Marine library Pula

Top Highlights

  • Explore a library dating back to the early 19th century
  • Dive into a unique collection of maritime science and history
  • Marvel at works in multiple languages including German, French, and Latin
  • Discover an often-overlooked piece of Pula’s rich cultural tapestry
  • Gain valuable insights into Croatia’s maritime legacy

The Journey of the Marine library: A Library With a Sea of Knowledge


In the heart of Europe’s maritime heritage, the Pula Library, originally known as the Marine-Bibliothek, stands as a beacon of knowledge. Founded in Venice in 1802 and later relocating through Trieste to its final home in Pula, the library embodies a rich tapestry of maritime science and history. With over 6,757 titles spanning languages and centuries, its collection is a repository of natural sciences, engineering, and in-depth maritime studies…

Historical Journey

Founded in Venice in 1802, the Marine Library, originally known as the Marine-Bibliothek, was the brainchild of Austrian Archduke Karl. With a collection that traversed various relocations—from Venice to Trieste and finally to Pula—it offers a fascinating glimpse into maritime history.

  • The Foundation: Venice, 1802

The Marine library, initially known as the Marine-Bibliothek, was founded in Venice in 1802 under the auspices of the Austrian Naval Command. The library was established by Austrian Archduke Karl, who generously donated 20 seminal scientific works as the founding collection.

  • Initial Funding and Purpose: Early 1800s

Originally, officers of the Austrian Navy contributed part of their salaries to support the library’s mission. Eventually, the library became state-funded by the Habsburg Monarchy. It was conceived as a scientific and professional library, serving as a central repository of maritime books and periodicals.

  • Loss and Recovery: 1805-1814

During the war against France in 1805, Austria lost Venice, along with the library which had around 700 volumes at the time. However, the library’s collection was partly recovered in 1814 when Venice returned to Austrian possession.

  • Relocation and Transformation: 1848-1851

Due to the war for the unification of Italy in 1848, the library was moved to Trieste. By 1851, it was transformed into the Naval Academy. The entire collection was likely moved from Venice to Trieste around 1850.

  • Centralization and Expansion: 1854-1860

In the mid-19th century, the library became the central hub for the Austrian Navy, collecting works from the maritime sciences, applied sciences in maritime studies, and general educational material. Part of its collection was incorporated into the newly founded Naval Observatory in Trieste in 1854, and later into the Hydrographic Institution in 1860.

  • The Pula Era: 1865-1918

During the 1860s, Pula was developed as the main naval port for the Austrian Navy, leading to the relocation of the library between 1865-1866. The library underwent various organizational changes, including being integrated into new institutions like the Hydrographic Office in 1869, and the Naval Technical Committee in 1892.

  • The Twilight Years: 1918 and Beyond

At the end of 1918, after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the library ceased its operations. Italian forces, who occupied Pula, took possession of the library. Eventually, the collection was moved several times, finding its final resting place in the War Archive in Vienna by around 1950.

  • The Modern Collection: Late 20th Century to Today

In 1975, Austria donated a major portion of the preserved collection to Pula’s University Library. The collection, now registered as a cultural monument by the Republic of Croatia in 1992, contains over 6,757 titles in multiple languages, with works ranging from the 16th to the 20th century.

  • An Overview of the Collection

The library’s collection is particularly strong in natural sciences, engineering, and maritime studies, including hydrography and oceanography. Languages represented include German (60%), French and English (approximately 15% each), Italian (7%), and Latin along with other languages (3%). It serves not just as a repository of maritime scientific knowledge, but also as a valuable source for the study of Croatian history.

  • Conclusion: The Lasting Legacy

The importance of the Marine library lies not just in its rare books, but also in its comprehensive coverage of maritime science, sourced from around the globe and across languages. It remains a significant cultural and scientific asset, illuminating not only the history of maritime studies but also that of the regions it has traversed.

What is There to See at the Marine Library

Prepare to be astonished by the diverse collection of over 6,700 titles that range from maritime science and engineering to oceanography. The library is a treasure trove of knowledge, with works spanning from the 16th to the 20th century.

How Long Does a Visit Take

Depending on your thirst for knowledge, a visit could take anywhere from an hour to half a day. You’ll find yourself lost among ancient tomes, fascinating maps, and intriguing periodicals.

Local Tips & Tricks

Make sure to ask the staff about the ‘special collections’. There are manuscripts and documents that are not on the general display but are accessible upon request.

When to Visit the Marine Library

Weekday mornings are usually the quietest times to visit. If you’re looking for solitude to explore the library, aim for mid-week visits.

When are the Opening Hours?

From Monday to Friday: 08:00 – 00:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 13:00
Sunday: Closed

Contact Info


How to Get There

  • Situated near the center of Pula, in close proximity to the Church of St. Maria Formosa Pula.

Where to park

  • For convenient parking options, we recommend consulting the where-to-park section, which provides comprehensive details on available parking spots around the area.


Is the Marine Library wheelchair accessible?
Yes, the library is fully accessible for those with mobility challenges.

Are guided tours available?
Yes, but you need to book in advance. Some tours even include a special curator-led behind-the-scenes look.

Is photography allowed?
Photography for personal use is allowed, but tripods and flash are not permitted.

Can I purchase copies of the library’s publications?
Yes, there is a gift shop where you can buy copies of selected works and souvenirs.

Is there a reading room?
Yes, there’s a dedicated reading room for those who wish to dive deeper into the collection.

Do they offer any interactive experiences?
There are occasional exhibitions and interactive installations, usually detailed on their website.

What languages do the staff speak?
Most staff members are multilingual and can assist in English, Croatian, and Italian.