Tag Archives: Pula

On This Day – The Roman Amphitheatre at Pula

Without doubt the most important and most impressive building in Pula is the first century Roman Amphitheatre.  It is the sixth largest in the world and one of the best-preserved examples of its kind.

The Coliseum in Rome was built at about the same time and is the biggest Roman Amphitheatre and could seat a massive fifty-thousand spectators (Some estimates suggest eighty thousand but generally about fifty thousand is the agreed capacity of the stadium), the second largest was Capua, also in Italy but now sadly in ruin, which had only a slightly smaller capacity, and the third was in El Djem in Tunisia with a capacity of thirty-five thousand.

The Amphitheatre in Pula was designed for about twenty-five thousand and there were similar sized stadiums in Verona in Italy and at Nimes and Arles in Southern France so this was more of a Championship rather than a Premiership Ground.

I say this but it seems that no one can be absolutely sure about which was the largest in terms of capacity and it is generally agreed that this was the Coliseum but we can be more certain about physical size and there was a plaque nearby that claimed that this was the third largest in the Roman Empire. Interestingly that using this particular criteria the plaque only listed the Coliseum as second largest but it’s like I have always said – size isn’t the most important thing!

We walked around the external walls and I was immediately struck by the grandeur and magnificence of the building.

I have been to Rome and seen the Coliseum and in my opinion nothing can compare with that but this magnificent building made that assessment a close run thing. It towered mightily above us stretching up into the clear blue sky and looking proud and strong. The area around it is open and accessible and that makes viewing it in many ways easier than looking at the Coliseum surrounded as that is by a busy main road and a constant throng of tourists jostling for photographic opportunities.

There are over two hundred surviving Roman amphitheatres across what was the Roman Empire and this is one of the best to see. There is still a lot missing however as parts of it had been dismantled over the years to provide ready prepared paving for roads and a convenient supply of building materials for later construction projects such as the Venetian fortress built nearby.

Thankfully most of the vandalism was restricted to the internal seating and terracing and the external walls with their towering arches are still left in place to see today. Underneath the arena there is a small museum housed in the underground corridors where exotic animals and gladiators waited their turn to be raised to the stadium for their part in the bloody show and one can only try to imagine what a brutal and thoroughly unpleasant place this might once have been.

The amphitheatre was built on sloping ground so that the part facing the sea has three levels and the other side facing the land has two. The great plinths which form the base are visible, along with two orders of arches divided by pilasters and an attic of rectangular windows.

The amphitheatre was part of the primary gladiator circuit and remained in use until the fifth century and in that time it is impossible to imagine how many men and animals died in this place.

When it was in use large beams supported awnings which protected the spectators from the sun or the rain. Four towers around the perimeter had cisterns containing perfumed water that could be sprinkled on the crowd because the smell of animals, butchered bodies and fear must have been rather distressing even for a blood-thirsty mob. Under the fifteen entrances was a ditch served by elevators for beasts, people and stage sets to be moved easily about.

It was late afternoon now so having completed our tour of the amphitheatre and the underground museum it was time to leave and drive to our hotel which was in the nearby fishing village of Fažana.

Postcard From Pula, Croatia

Pula Croatia 1

I have visited the city of Pula twice, the first time in 2007 and then again in 2011.

Here are some pictures…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

Fazana Croatia Sunset

In the sky the late sun and some occasional clouds were beginning to assemble into an impressive sunset ensemble like a bonfire in the sky and with Kim’s magic camera (if you remember, it can capture a sunset even if there isn’t one) it seemed certain that we would be able to get some good pictures.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Move

Fazana Croatia Sunset

In the sky the late sun and some occasional clouds were beginning to assemble into an impressive sunset ensemble like a bonfire in the sky and with Kim’s magic camera (if you remember, it can capture a sunset even if there isn’t one) it seemed certain that we would be able to get some good pictures.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Angiolo Mazzoni del Grande Staircase Pula

Spiral Staircase – City Post Office, Pula, Croatia

In a more modern part of the city we chanced across a pleasant little square with a water fountain and lined with nineteenth century buildings that had once been the bourgeois commercial centre at the height of the Austrian Empire.

