The Amphitheater

The amphitheater is located approximately 200 meters to the northeast outside of the city walls of Pula, in accordance with the Roman land division grid. It is believed that construction works began already during the period of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), a

The two central axes of the outer wall mantle of the amphitheater at Pula measure 132.5 and 105.1 m, and its maximum height measures 32.45 m. The amphitheater was erected in Tuscan style, covering an area of 11, 466 m2. It is estimated that it could receive approximately 23,000 spectators. Built on the slope of a hillock, on the western side facing towards the sea, the amphitheater at Pula has four floors - the raised foundations with entrances and three stories, whereas in its eastern section it lies on a naturally elevated terrain, the masoned part of the structure being, hence, considerably lower: only the two upper stories rise from the ground. Located in the main axis on the outer mantle of the amphitheater, are arches measuring 4 m in width, which are larger than the rest, accentuating thus the main entrances (portae pompae). The entrance on the southern end of the longer axis of the amphitheater was the most important one because it faced the city. It was on this side that the main entrance into the fighting ring was likewise located. The second story of the auditorium was masoned along the entire circumference of the amphitheater and opens up into 72 semi-circular arcades. The third story belonged to an oval, ring-shaped gallery that was roofed with a slanting roof consisting of ceramic tegulae and imbrices, which unlike both inferior stories opened to the outside with 64 square windows. The cornice at the top of the second story supported the square podia with rectangular hollows for the insertion of wooden masts that topped the amphitheater. The potential danger of erosion and sliding land due to rainwater was lessened with the construction of a system of channels for dealing with unwanted rainwater. The fighting ring (arena) situated in the middle of the amphitheater measures 67.9 meters alongside its longer axis, and 41.6 meters along the shorter one. The oval shape of the fighting ring was ideal for processions, line-ups, and the development of fighting strategies as well as the advancement and retreat of armed combat groups. Located underneath the fighting ring was an auxiliary subterranean chamber that was for the most part carved out of bedrock and partially masoned up to the necessary height. It served as storage for cages that housed the beasts, and for various technical tools used in the organization of the spectacles. In case of bad weather the auditorium was covered with a tarpaulin, using a system consisting of sets of pulleys and ropes. Wooden masts carrying the tarpaulin went through the special openings on the stone gutter. Located on the other end, above the edges of the arena, was a metal ring supported with vertical masts. The ropes that were extended between the exterior masts and the interior metal ring carried the tarpaulin.

The amphitheater at Pula differs from the rest in that it features four rectangular towers that had been included into the outer wall mantle. Each of them housed an auxiliary wooden staircase used to climb to the top and to the water reservoirs, and besides, the towers increased the stability of the wall mantle and strengthened the structure on the whole. The towers were covered with a slanting roof made of ceramic slabs and roof tiles resting on a structure of wooden beams. At the top of each tower were two separate water reservoirs that were filled with rainwater.

Gladiator fights and hunting spectacles were held at the amphitheater. The spectators did not have to pay an entrance fee; however, there was a rigid seating scheme in the amphitheater, which mirrored in detail the existing social hierarchy regarding wealth and prominence. Public legal proceedings were also held in the fighting ring, and the ad bestias punishment was executed there, intended for murderers, bandits and mutineers who did not enjoy Roman civic rights, it consisted of unarmed or poorly armed convicts being brought to the beasts. Members of the Christian community were tortured in amphitheaters in many cruel ways, resulting in a massive development of the cult of martyr saints. A historical tale about the martyrdom of St. Germanus is linked with the amphitheater at Pula, who later became the patron saint of Pula.

After spectacles involving gladiators were outlawed at the beginning of the 5th century, the amphitheater was left to dilapidate, and it was perceived as a valuable source of readymade building material, though always remaining a public property. The amphitheater has for centuries attracted the interest of travel writers, artists and architects. Drawings of the amphitheater are to be found in works dealing with architecture, written by some of the most distinguished authors such as Sebastiano Serlio, Andrea Palladio, Antoine De Ville and Thomas Allason. The amphitheater adorned panoramas of Pula, geographical maps as well as numerous albums of drawings depicting antique monuments and other sights, which were drawn by artists such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Jacob Spon and George Wheler, Robert and James Adam, Charles Louis Clerisseau, Louis François Cassas and August Tischbein. Archaeological explorations of the amphitheater have started in the middle of the 18th century, works on its conservation and restoration are still continuing to the present day.

