Pula is as urban as Istria gets. It is indisputably the region’s commercial centre and home to almost half its population. For shopping, culture or arrival by air, Pula is the place. The city’s growing status as a happening focus of the arts has been enhanced thanks to two recently opened exhibition spaces: the spectacularly renovated former church of Sveta Srca; and the ramshackle but promising Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria. The Pula Film Festival in July continues to be the biggest show in town, although the city has been catapulted into the music-festival premier league with the recent appearance of two major four-day events, Outlook in late August (featuring some of the biggest names in dubstep and reggae) and Dimensions in September (featuring more of the same with some more cutting-edge DJ activity thrown in).
What the town lacks in terms of attractive waterfront it more than makes up for in terms of antiquities. The original Roman Forum remains the major meeting point with cafés offering outdoor tables. Pula’s impressive Roman amphitheatre, or ‘arena’, hosts events all summer, both the Pula Film Festival and sundry mainstream concerts. The setting, though, cannot be gainsaid.The city’s sprawling waterfront includes a port handling close to one million tons of cargo every year, a marina for yachters, a forested stretch of beach with a promenade and, outside the centre, resorts, built in the 1960s and ’70s in Verudela and neighbouring Medulin.