From the second half of the 19th century to the First World War, the city of Pula was the main naval base of the Austrian Navy on the Istrian Peninsula. Construction on the historic forts that are renowned today across the city of Pula started in 1852.
Out of the three main defensive fortified rings, the first protected the entrance to the naval port, the second encircled the wider city area, and the third expanded outside of the city of Pula. The fortifications in Pula represent highly significant cultural heritage thanks to the numerous preserved structures from the Austro-Hungarian period, such as auxiliary military institutions, infrastructure, communal systems and buildings with a wide range of social and cultural amenities.
For more than 20 years, Fort Verudela has been the main building of Aquarium Pula. Today, instead of housing Austro-Hungarian soldiers, there are over 250 animal species from the Adriatic and Mediterranean.
History of the fort of Verudela
The coastal Fort Verudela is considered part of over a hundred defensive elements of Austro-Hungarian fortifications in Pula. It is located at 31 metres above sea level and was built and equipped in the period from 1881 to 1886, along with the nearby Battery San Giovanni, with which it forms a unique defensive complex.
The fort is pentagonal and of an almost symmetrical layout. It consists of an earth-stone central block with a two-storey gorge barracks nestled inside it, a moat and an outer earth-stone bank. Fort Verudela was built using finely processed stone blocks, brick (vaulting), concrete and reinforced concrete. According to data from 1903, it was staffed by a commander, four officers and around 120 soldiers.
History of the Battery of San Giovanni
The Battery of San Giovanni was built concurrently with the accompanying Fort Verudela at 21 metres above sea level. It was built as a structure resistant to grenades and was staffed by four officers and 194 soldiers.
After being converted to a restaurant in 1963 and after the construction of numerous paved paths and walkways for the local tourist apartment resort, a small connected battery next to the defensive complex was destroyed along with the second fort reflector, which essentially ruined the original battery.
Today, the Battery of San Giovanni is owned by Arena Hospitality Group d.d. A section of the battery’s grounds has been used by Aquarium Pula since 2014 to conduct the educational, oceanological programme “Blue School”. The set-up of a new exotic exhibit began in 2022, including a quarantine and breeding area as part of further expansions of Aquarium Pula.
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