Arena Pula

Arena, the jewel of Roman architecture

The most prominent historical monument in Pula, without a doubt, is the Roman Amphitheatre. It is the sixth largest exiting amphitheatre in the world and is known as the Arena. Situated close to the coast, it obtained its presentday shape in the middle of the first century, although construction had started over a hundred years earlier, parallel with the organized migration of Romans to Istria and the formation of the first Roman colonies.

The Arena is located on a hillside. It has an elliptic shape and measures 132.5 m along its longer axis, and 106 m along its shorter axis. The area reserved for the audience could accommodate up to 25,000 spectators. The oval combat area measured 66 m along the longer axis and 40 m along the shorter. In the auxiliary rooms found directly beneath the combat area, wild animals were kept in cages. Additional equipment, needed for the games and for the spectacular public events held in the Arena, was also stored there. These events included gladiatorial combat, wild animal hunts and even public executions, where the condemned were brought before the wild animals.

In the eighteenth century researchers of Roman art began to take an interest in the Arena, one of the reasons for this being that it was the only amphitheatre with four square towers built into the outer wall. A wooden staircase, leading to the top, was housed within each tower. These towers also served as a means for reinforcing the stability of the construction. On a world scale it is significant because of the excellent state of its façade and the architectural elements and details found on the fourth floor.

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