User Reviews

I just returned from the National Parks/Dalmatia tour in late August 2019 and it exceeded my expectations in pretty much everything!!! The views were just amazing, this is a beautiful country and they do a great job putting us on routes to safely see that beauty. If you have the extra time, do the National Park tour extension, the parks and riding are incredible!

I went as a solo rider and met wonderful people from Australia & the US. The food was some of the best I've ever had in my life. As a gluten-free, pescatartian (fish only) I was a little worried about the food but this was the perfect trip for a fish lover and they even had GF bread at many of the locations. Petra said they focus on making sure the restaurants have great food and wine options, and they sure did!!!

The courses were pretty hills and we had some more recreational riders and some pretty avid riders and all were accommodated. They have new Trek bikes that performed great. A couple riders had e-bikes to give a little assistance up some hills, so keep that in mind if you do not ride a whole lot and want a little extra help to keep it at a pleasant pace.

I did a trip through Tuscany with Backroads last year and loved it so I was a little worried about going on a tour with a different company, but I tell you what, I'd go with Cycling Croatia over Backroads in a heartbeat for any trip! The value for the money is much more reasonable and the hotels, food, cycling, support on the course, guides and cultural experiences cannot be beat with Cycling Croatia.

Thank you to Petra, Kruno, Mario & Veki for an unforgettable trip!! 

Andi Comfort , Minneapolis, MN

What a fabulous trip! This company is absolutely first rate. Krunoslav and Petra, who not only own the company, but accompany you on the tour, are engaging, knowledgeable, and amazingly organized.The hotels, the food, and the routes which were chosen were all excellent. We both ride electric bikes at our home in San Diego, and they provided us with superb electric bikes. Better than the ones we own.

The electric bikes allowed us to arrive at our destination after doing quite a few hills, with big smiles on our faces. I strongly recommend that you spend two extra days before the trip in Split, and two extra days at the end of the trip in the Dubrovnik. Both are Fascinating beautiful cities.

Thank you Krunoslav and Petra for a remarkable week in lovely Croatia......probably the best organized bike trip we've ever done!!

Cheers Paul and Nelly

Paul Barry and Nelly Dean, San Diego, California

First of all, Croatia is an extraordinary place to visit and to bicycle. The scenery is amazing, the history deep and fascinating, and the food fresh, delicious, and healthy. The views from the ridges of the Dalmatian islands were exceptional.

Kruno and Petra provided a wonderful mix of thoughtful bike routes, extra features, and fine dining. They were supportive of all levels of biking, including ambitious road-bikers and slower tourers. They provided van support whenever needed, and they and their team quickly attended to any needed bike adjustments. All bike equipment was in excellent condition. Once Petra knew that one of us was keenly interested in horticulture she was quick to provide as much information as possible.

All meals were included, as were frequent wine tastings, a visit to an olive-oil museum, and an oyster tasting at a cultivated-oyster farm. Two of the meals were very special, in that they had connections to organic farming and gardening and were prepared by dedicated artisans in their homes.The hotels were all excellent and ranged from accommodations within the Diocletian Palace in Split to beach resorts to a luxurious facility overhanging Dubrovnik.Because of the personal attention, the inclusion of all the meals, and the choices of hotels and restaurants, this was not only a spectacular tour but also an extraordinary value. I would recommend Cycling Croatia with Kruno and Petra to anyone.

Mark Schlawin, U.S.A.

We just returned home after the 10 day/9 night Dalmatia and National Parks tour, with an extra (independent) day in Zagreb and Dubrovnik that Kruno helped arrange. I won't bore you with all the details of our trip - just assure you that you can't go wrong signing up for this one.

Croatia is stunning anyways - I quickly adopted #allbeautifulallthetime when posting photos.

