mentioned in the context of the story of Jason and Medea, who had stolen the golden fleece. The Colchians, who had chased Jason into the northern Adriatic, were unable to catch him and ended up settling in a place they called Polai, signifying "city of refuge".
From 788 on Pula was ruled by the Frankish kingdom under Charlemagne, with the introduction of the feudal system. Pula became the seat of the elective counts of Istria until 1077. The town was taken in 1148 by the Venetians and in 1150 Pula swore allegiance to the Republic of Venice, thus becoming a Venetian possession. For centuries thereafter, the city's fate and fortunes were tied to those of Venetian power. It was conquered by the Pisans in 1192 but soon reconquered by the Venetians.
In 1238 Pope Gregory IX formed an alliance between Genoa and Venice against the Empire, and consequently against Pisa too. As Pula had sided with the Pisans, the city was sacked by the Venetians in 1243. It was destroyed again in 1267 and again in 1397 when the Genoese defeated the Venetians in a naval battle.
The Venetians took over Pula again in 1331 and would rule the city until 1797. During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, Pula was attacked and occupied by the Genoese, the Hungarian army and the Habsburgs; several outlying medieval settlements and towns were destroyed. In addition to war, the plague, malaria and typhoid ravaged the city. By the 1750s there were only 3,000 inhabitants left in ancient city, an area now covered with weeds and ivy.
With the collapse of the Venetian Republic in 1797 following military defeat at the hands of Napoleon, the city became part of the Habsburg Monarchy. It was invaded again in 1805 after the French had defeated the Austrians. It was included in the French Empire of Napoleon as part of the Kingdom of Italy, then placed directly under the French Empire's Illyrian Provinces.
Under the Italian Fascist government of Benito Mussolini, non-Italians, especially Slavic residents, faced huge political and cultural repression and many fled the city and Istria altogether.
The Nazi German army entered to fill the vacuum left by retreating Italian soldiers. The whole city became part of “Küstenland”, the occupied zone under the Third Reich. During German military rule (1943–1945), Pula was integrated into the Operational Zone Adriatic Coast, a German occupation zone.
Subsequently, the city's Croatian name, 'Pula', became the official name, while the former Italian one was 'Pola'. Since the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1992, Pula and Istria have become part of the modern-day Republic of Croatia.
- The Pula Cathedral or fully, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a co-cathedral in Pula, Croatia. Along with the Euphrasian Basilica it is one of the two official seats of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Poreč and Pula. The church is located on the south side of the Pula bay at the foot of the hill with the 17th century Venetian fort. The site of the present-day church has been used for religious worship since ancient Roman times and the first Christian churches on the site were built in the late 4th and early 5th century AD. These had gone through a series of enlargements and reconstructions over the ages. In 1242 the cathedral was heavily damaged in a Venetian raid and the ensuing fire. The damage was fully repaired in the 15th century when the building went through extensive reconstruction and the present-day sacristy was added. In 1707 the free-standing baroque-style bell tower was added, next to the 5th century baptistery in front of the basilica. The belltower was built using stones taken from the Roman-built Pula Arena. The present-day cathedral's classicist facade was built in 1712, at the time of bishop Bottari, when extensive works on the reconstruction of the basilica and the bell tower were launched and were eventually finished in 1924.
- Arch of the Sergii is an Ancient Roman triumphal arch. The arch commemorates three brothers of the Sergii family, specifically Lucius Sergius Lepidus, a tribune serving in the twenty-ninth legion that participated in the Battle of Actium and disbanded in 27 BC . This suggests an approximate date of construction : 29-27 BC. The arch stood behind the original naval gate of the early Roman colony. The Sergii were a powerful family of officials in the colony and retained their power for centuries. The honorary triumphal arch, originally a city gate, was erected as a symbol of the victory at Actium.
- The Communal Palace. The local government of the City of Pula is situated at the northern end of the main square of the old part of the City, called the Forum Square. The spot occupied by the Palace has been used for the public buildings since the Roman times, when the place was used as a part of the triade of Roman temples, of which today only Temple of Augustus remains. Construction of the new city hall, at the site of the Temple of Diana, was begun in the end of 13th century, and was finished in 1296.
- The Archaeological Museum of Istria is situated in the park on a lower level than the Roman theatre and close to the Twin Gates. Its collection was started by Marshall Marmont in August 1802 when he collected the stone monuments from the temple of Roma and Augustus. The present-day museum was opened in 1949. It displays treasures from Pula and surroundings from prehistory until the Middle Ages.
- The Pula Arena is the name of the amphitheatre located in Pula. The Arena is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. A rare example among the 200 Roman surviving amphitheatres, it is also the best preserved ancient monument in Croatia. The Arena was built between 27 BC - 68 AD, as the city of Pula became a regional centre of Roman rule, called Pietas Julia. The name was derived from the sand that, since antiquity, covered the inner space. It was built outside the town walls along the Via Flavia, the road from Pula to Aquileia and Rome. The amphitheatre was first built in timber during the reign of Augustus (2-14 AD). It was replaced by a small stone amphitheatre during the reign of emperor Claudius. In 79 AD it was enlarged to accommodate gladiator fights by Vespasian and to be completed in 81 AD under emperor Titus. This was confirmed by the discovery of a Vespasian coin in the malting.