A Magical Night in Pula When the Arena Was Built

A Magical Night in Pula When the Arena Was Built

The Arena or Amphitheatre of Pula is one of the most iconic postcard images from Croatia. It sits on top of a small hill, next to the sea, and is the sixth largest Roman amphitheatre in the world, as well as the biggest and most well-preserved ancient monument in Croatia. The few historical records we have show that its construction began during the time of Emperor Augustus in 1st century AD, and that it was expanded and completed during the reign of the Flavian dynasty.

Ivo Biočina

One story claims that it was built by Emperor Vespasian because he was so enthralled with his mistress, the ravishing Antonia Cenida from Pula. However, another story has been told in Istria for centuries, one which claims that this beautiful monument was the work of supernatural beings.

How the Fairies Built the Most Beautiful Stage in the World

In ancient times, well before the Roman era, the tame region of Istria was fairy territory. The delicate and almost impossibly beautiful creatures would dance and play all night, across the magical meadows and hills, and hide from people during the day. Since these fairies specialised in building, one night they came to the idea to build their own town. They worked diligently and brought stones down from the Učka Mountain, while sweat was dripping down their moonlit faces.

 

Carefully arranging the stones in a circle, the fairies built the awe-inspiring structure, row by row, rushing to finish the job before sunrise. Like true creatures of the night, the fairies hid from humans in their secret lairs with the sound of the first roosters crowing. 

In their rush to hide, they left behind some of the rocks scattered from Učka to the seashore, and the Pula Arena remained unfinished, missing a roof.

The people were so impressed with what they saw that they could only ascribe it to the work of mysterious forces, which led to them naming the amphitheatre Divić-grad (literally “the town of miracles”, divić being the old Slavic word for “miracle”, and grad meaning “town”).

Nowadays, the Pula Arena is a popular venue for spectacular concerts of some of the world’s greatest musicians, who have the opportunity to perform on the most beautiful open stage in the world.