I love maritime museums. A year ago I was in Pula and had some time on my own so I decided to visit their maritime museum. Pula was the most important military naval base of Austro-Hungary and that is my favorite part of naval history: late 19th century and WWI. Since 1961, founded as the Museum of the Revolution on December 31, 1955, Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria is housed in the restored Venetian fortification on the highest peak in Pula.
Museum is “guarded” by an impressive collection of canons.
Now this is official list of their exhibits:
The Museum has several departments – Department of the history of Pula, Department of medieval Istrian history and the Department of modern Istrian history with adjoining collections (Cultural-historic collection of urban life, Collection of old postcards and photographs, Collection of maritime history and shipbuilding, Collection of economic development, Cultural-historical collection of suburban life, Collection of insignia, diplomas, seals and coats-of-arms, Coin collection, Collection of arms, uniforms and military equipment, Collection of film and video recordings, Collection of memoirs and phonographic recordings, Collection of significant persons and the recently established Collection of old maps. In the rich museum holdings (over 40,000 artifacts), particularly important is the collection of old postcards, maps and the collection of arms, uniforms, military and maritime equipment.
But, the museum collection is not attractively presented and the interiors are quite dated.
The most impressive is – on permanent display – naval military pharmacy: K. u. K. Marinespital Apotheke. It was established in 1861. in a local hospital but only in 1990. it was transferred to the museum building and in 2005. it was opened to public. The pharmacy and all the artifacts on display are quite impressive!
My favorite part is, as mentioned, the part that deals with maritime history.
The collection consists of numerous objects on display dating from the oldest time of Istria’s maritime history. The home port of the Austro-Hungarian Navy was the Seearsenal (naval base) at Pula where it was moved from Venice. Supplementary bases included Trieste and Kotor in Montenegro. Both Trieste and Pula had major shipbuilding facilities. One of the largest dry docks in the Mediterranean of that time was located in Pula as well. The city of Pula was also the site of the central church of the navy “Stella Maris” (k.u.k. Marinekirche “Stella Maris”), of the Austro-Hungarian Naval Observatory and the empire’s naval cemetery or k.u.k. Marinefriedhof).
Austrian rule in Croatia was not ideal but after them the Italians came also imposing their customs, language… The interventions to the museum building – which was still a fortress back then – were done by the fascist Italy.
A walk around the walls is quite nice!
Overall, the museum is well worth visiting if you are interested in history and like a casual walk in a historic setting. Heart of Pula is quite charming although I don’t hear many people saying so and everyone only talks about the arena or the temple.
Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria has a website with more information but the web site is in Croatian and Italian only.
Winter (1. October– 31. March): 09:00 – 17:00
Summer (1. April– 30. September): 08:00 – 21:00
Entrance ticket is 10 kn (1,5 E) for adults and half that for children.