A Short History of Pula
Pula is the largest and most dominant city in the Istrian Peninsula . It is situated on the Croatian coast of the Adriatic sea at the head of a deep gulf which provides the city with a good harbour and safe anchorage.
Pula was founded almost three thousand years ago when, according to legend, the son of the King of Colchis (situated on the east coast of the Black Sea ) and his men chased Jason and the Argonauts who had stolen their famous golden fleece.
When the king’s son was killed, his men were too frightened to return home and so founded Pula .
In the 3rd century BC there was a well developed trade with the Greeks which has been proven by archaeological finds.
The Roman conquest of the Istrian Peninsula gave special importance to Pula . Roman authority was established after 177 BC. In the 2nd half of the first century BC, Pula became a military stronghold and from then on an important commercial port.
Rome ’s history – the death of Caesar and the consequences – greatly affected Pula . The Emperor Augustus reconstructed the city, mainly because of its economic and strategic importance. Many of the most beautiful Roman buildings were constructed during this time.
Under Roman occupation, up to as late as the 5th century, Pula and the surrounding areas developed greatly, particularly as far as agriculture was concerned. Fishing and pottery manufacture also played an important part.
Pula continued, during these times, to conform to traditional Roman city or urban ideas. The large amphitheatre was built in the 1st Century. It is the 6th largest preserved amphitheatre in the world and could accommodate 20,000 spectators.
Christian churches started to appear as early as the 4th Century and the cathedral of Saint Mary was built in the 5th Century.
Pula remained an important Roman port until the close of the 5th Century.
In the 6th Century the city came under Byzantine rule.
Towards the end of the 8th Century there came a period of Frankish rule. Then in the middle ages it came under the control of Venice .
Because of various conflicts, Pula suffered a period of unrest under Venetian rule. In 1379 the Venetian fleet was defeated and Genoa captured the city, plundered and destroyed it. The region suffered from the loss of its population and was affected by plague and much of the classical architecture of the city was ruined. A new fort and several fortifications were constructed in the 17th Century when the Venetians had re-established rule.
After the fall of Venice in 1797 Pula fell to the Austrian empire and became, after 1866, the main base of the Austrian Imperial Navy.
In the mid 1880s the population numbered over 20,000 and just before the 1st World War the city had almost 60,000 inhabitants. In this period the port commercially and the city economically came to life.
After the defeat of the Monarchy in 1918, Pula was occupied by the Italian troops and the whole of Istria became part of the Kingdom of Italy . In later years, the city was occupied by the German military and was heavily bombed.
After liberation in 1945, Pula came under Anglo-American administration. After many diplomatic dealings, it became, in 1947, part of Croatia within the Federal Peoples Republic of Yugoslavia.
The Italian population, unhappy with this decision, left in huge numbers. However, Pula managed to pull itself together and began to grow again. Shipbuilding industry and tourism all helped in the revival.
All these elements, together with Istrians’ genuine hospitality have helped towards a thriving and welcoming city.
Thank you to Janice who wrote this while on holiday in Hiza Suzanna.
Nigel & Sue Simpson, Istria Life
Istra Zivot d.o.o Tourist Agency
Glavani 4 52207 Barban Croatia
00385 52 522 920 00385 91 896 4525