The tour itself was top notch also. We've never been on a premium Butterfield & Robinson tour, but extended family in our group had. They felt 80-90% of the Cycling Croatia tour was superior to the level of accommodations/meals/support on the B&R tour - at a fraction of the price. (And none of this CC tour was substandard.)

Bottom line: great country, great value, great itinerary, great guides, great food, great wine. Highly recommended.

Scott Ryser, U.S.A.

Dalmatia and National Parks Tour

We took this tour with Kruno and his team in early October 2016.
If you have time, we'd highly recommend the National parks addition to the Dalmatia Tour - they really have to be seen to be believed and the descent overlooking Pag Island was one of the highlights of our trip.

As with all the other reviews, we were blown away by the scenery: rugged mountains; crystal clear waters that you could see through forever; Plitvice Lakes (extraordinary - no photo can really do it justice); the islands, with their variations; and of course the cities with the Dioletician Palace in Split and the walled city of Dubrovnik.

From the pick up at the airport to final arrival in Dubrovnik, everything was taken care of. It was great to know we were in such safe hands. Kruno and his team (Mario and the others) were all terrific: nothing was too much trouble. The food was fabulous with lots of traditional fare at lunch and great evening meals in unusual locations, rather than the standard restaurant fare you might expect.

As they say in Australia "do yourself a favor!" And book this trip!

Gillian Harrex, Australia

We toured with Cycling Croatia in July 14, our family of 4 (inc sons aged 19 & 16) was a mixture of different abilities and fitness levels; it was one of the best holidays we've ever had.

Kruno and Marko are exceptional hosts; they took real care, providing all the support we needed (and some needed more than others!) but also gave us space when needed. They were knowledgable, informative, helpful, patient, friendly (and occasionally hilarious)

The holiday itself was very well organised, the cycling was challenging enough for one very keen cyclist in our group, and enjoyable for everyone thanks to the great support for those who didn't want so much of a challenge.

Croatia was wonderful - what a beautiful country - and we felt that Cycling Croatia had really made an effort to show us the true spirit of the country with some fantastic visits to local enterprises, where we sampled many Croatian delights! Also, the route followed some roads we would never have found ourselves, amazing scenery to rival the Amalfi Coast (but much, much quieter),
and beautiful bays with wonderful swimming that it seemed only Croatians knew about.

The accommodation was of mixed quality - there were a couple of amusingly 'quirky' hotels (and I should mention that one of these isn't on the standard list for this tour - our tour was tailored to our own needs with a couple of extra nights) - but all were in great locations, and didn't diminish the overall quality of the tour/holiday. A couple of the hotels were exceptionally good.

In summary: we ate, drank (quite a lot - Zivjeli!), cycled, sweated, and laughed all the way around beautiful Southern Dalmatia in great company. It was an outstanding holiday. We look forward to cycling with them again in future.

Alison Lawson, Edinburgh, Scotland

We cycled with Kruno and his team from June 13-19, it was our first cycling holidays. I usually go to all inclusive resorts and go for daily excursions, but with Cycling Croatia, the vacation is the excursion. Yes you'll likely be tired at first, but it's a good tired and you'll be rewarded with excellent food and company each day. By the end of the week, I felt like a million bucks. Also, I can't say enough about the professionalism of Krunos and his team. The are extremely friendly, always prepared and will bend over backwards for their guest. The bikes were brand new shinny trek 7.4 hybrids or trek road bikes (not sure what model) but also new. My wife and I both started with a road bikes, but quickly discovered using hybrids was the way to go. Not used to road bikes, Kruno traded my bike for the hybrid he was using half-way during the first ride. After coming into a curb too hard, the boys repaired my flat tire like a nascar pit crew. Looking at the daily distances, we initially believed that we would tour for only half-days and quickly realized that the daily rides are actually meant to fill out the day (but with breaks to visit wineries, an olive oil factory, oyster and mussels tasting, etc). Dinners were always filled with good conversation (group dinners every night except for one evening), the food was good to excellent and wine (or the drink of your choice) was included most nights. Marco with his interesting history lessons will take you back in time and teach you (in an amusing way) about Croatian history. I guess my only complaint was disbanding our group on the last day. Five stars for this class act company!!!! 

