Croatia

Published on November 7th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard

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Colosseum of awe

Think of an awe-inspiring colosseum and Rome comes instantly to mind.

But the colosseum at Pula in Croatia is much more preserved and intact.

Built in the first century, it is the only Roman amphitheatre to retain a complete circuit of its walls.

“How much more pleasant to watch Elton at the piano in a ginger wig and glittering jumpsuit than lions eating Christians”

Unlike Rome’s colosseum where, in the Middle Ages, locals used it as a quarry and removed chunks for building projects, this one remained mostly untouched (although locals did take some of the stone seats.)

The amphitheatre in Arles in the South of France was also built by the Romans during the first century, and its restored grandness is now an imposing venue for summer concerts and film festivals. Pula - 29-7-04 004

Visiting an amphitheatre gives you goose bumps. Certainly, the building of something so impossibly grand so long ago defies the mind.

But it’s not just the scale that leaves you awe-struck; it is the thought of what went on inside amphitheatres in their heyday.

A Saturday afternoon watching gladiators fighting to the death and wild animals tear each other apart was akin to us enjoying a weekend movie. Romans loved blood and death, and the masses couldn’t get enough of it.

Go beneath these amphitheatres now and see where the doomed animals and condemned prisoners were kept and you’ll shiver.

Bears, donkeys, buffalos and even elephants were sent out to fight each other to the death. Stage hands set up trapdoors to enable these poor animals to appear in the arena as if from nowhere – special effects of the time.

Now, thankfully, these remarkable amphitheatres, displayed and lit up at night in all their ancient and magnificent splendour, provide a glorious backdrop for entertainment of a more refined kind.

In Pula’s colosseum, Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and even Elton John have entertained crowds. How much more pleasant to watch Elton at the piano in a ginger wig and glittering jumpsuit than lions eating Christians.

If only the Romans could have looked into the far-distant future and seen such a spectacle, they would have surely banned all mortal combat.

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About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.



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