POLA (Gr. II6Xa or IIoXcu.; Slovene, Pulj), a seaport of Austria, in Istria, 86 m. S. of Trieste by rail. Pop. (1900), 45,052. It is the principal naval harbour and arsenal of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and is situated near the southern extremity of the peninsula of Istria. It lies at the head of the Bay of Pola, and possesses a safe and commodious harbour almost completely landlocked. An extensive system of fortifications, constructed on the hills, which enclose the harbour, defends its entrance, while it also possesses a good roadstead in the large channel of Fasana. This channel separates the mainland from the Brionian Islands, which dominate the entrance to the bay. The harbour has an area of 3-32 sq. m., and is divided into two basins by a chain of three small islands. The inner basin is subdivided by the large Olive Island into the naval harbour, lying to the south, and the commercial harbour, lying to the north. The Olive Island is connected with the coast by a chain-bridge, and is provided with wharfs and dry and floating docks. The town proper lies opposite the Olive Island, round the base of a hill formerly crowned by the Roman capitol and now by a castle from the 17th century. Besides the castle the chief buildings are the cathedral, dating from the 15th century; the new garrison church, completed in 1898 in the Basilica style, with a fine marble facade; the Franciscan convent dating from the 13th century, and now used as a military magazine; the huge infantry barracks; and the town-hall, dating from the beginning of the 14th century. To the south-west, along the coast, extends the marine arsenal, a vast and well-planned establishment possessing all the requisites for the equipment of a large fleet. It contains an interesting naval museum, and is supplemented by the docks and wharves of the Scoglio Olivi. The artillery laboratory and the powder magazine are on the north bank of the harbour. Behind the arsenal lies the suburb of San Policarpo, almost exclusively occupied by the naval population and containing large naval barracks and hospitals. In the middle of it is a pleasant park, with a handsome monument to the emperor Maximilian of Mexico, who had been a rear-admiral in the Austrian navy. To the north, between San Policarpo and the town proper, rises the Monte Zaro, surmounted by an observatory and a statue of Admiral Tegetthoff. Pola has no manufactures outside of its naval stores, but its shipping trade is now considerable, the exports consisting of fish, timber and quartz sand used in making Venetian glass, and the imports of manufactured and colonial wares. To many people, however, the chief interest of Pola centres in its fine Roman remains. The most extensive of these is the amphitheatre built in A.D. 198-211, in honour of the emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla, which is 79 ft. high, 400 ft. long and 320 ft. wide, and could accommodate 20,000 spectators. It is remarkable as the only Roman amphitheatre of which the outer walls have been preserved intact; the interior, however, is now completely bare though the arrangements for the naumachiae, or naval contests, can still be traced. The oldest Roman relic is the fine triumphal arch of the Sergii, in the Corinthian style, erected soon after the battle of Actium; and of not much later date is the elegant and wellpreserved temple of Augustus and Roma erected in the year 19 B.C. Among the other antiquities are three of the old town gates and a fragment of a temple of Diana.
The foundation of Pola is usually carried back to the mythic period, and ascribed to the Colchian pursuers of Jason and the Argonauts. In all probability it was a Thracian colony, but its verifiable history begins with its capture by the Romans in 178 B.C. It was destroyed by Augustus on account of its espousal of the cause of Pompey, but was rebuilt on the intercession of his daughter Julia, and received (according to Pliny) the name of Pietas Julia. It became a Roman colony either under the triumviri or under Octavian, and was mainly important as a harbour. It seems to have attained its greatest prosperity about the time of the emperor Septimius Severus (193-211 A.O.), when it was an important war harbour and contained 35,000 to 50,000 inhabitants. At a later period Pola became the capital of the margraves of Istria, and was captured by the Venetians in 1148. It was several times captured and plundered by the Genoese, and recaptured by the Venetians. In 1379 the Genoese, after defeating the Venetians in a great naval battle off the coast, took and destroyed Pola, which disappears from history for the next four hundred and fifty years. It remained under Venetian supremacy down to 1797, and has been permanently united with Austria since 1815. In 1848 a new era began for Pola in its being selected as the principal naval harbour of Austria.
See Th. Moramsen in Corp. inscr. latin, v. 3 sqq. (Berlin, 1883); T. G. Jackson, Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria, vol. iii. (Oxford, 1887).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)