The small town of Pula has a beautiful Roman temple dedicated to Augustus (Augustov hram in Croatian). Along with the city’s amphitheater, this is the second monument not to be missed when you visit Pula. The temple of Augustus is located next to the sea, at the corner of a large square, the forum.
The temple is located in the same area as the main marina, the Golden Gate, the fortress with the naval museum, the small theater and the amphitheater. Most visitors can visit everything in half a day’s walk.
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The temple of Augustus’ construction and characteristics
The temple of Augustus was built between 2 BC and 14 AD and is dedicated to the emperor of the same name and to the goddess Rome. The temple’s construction started during the emperor’s lifetime and ended the year of his death. It is a very classical temple of that time.
Specialists call it a Corinthian prostyle tetrastyle temple. This means that it has a porch with 4 marble columns in a single row. The columns are lavishly decorated, especially on the upper part and on the capital.
The building features a cella (a sanctuary), a propylaeum (columned facade) and an enclosed space. It was built from stone blocks of the same size. The temple is 17 m long and 8 m wide. It has a very nice frieze, some sculptures and writings engraved in the stone. There was an inscription above the columns, which has now disappeared, recalling in bronze letters the filiation to Julius Caesar and Rome, the mother country.
The construction of the temple began before the death of the emperor Augustus, so the temple is dedicated to the “mortal” Augustus and not to the “divine” Augustus. This subtlety allowed archaeologists to date the construction of the building.
The temple after the Roman period
Over the centuries, the temple was used for different purposes, from a church at the time of the Byzantine occupation to a grain storage. The temple was mentioned in the 16th century in a book of classical architecture: The Four Books of Architecture by Andrea Palladio.
A first museum was built at the end of the 19th century. It is still present in the matter of the Lapidary Museum. The temple was almost destroyed during the Second World War. What we see today is a reconstruction, the work of Italian archaeologists, which lasted two years following the war.
This temple, along with the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, is one of the best preserved of its kind outside of Italy.
The temple of Augustus is the last of the three temples of the square. There were two others: one dedicated to the capitoline triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva) in the center and another one dedicated to the goddess Diana.
Visiting the temple of Augustus
There is an entrance fee (about 10 kn for adults) and the temple can be visited every day between spring and autumn. Visitors can admire Roman scale models, mosaics and sculptures. The main interest lies outside the temple: the monumental facade is worth a visit.
The temple is located in the center of Pula and is easily accessible. The sight is really spectacular when the sun sets and the light shines down on the place. The best way to avoid the crowds is to visit the temple in the morning. The place becomes noisy and crowded by the end of the afternoon. Please note that it closes in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.