Julie and Pascal, Otawa, Canada

My wife and I have recently returned from the Dalmatia Cycling trip, and quite simply, it was the best holiday we have had in years. The coastal scenery is stunning, the food and drink are excellent, and the trip itself is very well planned and organised by Kruno and Petra. They really were the perfect hosts, with Petra taking care of you on the bike, and Kruno following closely in his van should you need any help. The help extended to more water, ice, fruit, snacks, and if you wanted a rest, putting your bike on the roof rack and helping you into the van. Spot on. No stress, no pressure to keep up with the group, just do your own thing knowing that help is never far away. So, the same as other trips then?
Not really. The difference on this trip was the emphasis that both Kruno and Petra paid to make sure everything ran smoothly and that you had a really enjoyable time. Nothing is too much trouble, and you see and do things that most tourists to Croatia will never experience. The oyster farm for instance, plus the meal with the local family on Korcula was epic. I have never seen so much meat placed in front of a small group of people. We did our best, but we were never going to finish it off. For me personally though, it was the small things that made this an 11/10 trip as opposed to simply 10/10. For instance, there are 3 winery visits on the itinerary, but whilst my wife loves the grape, I prefer a cold lager. At dinner on the first evening, Kruno took note of this, and when we were sitting in front of a table of food at the first winery, and everyone was starting to sample their first wine, lo and behold, Kruno had popped to the van and returned with 2 ice cold bottles of beer for me. To say that was appreciated was an understatement, and at that moment in time, I would have given the trip a 12/10. Needless to say, that pattern continued at subsequent winery stops, plus the visit to the oyster farm. A small detail I know, but it's things like that that really do make the difference.
So, would we recommend the trip? Absolutely. Would we return to Croatia for another cycling trip? No doubt about it, and have already pencilled in a week next year, of course with Cycling Croatia, only this time on their trip further north. 
To conclude, a top trip, with top hosts, and I cannot recommend both Croatia and Cycling Croatia enough. 

Graham & Beryl Carney , South Yorkshire, UK

We were 4 South Africans that joined the Dalmatia tour in August. In total we were 10 riders in the tour. Previously we were on self-organized cycling tours and never joined a formal tour. This tour exceeded our biggest expectations. A 100%
overall point for satisfaction is a huge understatement! Kruno and Petra, the company owners, were our tour guides.
They were extremely professional, friendly, very helpful, caring and informative. They were the best hosts any tour can dream of. They went the extra mile to help and accommodate all the individual needs. The meet and greet evening was great with the group. We had a great dinner together and our beautiful cycle shirts were handed to everyone. Kruno briefed us in detail about the first day and had everyone at ease and very excited. We had very good bicycles , helmets, water bottles and bags for small stuff on the bicycle – all tagged with your name. Small bags with personal belongings were transported in the backup van. Kruno drove the backup van and Petra joined us on the bicycles.
Every morning we were briefed about the route and the plans for the day. We also received a detailed map and kilometre markings for each day. During the day we were entertained with lots of fruit, water, energy bars, ice etc. The backup van was always in the nearby distance. Accommodation (hotels) was excellent with great breakfast served and all were centrally located. The logistics (luggage, bikes, dinners etc.) was outstanding and Kruno was key in this success. 
Kruno and Petra introduced us to Croatian food, wine and culture. We visited several wine cellars for wine tasting and delicious snacks. The several flavours of grappa were fantastic!! We also visited an ancient olive farm – again wine and snacks were served. The ferry to a private island to enjoy the fresh oysters and mussels was one of the many highlights!!
We cycled about 50 km a day. The routes are well selected by Kruno and Petra. Croatia is really the most beautiful country we visited - especially the Adriatic Sea and little villages and harbours.
The cameradie between the group members were fantastic. The rest of our group was 5 ladies from Denver and a travel writer. We had good laughs and motivated each other. 
We recommend this tour as a “must do”. It is absolute worth every pound. Everything is perfectly organized, the Dalmations are BEAUTIFUL and the guides SUPERB – just register for the tour, sit back on your bike, relax and enjoy every moment!!!

Jan, Anna-Mari, Marina and Dimmie, South Africa