The Pula Arena, built under the reign of Emperor Vespasian between 27 BC–68 AD (at the same time as the Colosseum in Rome), is the best-preserved Roman amphitheatre in the world. It is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre that has four side towers; it also represents all three Roman architectural orders. The amphitheatre, which was once the site of gladiator fights, is the best-preserved ancient monument in Croatia.
The design is elliptical, with gladiator fights taking place in the central flat arena and room for 20,000 spectators to sit in the stone tiers and stand in the gallery. During the Middle Ages, Pula Arena was used for fairs and knights’ tournaments. Today the venue seats 5,000 and is used for outdoor performances like operas, films, equestrian festivals and concerts. Its underground passageways, once used by the gladiators, now have regular viticulture and olive-growing exhibitions that include reconstructions of historic machines and storage vessels once used for the production and transportation of olive oil and wine.
Because of its large size and unique shape, the amphitheatre is located outside Pula’s old city walls. The road leading from the arena to the city center was built during the time of Emperor Vespasian, whom it was named after: Via Flavia. Today, it is one of Pula’s main city roads.