: Eth. Πολάτης
), one of the principal towns of Istria, situated near the S. extremity of that peninsula, on a landlocked bay, forming an excellent port, which was called the Sinus Polaticus. (Mel. 2.3.13.)
According to a tradition mentioned by several ancient authors, its foundation was ascribed to a band of Colchians, who had come hither in pursuit of Medea, and afterwards settled in the country. (Strab. i. p.46
, v. p. 216; Plin. Nat. 3.19. s. 23
; Mel. l.c.;
Tzetz. ad Lycophr.
It is impossible to explain the origin of this tale, which is already mentioned by Callimachus (ap. Strab. l.c.
); but it may be received as proving that the city was considered as an ancient one, and certainly existed before the Roman conquest of Istria in B.C. 177, though its name is not mentioned on that occasion.
It was undoubtedly the advantages of its excellent port that attracted the attention of the Romans, and led Augustus to establish a colony there, to which he gave the name of Pietas Julia. (Mel. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 3.19. s. 23
.) Several of the still existing remains prove that he at the same time adorned it with public edifices; and there is no doubt that under the Roman Empire it became a considerable and flourishing town,. and, next to Tergeste (Trieste
), the most important city of Istria. (Strab. l.c.; Ptol. 3.1.27
; Gruter, Inscr.
p. 263. 7, p. 360. 1, p. 432. 8.)
It is mentioned in history as the place where Crispus, the eldest son of Constantine the Great, was put to death by order of his father; and again, in A.D. 354, the Caesar Gallus underwent the same fate there by order of Constantius. (Ammian. Marc. 14.11.)
After the fall of the Roman Empire in the West it continued to be a place of importance, and in A.D. 544 it was there that Belisarius assembled the fleet and army with which he was preparing to cross over to Ravenna. (Procop. B. G.
It probably partook of the prosperity which was enjoyed by all Istria during the period that Ravenna became the seat of empire, and which was continued throughout the period of the Exarchate; we learn from the Itineraries that it was connected by a road along the coast with Tergeste, from which it was 77 miles distant, while the direct communication by sea with Iadera (Zara
) seems to have been in frequent use, though the passage was 450 stadia, or 56 Roman miles. (Itin. Ant.
Pola is remarkable for the importance and preservation of its ancient remains. Of these by far the most important is the amphitheatre, one of the most interesting structures of the kind still extant, and remarkable especially for the circumstance that the external circumference, usually the part which has suffered the most. is in this case almost entirely perfect.
It is built on the slope of a hill, so that on the E. side it has only one row of arcades, while on the opposite side, facing the bay, it has a double tier, with an additional story above.
It is 436 English feet in length by 346 in breadth, so that it exceeds in size the amphitheatre of Nismes,
though considerably smaller than that at Verona.
But its position and the preservation of its more architectural portions render it far more striking in aspect than either of them. Considerable remains of a theatre were also preserved down to the 17th century, but were destroyed in 1636, in order to make use of the materials in the construction of the citadel.
There still remain two temples; one of which was dedicated to Rome and Augustus, and though of small size, is of very elegant design and execution, corresponding to the Augustan age, at which period it was undoubtedly elected.
It has thence become a favourite model for study with Italian architects from the time of Palladio downwards.
The other, which was consecrated to Diana, is in less complete preservation, and has been converted into a modern habitation. Besides these, the Porta Aurea, a kind of triumphal arch, but erected by a private individual of the name of Sergius, now forms the S. gate of the city. Another gate, and several portions of the ancient walls are also preserved.
The whole of these monuments are built of the hard white limestone of the country, closely approaching to marble, which adds [p. 2.644]
much to their effect. Dante speaks of the environs of Pola, as in his time remarkable for the numerous sarcophagi and ancient tombs with which they were almost wholly occupied.
These have now disappeared. (Dante, Inf.
The antiquities of Pola have been repeatedly described, and illustrated with figures; among others, in the fourth volume of Stuart and Revett's Athens,
fol. Lond. 1816, and in the Voyage Pittoresque de l'Istrie et de la Dalmatie,
fol. Paris, 1802; also in Allason's Antiquities of Pola,
fol., Lond. 1819.
The harbour of Pola is completely landlocked, so as to have the appearance of a small basin-shaped lake, communicating by a narrow channel with the sea. Off its entrance lies a group of small islands called the Isole Brioni,
which are probably those called by Pliny Cissa and Pullaria. (Plin. Nat. 3.26. s. 30
The southernmost promontory of Istria, about 10 miles distant from Pola, derived from it the name of Polaticum Promontorium.
It is now called Capo Promontore.