Naval Observatory Pula

Pula Naval Observatory: A Unique Fusion of History and the Stars

Top Highlights

  • Oldest Observatory in Croatia: Established in 1869.
  • Stunning Location: Perched atop Monte Zaro Park.
  • Discoveries of the Stars: 28 planetoids discovered with key names like “Polana”, “Adria”, and “Istria”.
  • World-Class Facilities: It houses an archive, instrument repository, and navy library.
  • Historical Significance: Once a pivotal point for Austria’s war navy.
  • History buffs wanting a deep dive into Pula’s naval past.
  • Astronomy enthusiasts curious about early celestial discoveries.
  • Travelers seeking panoramic city views.
  • Those interested in architectural marvels of the 19th century.

About the Naval Observatory

The Pula Observatory, known in history as the Navy Observatory, stands as a beacon of Croatia’s rich past. Tracing its origins back to 1869, it was set up as part of the Imperial and Royal Hydrographic Institute of the Navy. The years that followed saw the establishment of a comprehensive building on Monte Zaro hill. This structure wasn’t just an observatory; it was a haven for nautical and physical instruments, mapping archives, and an extensive navy library.

Historical Information

The Pula Naval Observatory, a silent sentinel atop Monte Zaro Park in the city of Pula, is steeped in the annals of Croatia’s maritime and astronomic history.

Beginnings in the 19th Century:
In 1869, Pula began its illustrious journey into the world of celestial exploration. The observatory was born out of the necessity to support the naval might of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Pula-Pola, which had emerged as the primary war port for Austria, recognized the need for a centralized institute that could provide accurate nautical charts, weather updates, and timekeeping for the fleet. This led to the establishment of the observatory as part of the Imperial and Royal Hydrographic Institute of the Navy.

Role during the Maritime Golden Age:
By 1871, the observatory had expanded its premises, establishing a full-fledged facility on Monte Zaro hill. Beyond its astronomic capabilities, this complex became a crucial repository for nautical and physical instruments. Its archives held the most detailed nautical maps, and the navy library became an invaluable resource for sailors and academics alike.

During this period, the observatory also provided pivotal services such as the Current Time Service, Chronometer Service, Meteorological Service, and Geomagnetic Service. These services ensured the accuracy and efficiency of the navy’s operations, making the observatory an indispensable asset.

Legacy of Celestial Discoveries:
Under the dedicated guidance of visionaries like Austrian astronomer Johann Palisa in the late 1870s, the observatory entered a golden age of astronomic advancements. With enhancements in lens grinding technology, optical glasses, and astronomic instruments, the observatory made significant strides. The result was the discovery of 28 new planetoids, embedding the observatory’s name in astronomic legacy. Some of these celestial bodies, such as “Polana”, “Adria”, and “Istria”, paid homage to the region’s heritage.

Wartime Challenges:
The geopolitical landscape of Europe in the 19th century was tumultuous. As a result of wartime situations, especially around 1848, many observatories faced closure. Pula, however, benefited as a significant chunk of inventory and instruments from observatories in Venice and Trieste were transferred to it, further enhancing its capabilities.

Modern Day:
Today, the Pula Naval Observatory stands as a testament to Croatia’s rich maritime and astronomic history. After enduring the sands of time, it has transformed from a mere naval support system to a symbol of national pride and scientific achievement. The restored facility continues to educate visitors about its splendid past while pointing its telescopes to the stars, symbolizing a nation’s continuous quest for knowledge.

In essence, a visit to the Pula Naval Observatory isn’t just an astronomic experience but a voyage through time, capturing the essence of maritime history, national pride, and mankind’s eternal connection with the cosmos.

When to Visit

The best time to explore the Pula Naval Observatory is during the spring months of April and May. The weather is pleasantly warm, and the sky is clear, offering the best celestial views.


Tuesday: 01.04. – 31.08.2023
Friday: 19:30 – 21:00

What is There to See

Visitors can marvel at the advanced telescopes, get lost in the historical archives, or soak in the panoramic views of Pula Bay. The observatory is also a testament to the golden age of astronomic advancements in the late 19th century, spearheaded by Austrian astronomer Johann Palisa.

How Long Does a Visit Take

Expect to spend 2-3 hours for a comprehensive visit, giving you enough time to explore the observatory, its archives, and to relax and take in the scenic views.

Local Tips & Tricks

  • Start your visit early to avoid the afternoon rush.
  • Consider hiring a local guide who can share intriguing anecdotes about the place.
  • Wear comfortable shoes; the observatory is atop a hill!

Contact Info

How to Get Here

  • Royal Naval Observatory is situated in Montezaro Park Pula, atop the hill near the Montezaro hill. 

Where to park

  • For parking, we recommend searching for street parking spaces around the park, specifically on Boškovićev uspon 2 or Ul. cara Emina.


How old is the Pula Observatory?
The Pula Observatory dates back to 1869, making it over 150 years old.
Is it accessible to physically challenged visitors?
Yes, the observatory is equipped with facilities to aid physically challenged visitors.
Are there guided tours available?
Yes, local guides are available, offering tours in multiple languages.
Can I bring my own telescope for stargazing?
While the observatory provides state-of-the-art telescopes for viewing, visitors are welcome to bring their own telescopes.
What is the significance of the names “Polana”, “Adria”, and “Istria”?
These are names of planetoids discovered from the observatory, carrying significance to the region.
Is photography allowed inside the observatory?
Yes, but flash photography may be restricted in certain areas to protect the sensitive instruments.
Are there any nearby attractions?
Monte Zaro Park surrounds the observatory, offering beautiful trails and spots for relaxation.

Embarking on a journey to the Pula Naval Observatory promises not just a look at the stars but also a dive into the rich tapestry of Croatian history. This unique blend of science, history, and nature makes it a must-visit spot in Pula. Safe travels and clear skies!