Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sightseeing Attractions in Istria Croatia

April 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Histria and Kvarner

Sightseeing Attractions in Istria Croatia

Sightseeing in Pula

Pula is well-known for its magnificent monuments from Roman era, when it was a colony known as Pietas Julia. It became an episcopal seat in 425 and still has the foundations of some 5th-century religious buildings.

It was destroyed by the Ostrogoths, but flourished again when it became the main Byzantine fleet in the 6th and 7th centuries: the cathedral and church of St Mary of Formosa date from this time.

In 1150 it came under Venetian rule, but by mid-17th century the population had declined to 300. Revitalized in 1856 when Austria made it the base for its fleet, it is still one of the most important naval bases in Croatia.

Today, Pula is a university town and, with Pazin, the administrative center of Istria Croatia.

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Church of St. Francis

On the slope of the hill between the Forum and the upper circular street, lies the monastic complex dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. Built at the same time as the adjecent monastery in the late 13th century, this whit stone church has a fine doorway with a Gothic rose window.

The finely cut stone blocks used for building the walls speak of the skillful masters who took part in the construction.

The interior is a single nave with tree apses; on the main altar is a splendid wooden 15th-century polyptych by the Emilian school.

Various exhibits from the Imperial Roman era can be seen in the monastery cloisters.

Arch of the Sergii

The arch was erected in the 1st century BC on the orders of Salvia Postuma Sergia, to honor three brothers who held important positions in the Roman Empire.

The arch is with fluted columns, a winged victory and Corinthian capitals. Its frieze has a bas-relief depicting a chariot pulled by horses.

Next door is a bar named Uliks („Ulysses“), in memory of James Joyce, who lived here for six months in 1904.

Church of St. Mary of Formosa

A small Byzantyne church, built on a Greek cross plan, this was once a chapel, part of the large Basilica of St. Mary of Formosa. Inside are remains of mosaics from 6th century, some of which are now in the Archaeological Museum of Istria.

It was built in the style of Ravenna churches, the only difference being the use of stone instead of brick. Due to its dimensions, method of construction and good state of preservation, the Chapel represents an extraordinary architectural masterpiece of its time.

Temple of Romae and Augustus

Built in the 1st century AD, this temple stands in the square which was once the site of the Roman forum. It is a splendid example of Roman architecture, built on simple lines, with six plain columns and beautiful carved capitals.

According to its shape it follows the typical pattern of temples.

Today it houses lapidarium of Roman sculpture (open May-Sep Mon-Fri 9:30-9; Sat-Sun 9:30-1)

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Along the main street that from Flavia Street leads to the Forum, within the city, stands the Cathedral of Pula. Cathedral was built at the site where Christians gathered already in the time of their persecution (until the 4th century). With the ages it grew larger and, in the 5th century, assumed its present-day shape. It had an elongated oblong shape whose interior was divided by two rows of columns. The area around the altar was in the north. In front, behind and around the altar area, still lie fragments of the floor mosaic from the 5th – 6th centuries, with memorial inscriptions of worshippers who paid for the decoration of the specific surface.

The oldest preserved remains of the church wall from the beginning of the 4th century can be seen from outside (the lower part of the rear wall belongs to this period).

Due to a fire in 1242 the church underwent reconstruction on several occasions. While the upper windows of the nave were built in the early Christian period, the windows of the aisles bear typical Gothic traits.

A baptistery in front of the church, cross-shaped by ground plan, was built in the 5th century. It was destroyed in 1885. In the beginning of the 16th century a new late Renaissance façade was built. And in the second half of the 17th century belfry in front of the church was erected.

Stone blocks from the Amphitheater were used for the reconstruction of the Cathedral.  East of the Cathedral, at the site of the present-day park, until 1657 stood the church dedicated to the patron saint of Pula – St. Thomas.

Church of St. Nicholas

This church dates from the 6th century but was partially rebuilt in the 10th century. Towards the end of the 15th century it was assigned to the Orthodox community. Inside are some fine icons from the 15th and 16th centuries.

Castle and Historical Museum of Istria

This star-shaped castle with four bastions houses the Historical Museum of Istria and was built by the Venetians in the 14th century on the ruins of the Roman Capitol in the city centre.

This walls linking the four towers offer splendid views over the city. Nearby are the remains of a 2nd-century theater.

Archeological Museum of Istria

The Archeological Museum is housed in the former German school, within a park which is reached from the Twin Gate. On display are finds from Pula and the region, with collections from the prehistoric era to the middle ages.

On the ground floor are architectural remains, mosaics, altars and other exhibits from antiquity to medieval times.

The rooms on the first floor contain exhibits from the neolithic to the Roman era.

Three rooms on the second floor are dedicated to roman antiquity (including a headless female statue found at nesactium, near Pula).

Two rooms have exhibits from the late-Classical to medieval periods. Of particular interest are pieces from Slavic tombs dating from the 7th to 12th centuries.

Twin Gate

In ancient and medieval times the whole city was surrounded by walls and was entered through about ten gates. The walls had become old and unnecessary so they were pulled down at the beginning of the 19th century. Parts of the walls between the Twin Gates and the Giardini square have been preserved until today.

The Twin Gate, from the 2nd-3rd centuries, has two arches with an ornate frieze through which you enter to inner yard. The Twin Gates today leads to the Archeological Museum and the Castle.

Gate of Hercules

South of the archeological Museum stands the single-arched Gate of Hercules. Built in the 1st centuy BC, it is the oldest and the best preserved Roman monument in the city. At the top of the arch is a carving of the head of Hercules with a club.

Close to the club is a damaged inscription, most interesting in the historical context since it contains the names of two Roman officials, Lucius Calpurnius Piso and Gaius Cassius Longinus to whom the Roman Senate had entrusted the duty to found a Roman colony at the site of today’s Pula.

The Forum

The cite of the Roman Forum has retained its name to this day; it is still an open space, now filled with cafés.

Directly ahead on the opposite side of the square is the Gothic Town Hall, and beside that stands the Temple of Romae and Augustus, built at the heart of the Roman city in the 1st century AD.

On the northern part of the Forum stood two twin temples and a central one dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Today only the Temple of Augustus has been fully preserved while of the second temple only the back wall, built into the Communal Palace in the 13th century, is visible.

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