In this square was the City Post Office which was a much later twentieth century addition built in 1933 and although unremarkable from the outside had hidden inside a magnificent Gaudi like spiral staircase which rose majestically from the ground floor to the top of the building in an extravagant scarlet sweep that oozed style and grandeur.

The building was designed by Angiolo Mazzoni del Grande who was the chief architect for the Ministry of Communications and for the State Railways under the Mussolini regime in Italy.  He was one of the most outstanding Italian architects of the modern period and was responsible for the design of many public buildings and railway stations across Italy that were characteristic of the Fascist building boom.

It was an unusual discovery and it would be much better housed in a more important building but this was a hidden gem of Pula and I am glad that we found it.

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Review of The Year – 2013

Writing Paper and Pen

Please excuse me a self-indulgent blog to begin the new year as I look back over the previous one.

The top ten most hit blog pages in 2013 on my Travel Blog have mostly surprised me but then I don’t understand how search engines work.  I say hit blog pages rather than read because I am neither conceited enough of sufficiently naive to claim that a hit equals a read.

In 2012 the blog recorded 170,889 hits and the upward trend continued into January and I was optimistic that this number was just going to keep going up but then Google changed their search criteria it stopped and fell back and has never recovered.  I have finished the year with less than half of the previous year total with only 79,450 hits but in November I did manage to limp past half a million in total.

These are the Top Ten blogs of 2013:

No. 1 

Krakow,  Salt Mine

Cathedral Wieliczka Salt Mine

First posted on April 6th 2010

This post is up from number 3 in 2012 to number 1 this year with 5,030 hits. I posted this in April 2010 after returning from a visit to Krakow in Poland.  It was a good trip but I am not sure why so many people would hit on it.  It is not as interesting as my trip to Auschwitz or the Crazy Mike Communist Tour.

No. 2

Mount Vesuvius

Vesuvius still smoking and active

First posted on March 25th 2010

4,220 hits and a second year in the Top Ten and up three places.  A bit of a surprise because this is the account of a day trip to Mount Vesuvius whilst on a holiday to Sorrento in 1976 with my dad.  From my memories of the same holiday I posted several blogs about visits to CapriNaplesPompeiiThe Amalfi Drive and Rome but these have only achieved a handful of hits between them.

No. 3

Moscow and Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin Mausoleum

First posted on July 6th 2012

Strait in this one at number 3 with 1,740 hits.  Cameras and mobile phones are strictly forbidden because the authorities don’t want snapshots of Comrade Lenin turning up on the internet in peoples’ Blogs or Trip Advisor reviews so they have to be left in a locker room and if anyone tries to defy this and is caught by the thorough security checks then there punishment is to be sent to the back of the queue!  It seems however that a couple of visitors have somehow sneaked a camera in and I found the pictures through Google and I assume people find my post in the same way.

No. 4

Norway, Europe’s most Expensive Country

epcot-norway-viking

First posted on February 15th 2011

1,510 hits – that’s about 2,000 less than the previous year but still holding on to fourth place.  This was a second blog about my trip to Haugesund in January 2011. It contains some interesting facts and figures which might explain the number of hits that it has received but I am not really convinced that this is the reason unless top European economists are using it for research purposes!

No. 5

Travel Journal 2

Fifth place with 1,060 hits and which demonstrates the importance of an About page.

No. 6

Royal Garden Party

Palace Invite 3

First posted on June 26th 2009 and therefore the oldest post in the top ten.

1,000 hits and staying in the Top Ten and up one place from number 7.  This one has always been popular especially around the Spring and Summer when invitations to the Royal Garden Party are going out and when people are wondering how to get one or what to wear if they have one.

No. 7

Travel Tips when Flying Budget Airlines

Ryanair over the Alps

First posted on August 2nd 2011.

940  hits and also going up one place.  I first wrote on this subject in 2009 and it immediately started getting hundreds of hits and then in 2011 it just stopped completely.  I reviewed and reposted it and changed the title from the specific ‘Travel Tips when Flying Ryanair’ to the more general title that it has now and hey presto the hits started coming again.

No. 8

Twelve Treasures of Spain – Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Sagrada Familia Cathedral Barcelona

First posted on March 2nd 2013 so the most recent post in the top ten so at under a year I will be interested to see what happens to this one in 2014.

