Friday, December 16, 2011

Pula--May 22

Sunday we set out again. This time, we headed south to the cities of Pula and Rovinj.

Pula, the largest city in Istria, is very industrial and busy with port traffic. It is, however, also a huge tourist draw due its the well preserved Roman ruins.

We got to the city with no trouble, but got turned around in the city. We kept driving around tryin to look for a street with a familiar name, when we turned a corner and saw this:

Pretty cool, huh? Well, we weren't lost anymore. Built between 27 BC and 68 AD, the amphitheater is the sixth largest in the world and is one of the best preserved. Originally, it held 23,000 people. When Venice took over the area, senators proposed deconstructing the whole things and moving it to Venice. The stubborness of one senator prevented this from happening. It didn't prevent people of the city from using the limestone blocks to build the foundations of their own houses. While gladitorial combat was outlawed in the fifth century, combat between convicts sentenced to death continued into the seventh.

The arena has been slightly renovated to accomodate modern crowds. (Up to 5,000 people.) Artists from Marilyn Manson to Luciano Pavaratti have performed here. Loud concerts are now banned to protect the stucture's integrity.

After seeing the amphitheater, we took a short walking tour to see the city's other sites. There weren't many, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Silvia Sergius had this arch built to honor her brother, father-in-law, and husband. The inscription reads "Silvia of the Sergius family paid for this with her own money." Talk about customization.

The Arch of Sergii:

The other site I really enjoyed was the Temple of Augustus, completed about 14 AD. Under Byzentine rule, it was converted to a church (which is why it still exists), and later, it was used as a granary. It was struck by an Allied bomb during WWII , nearly destroying it, and rebuilt in 1947.

Temple of Augustus:

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