With millions of visitors each year, the Colosseum of Rome has become one of the most crowded tourist destination in the world. Alas, it normally takes hours to enter, just to get squeezed between large tourist groups and merchandise vendors. Luckily, there is an alternative.
Rising up on the Istrian peninsula, the Pula Arena is one of the largest surviving amphitheaters in the world. A rare example of all the Roman architectural entirely preserved. Built at the same time as the Colosseum, 27 BC – 68 AD, the arena was used for gladiator fights and public spectacles. In more recent years, it was the shooting location for the film adaption of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, featuring Anthony Hopkins.
Visit early morning and you might wander around the historic ground all by yourself. The amphitheatre is also open for cultural events, making it a lively place all year round. Attend a music concerts or join the Pula International Film Festival held in the arena once a year.
How do I get there?
Where: The Pula Arena is situated in the city center of Pula, northern Croatia.
How: Flights to Pula or Riljeka from major European cities. A ferry from Venice, Italy, depart daily to Pula during high season.
When: All year round, but best early spring or fall. The Pula International film festival is held every year in July or August.
All images © 2020 Erik Ekberger.
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