With 750 posts a newcomer in the top 10 this year.  The “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” was a contest/poll that was conducted by the Spanish Television Company Antena 3 and the radio broadcaster Cope. The final results were announced on 31st December 2007.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the eight out of the twelve that I have visited.  Tenth in the competition and the final Cathedral in the list is the unfinished Gaudi masterpiece Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

No. 9

Onyx UK and an Inappropriate Visit to the Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge Naked Dancers

First posted on August 23rd 2011.

Another post devastated by Google changes and only 696 this year so dropping like a stone from number 2 to number 9. I have written a few times about my recollections of working in waste management in the private sector in the 1990s.  All of the posts manage a respectable number of hits but this one gets the most.  I don’t suppose for one minute that people are interested in my stories of mismanagement, incompetence and rubbish collection but they do like to read about dancing on a nightclub stage in Paris.

No. 10

Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius – Living on the Edge of Disaster

52 Naples

First posted on March 23rd 2013, two days before the Vesuvius post at no. 2.

This one surprised me with 690 hits and a first show in the annual top ten because it is an old post from May 2010 which only goes to show that old material sometimes has legs.

There is a famous phrase that says ‘See Naples and die!’ which originated under the Bourbon regime and means that before you die you must experience the beauty and magnificence of Naples.  Some, less charitable, now say that the city is so mad, dangerous and polluted that death might possibly be a consequence of a visit there and my post is about Vesuvius, Pollution, Pizzas and Crime!

If you have read one of these posts or any of the 1,140 others on my site ‘Have Bag, Will Travel’then thank you very much!  I guess it proves that George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) was right when he said: “The three most exciting sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”  

Dropping out of the Top Ten this year were:  Norway, Haugesund and the Vikings,  Pula, Croatia and Onyx UK and the Dog Poo Solution

Vikings

Roman Amphitheatre Pula Croatia  Dog Mess Solution

And just ‘bubbling under’ …

Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Antoni GaudiGermany, Triberg the Cuckoo Clock Capital of the WorldTwelve Treasures of Spain – Seville Cathedral and Russia, Tsars in our Eyes – The Grand Palace at Peterhof

A Life in Ruins – Roman Amphitheatre at Pula, Croatia

Pula Croatia

The flights to Pula were an irresistible bargain at only £16 return, which effectively meant that they were being subsidised by Ryanair because we didn’t even have to pay the full Government flight taxes.  Sitting next to us was a couple from Kenilworth who had an impressive capacity for drinks from the sky-bar.  They loaded up with beers and whiskey on its first pass down the aisle and they restocked when it returned back the other way.  I like a gin and tonic to help pass the flight but I couldn’t possibly compete with these two heavyweight boozers.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Angiolo Mazzoni del Grande Staircase Pula

Spiral Staircase – City Post Office, Pula, Croatia

In a more modern part of the city we chanced across a pleasant little square with a water fountain and lined with nineteenth century buildings that had once been the bourgeois commercial centre at the height of the Austrian Empire.  In this square was the City Post Office which was a much later twentieth century addition built in 1933 and although unremarkable from the outside had hidden inside a magnificent Gaudi like spiral staircase which rose majestically from the ground floor to the top of the building in an extravagant scarlet sweep that oozed style and grandeur.

The building was designed by Angiolo Mazzoni del Grande who was the chief architect for the Ministry of Communications and for the State Railways under the Mussolini regime in Italy.  He was one of the most outstanding Italian architects of the modern period and was responsible for the design of many public buildings and railway stations across Italy that were characteristic of the Fascist building boom.  It was an unusual discovery and it would be much better housed in a more important building but this was a hidden gem of Pula and I am glad that we found it.

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Croatia, Istria

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Istria 2011, Markets and Fortresses

Pula Istria Croatia

After we arrived we parked in the same car park and went out into the town to visit the market that was close by.  There was an outside area with rows of colourful pitches with stalls straining under the weight of fruit and vegetables all presented for purchase in an untidy but satisfying way but the best part of the market was the covered building constructed of iron and glass which housed the butchers and the delicatessens and best of all the fishmongers.

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