Sunday, 11 June 2017

Croatia June 2017: Part 4

Another day in the sun and we headed south along the coast to Pula, reknowned for its Roman amphitheatre. And I finish up with a shot of a bee that I'm rather pleased- the shot not the bee, although it's a mighty fine Croatian bee.
Constructed between 27 and 64 AD, the amphitheatre (arena) in Pula is amongst the six largest surviving of its type. By all accounts, it is the best preserved ancient monument in Croatia. It is certainly impressive and, at this time of the year, had the added bonus of being busy but not oppressively so.
What you see now is the third amphitheatre to be built on the site. The first was made of timber, which was replaced by a small stone one, which was subsequently itself replaced by this one. It was built of local limestone, the original colour of which can be seen in the cleaned portion to the left - cleaned not renovated. When new, it must have been a dazzling sight and visible for miles around - a good way of telling the natives who was in command.
The sheer scale and intricacy of amphitheatres always amazes me. Plus the fact that they are built to a pretty standard design.. I routinely ponder on the logistics of building these structures. Someone must have estimated the required number of blocks, for example, and someone else would have ensured that they were supplied and delivered at the right time. I suppose the penalties for making a cock-up were pretty severe and were an incentive to get it right - first time. I wonder if there were Roman project managers who had the 'big' picture (picture maximus?) and controlled everything. There must have been.
There was little to see of what would have been the underground areas that housed the gladiators and animals. The amphitheatre remained in use until the 5th century, when emperor Honorius prohibited gladiatorial combats. It was not until 681 that all combats were forbidden and the amphitheatre ceased to be used. It then gradually fell into decline and stone plundered by the local population for their own pet building projects. One such was the bell tower of the local church shown above. The pilfering continued until an enlightened bishop in the thirteenth/fourteenth century put a stop to it. Hooray for him.
An abundance of amphorae. Why do they always have pointy bottoms? Actually, they don't as there were many different types and some of them are more conventionally shaped. Those with the pointy bottoms are 'transport amphorae'. Apparently this shape makes them easier to store in racks on boats and carts and the big handles are good for moving them. Also, the pointy end makes it easy to plonk them down in sand and earth.
The Temple of Augustus, probably built during the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, which puts it between 2 BC and 14 AD. The best of its type outside of Rome, or so they say. And who am I to gainsay that?
The Triumphal Arch of the Sergii, built around 30BC, honouring the achievements of the Sergius family, a powerful dynasty of colonial officials. Once incorporated into the old city walls, it now lies sandwiched rather incongruously between two restaurants.
Apart from gulls, the bird we saw very commonly was the Jay. Of course we get them in the UK but, more often than not, I always seem to see them as they fly away from me. They really are more colourful than you might think from a rear view.
Let's go with the birds and bees theme and show this shot of a bee nectaring on some blossom on a tree in a courtyard in Pula. Sometimes, just sometimes, I'm rewarded for my patience (and persistence). I like the fact that the pollen sacs are really evident on this one.

No comments: