Culture & Art

Cathedral of Pula

Co-cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Pula

The Pula Cathedral is a co-cathedral in Pula together with the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč it is one of the two official seats of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Poreč and Pula on the Istrian peninsula. The church is located on the south side of the Pula bay at the foot of the hill with the 17th century Venetian fort. The site of the present-day church has been used for religious worship since ancient Roman times and the first Christian churches on the site were built in the late 4th and early 5th century AD.

Archaeological excavations have revealed ruins of Roman thermae on the location of the present-day cathedral. In the 4th and 5th centuries a whole complex of ancient Christian buildings was gradually build on the site. A small church whose width corresponds to the present-day cathedral’s central nave was built first, which was followed in the mid 4th century by a single-nave church of St. Thomas next to it. These two were incorporated into an extended hall church in the early 5th century. In the second half of the 5th century it was further transformed into a three-nave basilica which featured architectural elements popular in the northern Adriatic of the time, such as the apse set in the facade and the entirely flat rear side of the church. At around the same time, a baptistery which had a cross-shaped floor plan and a bishop’s residence were built in front of the basilica, but they were both later demolished in the 19th century after the diocese seat was moved to Poreč in 1828. Only a small section of the original mosaic has survived to present times, bearing the inscription ‘DAMIANUS ET LAVRENTIA’, which were the names of the couple which had paid for the mosaic as part of their wedding vows.

In 1860 a grave containing a stone sarcophagus was discovered in the church. The sarcophagus contained a silver box adorned with depictions of St. Hermagoras and St. Fortunatus, bishops of Aquileia. The box contained a smaller golden reliquary which is believed to have held the relics of Thomas the Apostle, the patron saint of Pula and the Pula-Poreč diocese. The relics were probably brought here from Constantinople in the 5th century and are today kept at the’ Kunsthistorisches Museum’ in Vienna.

The baroque style bell tower – that is free standing-  was erected in 1707, next to the 5th century baptistery in front of the basilica. The bell-tower was built using stones taken from the Roman-built Pula Arena.

Trg Svetog Tome 2, 52100 Pula

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