The Verige Roman Villa is a villa rustica located in the bay of Verige off the coast of Istria, within Croatia’s Brijuni National Park. The Brijuni archipelago includes 14 small islands which are famous for their scenic beauty. In Roman times, numerous Roman villae rusticae adorned the coast of these islands referred to by Pliny the Elder as Insulae Pullariae. The construction of the villa began in the 1st century BC, reaching its heyday in the 1st century AD. Some parts of the villa were used until the 6th century.
The fall of the Illyrian capital of Nesactium in the year 177 BC marked the onset of a long period of Roman rule which brought considerable economic, social and cultural changes to the entire Istrian peninsula, including the Brijuni Islands. The Roman navy found on the Brijuni Islands a safe and natural shelter. The Romans built many luxurious summer residences and palaces where they could relax and live from the products they produced.
The villa was owned by the senatorial Laecanii family and probably came under imperial ownership in the 2nd half of the 1st century AD. It is said to be among the three most luxurious villas in the Roman Empire alongside a Villa in Pompeii and another one on the island of Capri. The villa consisted of several buildings of residential and economic character situated in different parts of the bay. The whole complex covered an area of over six hectares. The villa also had a library, three level terraces and huge gardens.
Along with the luxurious villa, constituent parts of the complex also included three temples (to the sea god Neptune, the Capitoline Triad and the goddess Venus), and apalaestra. All these buildings were connected by a system of collonaded promenades stretching one kilometre along the sea, in harmony with the landscape. On the opposite side of the bay were the other areas dedicated to production activities as well as the thermae.
This villa was lavishly decorated with mosaic floors and frescoes, stucco decoration and precious marble.
Located at the Southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, Pula sits at a location highly appreciated by ancient civilizations. It is a town of extraordinary beauty and culture with a three-thousand-year long history. This important Istrian port boasts a rich and varied cultural heritage that has attracted visitors for centuries.
Pula was originally founded as a fortified settlement of the Histri, the pre-Roman inhabitants of Istria after whom the peninsula is named. In the Illyrian period, until the arrival of the Romans in 177 BC, Pula was no more than the surroundings of nearby Nesactium, the political, administrative, military and religious centre and capital of the Histri. As a result of intensive colonization, trade routes as well as the importance of its military position, Pula took over the leading position. Numerous trades developed in that period: agriculture, viticulture, olive-growing, fishing and pottery for the transport of olive-oil, wine, wheat and fish.
Pula was elevated to colonial rank between 46–45 BC under Julius Caesar as the tenth region of the Roman Empire. During that time the town grew and peaked at about a population of about 30,000. During the civil war that followed Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC, Pula took the side of Cassius, since the town had been founded by Cassius Longinus, brother of Cassius. After Octavian’s victory, the town was demolished. It was soon rebuilt at the request of Augustus’ daughter Iulia and was then named Colonia Pietas Iulia Pola Pollentia Herculanea. Pula was transformed into an imperial city where some of the best examples of Roman architecture were built.
Pula is well known for its many surviving ancient Roman buildings, the most famous of which is its 1st-century amphitheatre, one of the best preserved from antiquity. Two other notable and well-preserved ancient Roman structures are the 1st-century AD Arch of the Sergii and the Temple of Rome and Augustus.